The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People had such a great impact on me and the Franklin-Covey training I received years ago shaped me as a leader and a person. In honor of Covey, the next few blogs will show how his 7 Habits can be used as a cornerstone for positive work-life balance. This week deals with the first 3 Habits or the Habits that deal with going from Dependence to Independence.
Habit 1: Be Proactive
Aint this the truth. Work-life policies and opportunities often do not fall into place. We have to work at them. Proactivity in this area means educating, advocating, and negotiating your way to a better work-life situation. Proactivity carries the mindset of “I impact the world” vs “the world impact me.” Being proactive means looking for alternatives and positive outcomes and by doing so we grow our circle of influence. Remember, most family-friendly and positive work-life policies come from employees taking the initiative to ask and create these opportunities. They also come from managers who go to bat for their staff because they want to keep them on as happy and effective members of their team. In either case, the improved situation did not magically appear; someone made it happen.
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind. Simply put, what’s your end game? What is it you want to achieve on your work-life balance journey? Are you interested in a compressed workweek as a short term or long term goal? Is telecommuting something you want to do for a year or two so you can spend time with your young children or do you want it to be the standard norm? When you know what you want, you will be in a better position to clearly communicate that supervisors, policymakers, and coworkers. This will lead to less conflict or at the very least, misunderstandings about expectations.
Habit 3: Put first things first. Amen! Not all jobs are created equal in terms of work-life balance so you have to sit down and prioritize what is most important to you. Are you a work-centered person? A family-centered person? Are you trying to be balanced between the two domains? Add to the mix your hobbies, side jobs, ambitions, etc and things can get sticky in a hurry unless you rank and prioritize what is most important to you. Doing this not only gives you a better sense of who you are (and who you want to be) but allows you to put forth a constant effort towards achieving those goals. This habit also focuses on committing your time to activities that progress you goals. Spending your time on tasks that are not urgent and not important becomes an illogical choice, especially when compared to working on tasks that are not urgent but extremely important (this is where the good long term planning is done).
What is awesome about the first three Habits is their ability to help us define what we want and lay a foundation to go out and get those things. Mastery of these steps takes us from dependence on a system, a boss, or life circumstances and moves us towards independence. Independence gives us much more control over our lives and our situations and in the case of this blog, work-life balance. As a leader moving from dependence towards independence means you are someone who makes things happen and does not use company policy or culture as the framework for all decisions. Authentic leadership makes you a rockstar! As great as independence is the next three steps move us even further along towards interdependence. We” touch on that next week.
Paul Artale is a motivational speaker who specializes in Labor and Industrial Relations. He is also a keynote speaker and facilitator. Please visit http://www.paulartale.com for more information.