I don’t believe in work-life balance and I think pursuing it or designing for it will lead to frustration, feeling guilty, and in many cases a failure in both – work AND life.
With all of the headlines and all the people who talk about how important it is to find this elusive balance, why am I being so dismissive of the concept?
I have quite a few issues with the concept of work-life balance, but far and away, the biggest is, to me, it leads to a scarcity mindset. You start thinking and saying things like:
“I need to cut work short today to spend time with my family.”
“I can’t hang out on the beach all day as I need to get through some emails.”
When you are at work you feel guilty you are missing things at home. When you are at home you feel like you are letting your company down. Or worse, you aren’t doing either well… You are at home sitting on the floor with your kids but looking at your phone, not them.
Work-life balance immediately puts you in scarcity thinking (I don’t have time, I have to make a tradeoff, etc.).
And as you may know about me, I DON’T ACCEPT THE TRADEOFFS and will say it right here and now, YOU SHOULDN’T EITHER.
Not only because life is short (it is), or because you may get sick before you have the time/money to travel the world (you may), or because you will wake up one day with your kids in college realizing you missed too much (you certainly may)… but because the strategy is flawed.
Your business can scale MORE when you stop accepting the tradeoffs. You can have more freedom and time when you refuse to pursue balance.
I don’t believe you should work yourself to exhaustion so you can take time off to spend time with friends/family and enjoy life on weekends or on two weeks of vacation each year.
I certainly don’t think you should trade your ambitions and dreams of building an amazing business and career by settling for being a 9-5 drone so you might have more time with your family.
There should be no tradeoff.
The answer is BOTH. YES. ALL. This is abundance thinking.
If not work-life balance, then what is the goal?
You should pursue what I call “Living a Scaled LIFE.”
We’ve all heard the gurus talk to us about scaling our companies. Tricks, hacks, strategies to get to the next level. And from the right source, those are great. But often, a tragic byproduct of scaling your business is you LOSE time. You have LESS freedom. You have FEWER chances to just enjoy life. Scarcity amid scale? Interesting.
Ask people who are running an 8 figure business or who have 50+ employees if their freedom is increasing? Sadly most will immediately start talking about the time they have to spend managing people, sitting in meetings, dealing with problems, and putting out fires. Scarcity.
If you are doing these things so that ONE DAY you can sell the company or hire the right CEO to take over, then you are placing a bet on an unknown and unknowable future. You are making assumptions on what might happen and dreaming of pursuing your dreams and your LIFE “if, when, after ________.”
I have a better idea.
Don’t accept (or fall for) the tradeoffs.
Pursue Living a Scaled LIFE.
Living a Scaled LIFE means you control your time. You control the when, where, and how. You can work on a Saturday because you want to watch your kid’s school play on a Tuesday. I’m not talking about entitlement (that you “deserve” it) or just having a flexible role; I’m talking about life design so that you live a full life.
Hard work? Sure.
Easy to pull off? No way.
Worth it? Without question.
It just may be the difference between you having a good life or an amazing one.
Living a Scaled Life
I often dig in deep with entrepreneurs to help them achieve Living a Scaled Life. It requires a new set of thinking for most people. No one is going to say “Hey Mac, work when you want, do what you want, and we will pay you well for it”.
You have to build a great business or add so much value that the “when” or “where” doesn’t matter.
You have to divorce time and money.
You have to be intentional.
I am going to share an outline of the absolute KEY steps to escaping the grind and Living a Scaled Life, but even before that, here are three quick strategies you can start using today on your path to Living a Scale Life:
Strategy One: Fusion
Unlike “balance,” where you are always in a specific mode or place (i.e., at work, at home, with the kids, with co-workers) and fight for a reasonable allocation of time to the other buckets, Fusion means you blur the lines. You “work” at home, at the office, at odd hours, and on vacation not because you need to but because you can. You can achieve great things because you are able to work when it is optimal and productive. You also get to live a life you are passionate about (family, friends, charity work, sports, etc.) seven days a week (not just on weekends or on vacation).
My home office is 5 feet (through a breezeway) from my house. That allows me to get to work quickly (no downtime, no long commute), and when I take a break, I can have a coffee or lunch with my wife without skipping a beat. I DESIGNED my life, top to bottom, around what matters to me.
Some days you leave early to go for a hike. You have a long lunch with your husband/wife or best friend in the middle of the week. You take a Wednesday off to hang out with your kids or bring them to work with you to show them what you do. You travel with family but get up early to respond to emails before hitting the beach. Fusion can lead to Living a Scale Life.
Strategy Two: Focus
Achieving Living a Scale Life requires discipline. You have to be able to work when your brain is sharp, and you are in FLOW. You need to be able to get into flow and focus when you need to get something done. You have to build processes, hire people, and build systems that allow you to spend 80%+ of your time on things that Move the Needle, not just staying busy or doing menial tasks. And although you have the ability to work on a Saturday, you can’t sit at your kid’s recital on your mobile phone the whole time – that isn’t LIFE; that is being trapped. You have to be present for your family. Fusion is about priorities and moving your efforts and energy to the things that matter most.
This “focus” is daily and something you will have to work on constantly. But when you stay hyper-focused on things that Move the Needle and are aligned with what you are passionate about, you’ll be amazed at the energy it produces.
Strategy Three: Design
You have to design a business around your life, family, goals, and dreams. Design means you have to plan, measure, learn, iterate, and evolve. You have to commit to making it work. When you do this with such focus and efficiency that people just see you do great work and get stuff done, your TIME won’t matter. Results matter.
Design your life around things that matter, and when you are at work, FOCUS (again, on things that Move the Needle) so your output is huge. Design also means your company culture (peers, bosses, employees, associates, partners, etc.) all have to understand how you work and KNOW that you are about results. If you have a boss or a coworker that thinks sitting in a cubicle all day is how great work gets done, then you have to educate and demonstrate that you operate at a higher level of output and value than anyone who sits in a cubicle.
If there is one thing that you need to understand right now (and likely make a huge shift or change in mindset), it is this: No one OWES you or will GIVE you flexibility or Living a Scale Life… You design it and make it happen!
And to highlight the point one more time to ensure you let this sink in (as we often have years or even decades of voices in our heads), I am not saying take your foot off the business accelerator and just spent more time traveling and hanging with your kids… I am saying BOTH. Double down on business growth. Have a bigger vision and ambition for your company and career. AND commit to travel more. Be home for dinner more. Coach your kid’s teams.
BOTH. YES. ALL.
There are strategies that develop from this abundance mindset. It isn’t hopes and dreams; it is actions and results.
To help you get started, I want to share a few powerful resources.
First, here is my personal cheat sheet. The one I use myself to stay focused on these actionable steps HERE.
Second, if you haven’t heard my personal story on HOW and WHY I did this, here is the short video. To me, this is one of the most important videos I have ever recorded.
Third, a big insider tip. I created an entire course around this, and before you decide I’m trying to sell you something, let me share the secret.
Third, a big insider tip. I created an entire program for this where I mentor/advise entrepreneurs not only on how to create the option to exit, but how to scale your business while increasing personal freedom. It is our application-only program, ExitDNA Helix