Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a proponent of finding work/life balance AND a proponent of excellent client service. Though others may disagree, I think the two can and must co-exist, and frankly I question whether a lawyer can deliver top-notch legal services without some form of balance — recognizing that “balance” means radically different things to different people.
But “work/life balance” tends to take a beating at times. Some attorneys and some commentators think that work/life balance is a PC phrase for lazy lawyers. And I’ve been recently mulling over another way of expressing WLB ideas such as having a life outside practice, creating time and habits that support both practice and personal life, and using energy boosts from recreation to buoy the focus and output required by practice.
Peter Vajda recently commented on “engagement,” which he went on to describe as “the experience of an employee who is fully involved in, and enthusiastic about, his or her work. Folks who are ‘engaged’ proactively care about the future of their organization and are most often willing to invest, over and above, to ensure their organization’s success.” Well said, Peter.
That thought dovetails with a book I finished reading over the weekend called The Power of Full Engagement. I’ve recommended the book before based on a preliminary skim, but now that I’ve read it all the way through, it’s going on my “highly recommended resource” list for clients. Its premise is that most of us move through our careers as if we’re marathon runners, working from stress to stress with little or no time for recovery — and that doesn’t turn out so well. Instead, the authors recommend periods of strategic disengagement from work to facilitate regeneration, and that disengagement from work is generally engagement in some personal pursuit, whether that’s family time or an artistic hobby. In other words, it’s what I’d call work/life balance in motion, the attribute of being a person who is a lawyer rather than a lawyer who also does XYZ on the side.
So, perhaps we should be talking about how lawyers can become more fully engaged in their practices and lives? Readers, I’m curious: does the concept of “full engagement” resonate with you more than the idea of “work/life balance”?