Work and Life Journeys

I recently came across two interesting references  that got me thinking and reflecting.  Firstly The Four Journeys of the Leader, by Prof Gillian Stamp  and The Great Life Redesign, by Caroline  Cameron.

Now I may be showing my age, however, I have been giving a lot of thought lately to where I have been, where I am, and where I am going in life.  I guess this is why they call it mid-life.  My first conscious memory of some one else describing me as being in midlife was when I was 33 years old.  Whilst I resented a 21 year old seeing me in that way (thanks Neil), he wasn’t too far off the mark. Journeys and transitions are an inevitable part of life, whether they be at work or more broadly in life.

As we know, reflection and understanding self is foundational in being an effective leader.  Gillian Stamp provides a very insightful framework looking at the four journeys in our life as leader:

  • The Journey of the Self this underlying journey is the narrative of our lives: where we were born, grew up, studied, worked, etc
  • The Public Journey this second journey is at work where we express our leadership and attempt to balance delivering value and sustaining quality relationships
  • The Private Journey this journey is our life away from work and is shared with family, friends, and a community.  This is where leadership can be expressed with children, community organisations and aging parents, to mention a few
  • The Personal Journey this is the ultimate journey where we weave together the other 3 journeys.  Stamp describes it as finding the grain of the self and learning how to go with it.  This is about making time and space for ourselves to reflect and thereby get in touch with our inner resources (re: The Great Life Redesign).  

How do we do this?  Stamp suggests:

  • Developing and deepening reflectiveness (stopping and thinking)
  • To understand how others see us (seeking feedback)
  • To have someone in our lives who tells it to us as it is (trusted advisor)

So how are your journeys going?  Where are you spending your time?  How is the balance between the Public Journey and the Private Journey?  Are they woven together or separate?

This where Caroline Camerons excellent book stepped into the picture for me.  Whilst the wisdom and practical exercises and tips in her 300 page book are endless and far reaching, the statement that still resonates for me is the concept that work-life balance is a myth!  That all we have to do is balance all the parts of our lives simultaneously ... and then be happy...  It implies that work is bad and the rest of life is good, with happiness and well being resulting from less work and more life.  

How would you be if you took the attitude that you don’t have a work and a life you only have one life?  What decisions would you make?  Would you go on holidays for the rest of your life?  Even if you could afford to, I think not.

In essence, integrating the Self with the Public Journey and Private Journey is where happiness lies.  

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