Skills for Integrating Work and Life

By Dr. Stewart D. Friedman-with Strategy + Business Magazine interview by Susan Cramm, leadership coach, author, and former CFO and CIO

Do you ever feel as if you’re living multiple lives and that your various incarnations—executive, spouse, parent, friend, volunteer, artist, athlete—conflict with, rather than complement, each other? Many of us hold on tight to the hard-wired belief that life is something to be lived once work hours are over. It’s a sad thought.

Somewhere out there, a senior finance executive can’t wait to retire so that he can start using his time to pursue a career as a musician. A young woman may be volunteering in an unpaid internship in a school in India, which fulfills her passion to help others, while applying for a job back home that serves only to pay the bills.
Most of us agree that the concept of work-life balance is a myth —and that it only reinforces the zero-sum thinking that work is work and life is life. The delayed gratification inherent in the learn-earn-return model of career stages doesn’t resonate with our innate desire to live each day to the fullest.

That’s why Leading the Life You Want: Skills for Integrating Work and Life captured my attention. I interviewed Dr. Stewart D. Friedman, a professor at the Wharton School and the founding director of the Wharton Work/Life Integration Project. In 1987, motivated by the birth of his son, Friedman, a psychologist by training, started challenging his business school students to articulate how they were going to make the world better for their employees and families. Since then, Friedman says, he’s felt “spurred on” to research how others have indeed improved the world. And over the course of almost 30 years, examining the lives of thousands of individuals, he has discovered something simple, but profound: Those who lead satisfying, successful lives do so by, “taking their unique gifts and passions and making them useful to other people.”

Friedman believes that life is “the intersection and interaction of the 4 domains”: work/school, home/family, community/society, and the private realm of mind, body, and spirit. And while he agrees that it’s impossible to have it all—all of the time, anyway—it is possible “to be conscious of what and who matter most” and to identify four-way wins, “actions that result in life’s being better in all four domains.” By focusing on work-life integration, not balance, we can create harmony, rather than conflict.

Learn more about the BOOK here

The Book also includes a survey readers can take to assess their own work-life integration skills. The Assessment is followed up with profiles of 6 well-known individuals who illustrate that it is indeed possible to achieve “four-way wins.”

View and use the free Assessment Tool here

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