Monday, August 8, 2016

The Myth of Maintaining Separate Professional and Personal Lives

One of the most common beliefs that I find with Coaching Clients is that they are great at separating their Professional and Personal lives. They point to having separate personal and professional emails and phones, they use LinkedIn for business contacts and Facebook for personal, they leave work at a set time and rarely bring work home to complete. The list goes on.

They are, of course, fooling themselves.

Some of what they list for me are great systems for helping establish some barriers and even balance between work and home, some are great productivity habits and others are great skills for simply coping.  They are not walls between work and home though.

It is impossible to maintain separate Business and Personal lives.  Impossible, regardless of how high or thick the wall you attempt to construct between the two. There is a constant element that crosses that divide every day.  That constant is you.

Given that you are the same person that is at home in the morning dealing with getting the kids off to school, the dog walked and your suit pressed, the same person in the office dealing with the boss's demands, the team meeting from hell and the coffee machine that drips out dishwater, the same person who deals with aging parents, family health issues, divorce, fights with friends... it is impossible for you to remain separate.

The experiences you have at home influence your thoughts and actions on the job.  And... the reverse is also true.  Don't kid yourself.  You ALWAYS bring work home with you.  And you NEVER leave your personal self sitting outside the office door at the start of the work day.

This is a critical point to get.  Without understanding this you may not be developing the best strategies and solutions for problems you may be experiencing.

  • That problem you are having with your coworker may be more a reflection of the issues you are experiencing with your spouse but... your coworker is a more comfortable target for your frustration
  • The challenges you have with parenting may explain your frustration with leading your work team
  • Your lack of decisiveness on the job right now may be due to the overwhelm you are experiencing with all of the decisions required by being the executor of your parent's will, while dealing with combative siblings
No aspect of our life is separate because we are not divided.  We are a whole being and need to look at our Professional and Personal lives as components of that whole.  What happens in one aspect of our life impacts other aspects.  

If you are working with a Coach on a business challenge expect that you may have to explore some personal issues.  I have had Managers who were to receive coaching on a decline in their Leadership skills that actually needed support and coaching through the divorce they were dealing with.  I have had Managers who were to receive coaching on a decline in their Productivity that actually needed support and coaching dealing with the fallout of their spouse's terminal illness.  

How you are doing and feeling in one area of your life impacts how you are doing and feeling in all others.

You are one person, with one life.  You simply have multiple activities and roles.  It is the blending of all of those that create the life you live.  Thinking of them as separate can prevent you from finding the answers you want or the help you might need.  

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