By Flip Brown
Let me guess: you didn’t start or get into a socially responsible business to play it safe, take the easy route, or have a guaranteed return on your time and financial investment. No, my hunch is that your passion to help create a better world for us all has driven you to create a compelling vision, take audacious risks to implement it, and dedicate incredible amounts of energy toward your goals.
This all sounds good in theory, but many of us fry ourselves to a crisp trying to make it all happen. We end up on a hamster wheel of being too busy to stop and figure out why we constantly feel too busy.
For those of us on the leading edge, being mission-driven is truly a double-edged sword. We want the ability to slice through challenges, chop large obstacles into digestible chunks, and cut away the unnecessary hassles. Yet at the same time, we often continue working long after we’re dull, don’t recognize the self-inflicted nicks and cuts we’ve made, and don’t take reasonable breaks to keep ourselves and our tools sharp.
How does one maintain a sense of meaning, fulfillment, and balance while doing the full- tilt business boogie? Here are some of my favorite tips, tools, and techniques:
1 - REMEMBER THAT WHAT YOU DO IS NOT WHO YOU ARE
Your business role is a part of your identity, not the whole enchilada. Cultivate a rich life outside of work so you can be a vibrant human while you are at work.
2 - HAVE A GOOD TALK WITH YOURSELF ABOUT HOW YOU TALK TO YOUR "SELF"
You can’t possibly get it all done (right?), so give yourself permission to do the best you can do, and don’t beat yourself up for not achieving self-imposed perfection. Practice radical self-acceptance while you continuously develop your potential.
3 - EXPECT THAT VIRTUALLY EVERY DAY WILL HAVE SOME AMOUNT OF THE UNEXPECTED
Don’t get bent out of shape because the universe didn’t follow your personal plan for the day. As the famous song goes, “Ride with the tide and go with the flow.”
4 - EMOTIONAL REACTIVITY IS A TEACHER
Yes, it’s amazing how many people have the capacity to push our buttons, but our opportunity in these situations is to learn how to move through conflict while staying compassionate and connected.
5 - LESS IS OFTEN MORE
Set good limits and boundaries around negative relationships, technology time-sucks, and “urgent, but not important” tasks. Take breaks every day, invest in real face-time (not FaceTime) relationships, and experience a digital detox periodically.
6 - MAKE AND KEEP APPOINTMENTS WITH THE ONE PERSON WHO NEEDS IT THE MOST: YOU
You honor your commitments to others, right? Put an hour of focused project time in the group calendar, which means you don’t check email or voicemail for that period. Leave the office for a “Systems Enhancement Session” (the gym), or take a half- day hike every month to restore your purpose and clarity. Your work and your team will be better for it.
7 - IF YOU'RE NOT PART OF A BUSINESS CULTURE THAT WORKS, WORK ON IT
Have the courageous principle- and values-centered conversations that you need to in order to bring respect and results into difficult situations. Get better tools and coaching if you need it.
8 - CALL ON YOUR TRIBE
These are trusted collaborators who honestly support and challenge you, even when it may be outside their (or your) comfort zone. Have appropriate professional vulnerability so you can grow from what you don’t know — yet.
9 - GO DEEP
Ask yourself and your closest circle: how does your work connect you with service and spirit? How are you getting out of your own way so others can find theirs? What are the best practices to move through the business day with insight, grace, and humility? How do you celebrate this delicious opportunity to be alive and in a business that is a force for good? There are no definitive answers, just an ongoing process.
In the end, you are truly the only one responsible for your own happiness and balance, especially when work feels as if it is all-consuming.
We are some of the fortunate ones who get to live to work, instead of just working to live.
Keeping a balanced perspective takes effort at times, but it is a better way to experience life and work than simply being “swept along.”
If you bring conscious intent, create consistency around best practices, and operate from your center, you will have deeper connections with your “self,” the amazing diversity of others, and our precious planet. It’s more fun, too!