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GUEST COLUMN

Finding grace when your job is a drag

The concept of work-life balance is a crock. If your job is sucking you dry, leaving you with no semblance of a real life, better balance isn't going to help you at all.

That's because work-life balance is a fundamentally flawed concept at best. It implies that your work is on one side of the equation and your life is over on the other. Two opposing forces that must be carefully weighed against each other at all times. Spread enough of yourself around in equal parts and you have the formula for success.

And we wonder why we're going nuts.

The key to a richer life isn't about maintaining the proper balance, it's about creating congruence. It's about doing work that connects with the essence of who you really are. Each of us has a contribution to make, and when our work is in alignment with our skills and talents, it doesn't take away from our lives, it adds to it. Which leads me to the four-letter word that is the real secret of success - L-O-V-E. Yes, you read that right - love.

Have you ever seen the look on someone's face who truly loves what they do? And who loves the people they are doing it with? They shine. They shine because their work reflects who they are as a human being and because they know they're making a contribution that matters.

Love isn't some flower child woowoo concept we need to pursue outside the office. Love is exactly what we need to bring into our jobs. It doesn't matter whether you're working for Procter & Gamble or the PTA, infusing your work with love delivers a better ROI (return on investment) than any other single outlay you can make.

I've been a business consultant for 15 years, I know how to dissect a P&L, and I've played ball with the big boys at the top of the corporate food chain. I can promise you, if you want better results - love is the answer you're looking for.

Putting love into your work means putting your actions into context. Connecting your contribution to the big picture of your organization, and the big picture of your life.

It's about paying attention to the moment you're in, and being fully present for the people you're with. Love happens when you get your mind, your body and your spirit in the same place at the same time. Because when you're fully present, that's when you finally give your soul permission to show up. And it's your soul that gives off the shine.

If you're mindlessly going through the motions in a job you hate, your life is on the fast track to misery, no matter how you balance it. But before you start checking the want ads, let me tell you, the meaning you get out of your work is in direct proportion to the meaning you put into it. Whether you're a volunteer or a vice president, you're the one who decides whether or not you're going to bring love into the equation.

Going to work shouldn't dim your light, it ought to ignite it. So forget balance, start with love and think congruence, connection and contribution instead. Monday is a new day, and it's Take Your Soul to Work Day. Because quite frankly, I think a few of us have been leaving ours at home.

So the next time that alarm clock goes off, make the decision to wake up, show up and shine.

Excerpted from Lisa Earle McLeod's "Finding Grace When You Can't Even Find Clean Underwear", (April 1, 2007 - Jefferson Press).

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