Finding the Sweet Spot in Work and Life
There is a woman that I know, Gina, who makes great ice cream. Well, gelato to be precise. She learned the recipes from her mother, who learned them from her mother. The family’s gelato skills go back multiple generations to Italy. Ten years ago, several friends encouraged Gina to commercialize her gelato creations by creating a storefront gelateria. Gina was shocked that everyone thought so highly of her personal passion and her gelato skills, but now admits, “I took immense pride in my craft.” After assessing her family life and work life (at the time she worked in public administration in a Midwestern city), Gina decided to follow her passion and take the entrepreneurial plunge – she did so over time, building her business while continuing with her “day job” until there was size and scale (and money) to make it her full time. Today, Gina’s business is thriving, and she gets to her share her recipes and the success of her business with family. By the end of the year, Gina has plans to expand and scale her business for out-of-town fans of her gelato.
In both my individual coaching and mentoring sessions and in many of my keynotes, I share my philosophy: “where there’s conviction, there’s capacity.” Therefore, if making gelato is what you’re passionate about, then you can – and must make time for it. Unfortunately, most of us go through periods of priority confusion. Because of the frenetic pace of life, we often prioritize the wrong things while letting the passions that truly fuel us wither and die. I have experienced this dynamic firsthand. Earlier in my professional life, I left little space for some of the things that brought me joy – specifically around the commitment to certain relationships and my own selfcare. While I knew these facets of my life were important priorities – top priorities – I convinced myself that I didn’t have the bandwidth to take on the nonwork activities because of my work. I talked myself out of prioritizing the top priorities in my life. While I continued to rise in my professional career, I didn’t create the time for my own gelato, the priorities that brought joy to me and the people I love.
Where there’s conviction, there’s capacity. If you want to claim balance by thriving in both your professional and personal life, then be honest about your priorities. Write them out. Rank them. Have someone you trust review your list to see if what you write about yourself aligns with what your confidante sees in you. Spoiler Alert: There will be misalignment. With this information in front of you, it’s time to deploy your capacity where your conviction resides. As you allocate the best of your time and energy to the priorities that truly matter to you, harness the power of delegation and outsourcing. This is especially important for those of us in leadership. Empower your team and leverage their skills and experience, as well as and a broader network for which to delegate and outsource to. Additionally, if a task or opportunity doesn’t align with your convictions, if it does not bring you joy personally or professionally, then be confident with the boundaries you have created and give yourself permission to say, “No.”
Friends, the problem is not capacity, it’s priorities. If you’re honest with yourself about the things that are profoundly important – the sweet spot – then devote the best of your time and energy there. Gelato.