How many times have you heard a cliché related to the separation of home and work? It may have come in response to a bitter co-worker whose negativity oozes from them like lava from a truly angry volcano.
Maybe you or another co-worker made the mistake of asking what’s wrong and from their response you get to learn of a bad home-life situation or the really ugly freeway-driver that cut them off on the way to work that morning.
Let me guess. Someone eventually answered the malady of Mr. or Mrs. Irked with the always appropriate you need to leave home at home and focus on work at work.
Regardless of how it is put, the concept of separating work-life and home-life, or freeway driving-life for that matter, is understood by all of us and we get the professional expectation: Keep them separate.
If you are like me in one particular way, then that quasi self-management rule may not sit well with you. There is a core feeling or sense inside some of us that says: Wait a minute, stop being me and become someone different?
Mentally leaving work at work doesn’t seem to work well for some of us. For example, I love what I do, and I really like sharing my daily triumphs and challenges with my wife. She not only helps me with her removed perspective, but she in turn gives me her low-down-dirty work stuff as well and then seeks my opinion.
I strangely find that her quests at the office resemble mine and it often seems that we’re both working the same human based algebra problems. They just have slightly different details.
Together, she and I have conquered many the battles that we each were pitted to fight alone. My curiosity is why do we fight this natural partnership which lies waiting for many of us at home? Secondly, what about the other way around?
We’ve all heard the personal stories from our co-workers, and given the severity of the gory details we are either there listening as a consultant, or looking for the next beep from our cell phone to provide the excuse to get away from the conversation.
I have, with caution and curiosity, made it my purpose to blur, dilute and to completely eradicate the line in the sand between life at home and work. I had to start to obliterate the thoughts from my head, whenever they start to creep in. Don’t bring your work-life home. Work isn’t the place to bring your home-life problems.
As a result of my little internal mind experiment I’ve learned a few very valuable concepts:
- I am fairly successful at home and at work, and it’s for the same reasons. The solutions I try seem to work for both areas – the type of problem being the same. My attitude plays a tremendous role in this success-failure paradigm, so I remind myself to keep my ego in check and my empathy in the full-throttle position.
- The honesty that I commit to in the face of any opportunity is the same, whether at home or at work. It may not always be pure, but should be consistent. As relationships are based upon trust then I must demonstrate my acceptance for my own failures, willingness to fail and in the moment; true-belief that I may be wrong so I must remain open minded.
- I care about those in my life, obviously not the same way or in the level of intensity when comparing those at work or home, but I value the relationships before the location. I can give something to the co-worker I am working with if I give something from my other life – my home life. In turn, I strengthen my relationships at home when I show enthusiasm in giving detail of my work experience to a home based problem. It shows that I am open to give all of my experience towards working towards a solution.
I like myself at home and at work. This seems to be an obvious key here. How I feel about who I am – which is again, really good, allows me to focus on the other people in my life and not my place among them. If I were to suddenly stop and only move forward on my self-directed path depending on who I was dealing with say a homie or a workie then I’d fall out of balance.
In fact, if the inner-workings of my mind were displayed on a movie screen and the choice of how to proceed showed the images of stopping and figuring out where I was and then only proceeding if my path matched my location, I’d leave that theater right in the middle of the movie. My wife will tell you I’d never do that.
Focusing on others, regardless of our shared location, is where success lies. While I have learned some great lessons about some very deep subjects by using the things I’ve learned at home and work without the line of demarcation between the two, one very golden pillar of truth remains from my education in this subject.
Who we are as individuals is a product of our experiences and our attitude. If we employ both in the most positive way towards either achieving success or in dealing with challenges, we will have the best chance for success if we disregard where we are at and remember that family, friends, co-workers, bosses and employees are human beings. They all deserve the best we have to offer regardless where we are at any time.