So let’s talk about over-used terms for a minute.
If you’ve been in the business world for any length of time you’ve likely heard your management espouse the desire for employees to achieve greater work/life balance. Many U.S. companies have adopted programs to help employees strike a better life balance by providing health club benefits, entertainment discount programs, and additional time off for events such as the birth of a child. Despite all this, Americans are of the most overworked and flat-out busy people on earth, recently surpassing the Japanese and long surpassing the Europeans. With all this discussion of work/life balance, how can we in the U.S. also be of the most overworked people in the world? The answer is pretty simple; many of us talk work/life balance, but don’t live work/life balance primarily because we don’t know how to do it.
One day, my wife Patty and I were eating lunch when she said, “I’ve been seeing some social media posts about mental load; have you ever heard of it?”
“No,” I answered, wondering if I’ve been missing out.
She then told me more about what she’s seen and its impact on people. Intrigued by the term and her explanation, I decided to do a bit more research on mental load. Here’s a little of what I learned from healthline.com:
Read more at ProjectManagement.com.
One of my favorite family movies is Mary Poppins. My grown kids will still tell you that my favorite part was watching Dick Van Dyke’s character Bert dance with the animated penguins. (Even as I type this, I have a smile on my face just thinking about his facial expressions as he flopped around in his sagging pants.)
Aside from Van Dyke’s talent as a dancer, there was something else about Bert’s character that interested me: Bert was a one-man band, chalk artist, chimney sweep, and kite salesperson. The jobs had little in common other than the fact that Bert had skills that enabled him to perform each job.
While Bert may have been happy doing each of the jobs, it doesn’t appear on the surface that there was any intentionality to his job choices. Having a wayward approach to career changes worked great in the movie, but it might not work so well in your professional life.
Read more at ProjectManagement.com.
Book Review: Your Identity Theft Protection Game Plan - 7 Critical Steps to Prevent the Fastest Growing Crime in America from Happening to You
Brad was an incredibly bright young executive with a very promising future. Ever since graduating college, he seemed to take on increased responsibilities in his company like a duck to water. He married his college sweetheart, Nancy, right after graduation and has two small children. Brad's talent didn't go unnoticed in the industry, with several competitors approaching Brad about his willingness to join another firm. He steadfastly resisted, that is until the offer of all offers came his way.
Cantata Group, a larger and more prominent competitor to his current company, wined and dined Brad and ultimately offered him a VP position with a higher salary and better benefits. The offer was too good to pass up so Brad talked with Nancy about the job and they both became enamored with how this was going to advance Brad's career and what they would be able to do with the extra money. Brad joyfully accepted Cantata's offer, gave his current company two weeks' notice, and started in his new VP role.
Within a year of joining Cantata, he noticed some unexpected side effects of his new position. He was required to be in weekly global executive virtual meetings which could happen at any time of the day or night. He was routinely working 60+ hours a week, missing dinner with Nancy and the kids. He traveled at least once a week, many times to put out fires at clients. His eating habits were horrendous and he wasn't exercising due to his schedule. He began putting on weight. Nancy was frustrated with him not being around and his kids missed their daddy. The stress was unbearable and led to Brad one day grabbing his chest and collapsing during a customer meeting.
I always want to ensure I am putting my four decades of experience to good use by helping others grow—and helping them avoid some of the (many) mistakes I made as a project manager, leader and human being.
In thinking through my responsibility as a steward, it occurred to me that being effective as a project manager is much more than honing skills—it’s about guiding project managers in not only work skills, but also life experiences. It’s about positioning project managers for long-term success. It’s about helping PMs bounce back from failure, learn from it, and then help others avoid the same failure. It’s about what I call building sustainability, which will be the underlying theme of my content: the Sustainable PM.
Read more on my column at ProjectManagement.com.
Secrets of success? Oh puh-leeze. There aren't any secrets of success in my opinion. Success is achieved through things that we've been taught to do for years and years. Good old-fashioned hard work is one of your strongest foundations to ensure meeting your life goals. In addition, building the following pillars on the foundation of hard work will increase the likelihood that you can meet those goals and achieve your dreams. Check out these four pillars and see if any resonate with you:
Friday looked to be like any other day.
I got up, had breakfast, and left the house around 8:30 for a day of meetings. We had planned on having another couple over for dinner that night and a day trip with our son on Saturday. About noon, Patty called me saying she had a pain in her abdomen since getting up and it was getting worse. I asked her if she wanted me to come home. She told me she didn’t need me home, but that we should probably cancel dinner in the event she had something contagious. I was out for a few more hours and came home to her sitting on the couch, saying the pain wasn’t going away. Her temperature was 101. We talked to a tele nurse who suggested it might be an infection and that we should go to urgent care. After a short wait we got checked in. The pain continued on, now accompanied by nausea. They ran blood tests then, after seeing the results, decided to do a computed tomography (CT) scan of her abdomen. What did the blood tests reveal? Why the CT scan? What were they looking for? What’s going on? These questions raced through my mind as they took Patty away for the scan. About ten minutes later she came back, where we sat and waited for about two hours; Patty’s pain stubbornly persistent along with the nausea. Then the doctor came in.
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