There has been a lot of talk about work-life balance, which is a fair allocation of your attention, time and energy between personal life and career.
In the past few years, the conversation shifted from work-life balance to work-life flexibility: shifting your attention, time, and energy fluidly between personal and professional engagements within each day, week, or month as needed.
I want more for you: work-life harmony.
Harmony is when all the parts of your life “sound” together, and create a pleasing effect for you. You don’t stop being a parent when you’re at work, and you don’t stop being a director when you’re at home, so all aspects of your life are always present, louder or quieter.
Just like we have unique tastes in partners, in food, and in music, we each have a unique sense of what is harmonious to us.
If you’re not a musical person, this metaphor may fall on deaf ears (pun intended 😊), but bear with me.
Balance you may be able to measure in hours spent here or there;
Flexibility seems to be harder to quantify, but you know when you have it – you shift to whatever you need as you need it, as long as you keep all the balls in the air overall.
Harmony is even more elusive – it has to be sensed. The question is: are you attuned to yourself and to your life enough to hear whether there is harmony? When you sense that something is off-key, can you diagnose what it is? If you can diagnose it, can you adjust it? These are tough questions…
Being attuned to harmony takes mindful practice. While this skill is deeper than can be described in a short article, consider experimenting with the following:
- Put yourself in front of beauty (tip from The Art of Charm podcast). See stunning architecture, sit in front of a painting, walk through the woods, gardens, mountains, watch the waves hit the shore, listen to music without multitasking. Notice what the experience does to you, how it affects you, how it lands on you.
- Practice indwelling. This means being fully present with someone or something, experiencing them, experiencing-yourself-as-you-are-with-them, with all of your senses. Through indwelling you can hear the music that happens between the notes, hear the poetry emerging between the words, and sense what happens between events.
- Notice what moves you deeply, and see whether it results in harmony or dissonance. Your sensory capacities serve you on par with your intellect, just listen.
If you are looking for harmony in a relationship, everyone involved needs to tune up to each other, and have some common understanding of what is harmonious, even if this harmony between you does not make sense to others (see the power of private conversations).
Let’s say it’s just you and your friend, getting together for a jam session to play two guitars. Even when you don’t have a tuner, and your guitars are not tuned to absolute pitch, you must tune your guitars to each other to play in harmony.
An orchestra tunes up before each performance to oboe’s A=440 Hertz, and musicians rely on their trained ear to make it happen. Intellectual knowing about frequencies is not enough; musicians have to feel, sense, and hear the vibrations.
In a corporate team, all members of the team need to use their senses to perceive “the team pitch for harmony” and attune to it, which is not the same as intellectually getting on the same page. How to do it is a million-dollar question, best explored with a seasoned executive coach. In organizations, learning to stay attuned means developing emotional intelligence, a sense of corporate aesthetics and whatever is the equivalent of musicality in your profession.
Sensing harmony in your own life comes down to using your whole body as an instrument, as harmony cannot be intellectualized. The better you learn to calibrate your whole self as a compass, to read it, and to follow it (see Mary Oliver’s Wild Geese), the more natural it will feel to “fall into harmony”.
I wish you harmony in all aspects of your life, whatever it means to you, wherever you stand.
While much of my work time is now dedicated to completing the PhD dissertation, I still love making time for coaching and consulting. If you would like to connect about working together, let’s do it. It may seem like ‘just talking’, but you already know it is more…
Did a friend share this with you? Please sign up for my newsletter and get your own free monthly-ish copy.
NEWS and UPDATES
I’m deep in data for my dissertation, coding and analyzing interviews with healthcare providers, engineers, architects, IT specialists, actuaries, software engineers, financial analysts about the first wave of COVID and more generally, moving through uncertainty. THANK YOU to each of you who agreed to be interviewed. I’m humbled by your expertise, experience, and willingness to help.
My advisor and I wrote a chapter on Intuition for the SAGE Encyclopedia of Theory in STEM, and it has just been accepted for publication (forthcoming in 2022). It is an easy read (although long-ish), and a fair summary of what is known in academia about Intuition. Please, let me know if you’d like to read it or learn more ( Alina@AlinaBas.com ).