Well, well, well. It is fortuitous, as we celebrate National Work and Family Month that work-life balance issues are in the news all the time, again. The Atlantic magazine article by Anne-Marie Slaughter kicked off a new round of work-life balance soul-searching. It's always a good thing to have this issue in the forefront. The only thing better would be not to have it in the forefront.
Not to have it in the forefront, because there would be no need. Men and women alike would be able to do meaningful work, take excellent care of their families, take care of themselves, and give back to their communities. Kumbayah!
It is taking a very long time, indeed, to get to kumbayah. In a book I co-authored back in 1994, the Preface is titled "The Earth Shifts: Babies 1, Football Game 0." Houston Oiler, David Williams, missed a game to be with him wife and newborn son. The brouhaha was enormous.
So here we are, 18 years later, still trying to figure out work-life balance. Ah, patience, patience. As the Chief Noticing Officer of The Did Ya Notice? Project, may I not so humbly declare: "Here's what needs to be done!"
- Office professionals all need flexibility in their schedules and the ability to telework.
- People who work in factories or in 24 hour industries (nursing, for example) need consistent schedules so they can manage child care and other family responsibilities. They also need more flexible leave so that they can handle emergencies.
- Everyone needs an understanding boss who manages by results and not by "face time". If a boss does not understand how to manage by results, he or she should get out of the "kitchen".
- And the big one.....We all need to NOTICE!
The world, and everything in it (including humans), is beautiful, weird, annoying, amazing, stupefying, horrifying, and astounding. Noticing things will give you satisfaction. Saying "wow" will make you happier. Noticing things is a wonderful way to have a conversation with your children, regardless of how young or old they are. Noticing things is a great conversation starter with your elderly parents.
What kinds of things might you Notice? What do you think is the most ingenious invention of all time? I think it is the zipper. Have you Noticed all the fractals in nature - cauliflower, snowflakes, mountain ranges? Did Ya Notice that hexagons are everywhere from a turtle's shell to a cloud over Saturn? Do you know anything more soothing than a wooden screen door in the country that clop, clop, clops quietly shut?
To Notice is To Live. And Noticing is the secret, missing ingredient for work-life balance!
A version of this post originally appeared in Margery Leveen Sher's blog The Did Ya Notice? Project