Taking a Pause

Key Point: Why are so many of us struggling to effectively integrate work and life? More than ever in my 40 plus years in the workplace, I see people grappling with the personal situation they find themselves in. I was reading an article by Janice Marturano of the Institute for Mindful Leadership, and I found the following excerpts from her blog resonating with my observations:

“A middle manager with a family gets up at 6 a.m., he helps get the kids ready for school, heads off to a day of constant meetings and calls (he’s not sure if he ate lunch), leaves for home around 7 p.m. to help with homework and household needs, followed by 3 hours on the computer to catch up on emails that he didn’t get to during the day, and then falls into bed after midnight. Sound familiar? Does anyone think this man is bringing his best leadership anywhere-at work or at home? Or is it more likely that he is going through the motions, just trying to survive? The qualities we need to be our best selves are unlikely to arise in this state of being… Just look around your workplace or listen to those in your family. We do not need to look far to see people going through the motions or so busy that they really don’t know what they are doing. How many are taking sleeping pills or antidepressants? How many would feel guilty about staying home when they are sick?… The old model of leadership and the old definitions of excellence have left us with an epidemic of employee disengagement and widespread stress related health problems that threaten to bankrupt our health care system… There is no simple fix. But we need to begin by stopping long enough to see and feel and know what our lives today are about, what our organizations are about, and how we want to be in the world. We already know what leadership excellence is… Now we need more leaders with the courage to develop it.” 

I’m not foolish enough to think that somehow the world of work will ever be utopia. Nor will our personal lives. This is a by-product of being human. However, I do think that we can personally be more mindful and intentional about the choices we make. 

Character Moves: 

  1. Just stop for a moment. What are you doing? Why? Is it working for you? If you are a formal leader what are you doing to help people be more present with themselves and others? What kind of example do you provide?
  2. Think about using an app like Headspace to help take that needed pause in your life. You’re worth it. 
  3. If you’re a top leader, take responsibility for the culture and environment you’ve created. Any extreme views like winning at all costs or purposeless mediocrity are equally dysfunctional. There is lots of room in between; the act of creating organizational value and personal contribution coexisting in a very healthy and integrated way.

A pause in The Triangle, 


One Millennial View: That description of that middle manager’s life in Janice Marturano’s blog above should just be titled “Every Millennial’s Nightmare.” But let’s face it, it’s likely that could absolutely be our future reality, and you know what? That’s OK. Here’s my perspective: If we look at it with optimism, it’s really NOT THAT BAD. That blog OMITS the part about how he has the luxury of a family… How he has a home to come to and fro, and therefore the means to buy one… How parts of his day were likely spent managing his Fantasy Football team with his friends, laughing, texting his wife (or whatever), planning a trip, and taking that new boot camp class at the gym he really likes where the instructor kind of laughs at him (but he’s getting better at it). Oh, and his kids aren’t that bad either! Dare we assume he might even love them? Y’know?!? But her blog is meant to paint this endless cycle of “blah.” And THAT is the nightmare part of it from one Millennial perspective. What if life was as daunting, boring and “blah” as Marturano’s bummer of a blog threatens for it to be? It’s not that I’m scared of working a lot, juggling long hours, family obligations, or answering late emails. What I’m TERRIFIED of, is that time spent is boring, uninspired, unappreciated, useless and routine. Thanks to blogs like that one, I can remind myself that I can at the very least, control how I read into it.  

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

One Comment
  1. Jodi says:

    Janice Marturano’s blog described about three years of my life until I made a major career change six months ago. I was so overwhelmed with the hundreds of emails and tasks I was given each day that I could barely keep afloat. My prioritization system centered around who would be the most upset with me if I didn’t get their thing done next. I felt like I was running on a treadmill that would never stop – it just kept getting faster and faster. Any creativity or love for my work was long gone because I didn’t have time for that!

    When I read Garrett’s comments, initially I was a little annoyed. Sure, I owned a house and could text my husband or plan a trip during the day. I wanted to say to you, “If you think that’s what she meant you’ve missed the point. She is talking about never feeling at peace…ever!” When you’re in this cycle, the fun stuff like fantasy leagues or good workouts end up feeling like more “work” to try and fit in somehow. There was never any contentment – just survival.

    Because your blog was down for last two days, I got a chance to re-read Garrett’s comments and now I do think you got the point because you recognize the “blah.” If I may, I think for me it wasn’t so much about “blah” as it was “ahhhhhhhh!!!!!!” It was adrenaline-rush level stress all the time. I was in fight or flight almost constantly and it really sucked.

    Now that I am away from that time of my life, I can look back and chalk it up to boundaries. I block out enough time during the DAY to do my work and I protect those blocks as if they represent my sanity. I am vigilant about my schedule and will sometimes say no to meetings or tasks if I can’t do it all. It’s amazing how people will respect my time now that I respect my time. Of course there are weeks that are more hectic than others, but 95% of the time, I feel like I am controlling the speed of the treadmill now and I can shut it off when I want to and not feel a second of anxiety. I cannot tell you how much this has improved my mental and emotional health, my self-confidence, and my love of life. Today I am so GRATEFUL for my home that I now ENJOY, and my workouts that I look FORWARD to, and my family that I LOVE spending time with. 🙂

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