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Balancing Work and Life

Lee Iacocca, former chairman of Chrysler Corporation, said that most of the 242 million working people, ?swing out of bed, yawn, and figure: ?Oh hell, I?ve got to make it through another day of drudgery?.? Working people are stressed out. Jack Canfield, author of Chicken Soup For the Soul, said that about 75% of workers don?t like what they are doing or who they work for.

A major explanation for stress has been uncertainty in the workplace as a result of increased competition, changing local and international trade regulations, merging of corporations and technological advances. These changes have been experienced nationally and locally, Idaho included. For example, Micron?s production and profits are directly affected by business practices and turmoil in East Asia. Zilog, Hewlett-Packard, Ore-Ida Inc. and other corporations constantly make major business adjustments to be profitable in an emerging and unpredictable environment.

Is change new to humanity? Are there better ways for an individual to thrive in a world of uncertainty? How can one balance the demands of personal life and work?

To answer these questions, I am inclined to use strategies that were used by the people of my native community, of Kamba in Kenya. Their stresses were caused by disease, famine, the presence of buffaloes and unpredictable tribal wars. The stresses experienced by Kambas and those in today?s workplace are similar because in both, one?s security is threatened, there is a sense of loss of one?s identity and loyalty to a system is negatively affected.

Using the strategies of the Kambas can help balance work and personal life.

1. Individuals established their purpose on earth from a perspective that was independent from one?s daily activities. In today?s chaotic workplace, each one should ask himself;: what is the primary purpose or mission in life? What is there to look back to and be glad?

2. With the purpose established, an individual committed his vision, decisions and actions on activities that helped him achieve his purpose. He aligned individual goals with those of the group he belonged to. In what ways can your employment help you attain that purpose? How are your life goals aligning with the vision and mission of the organization you are working for?

3. Self empowerment allowed individuals to take risks and venture into unsettled lands with confidence. Working people have to develop self-empowering strategies that allow them to use their creative and authentic potential to achieve their purposes as well as creating an environment for their employer?s success.

4. Natural and man made-changes were viewed as natural processes that perpetuated personal and community growth and new ways of survival. One has to view change in the workplace with a attitude towards new opportunities, including skills, knowledge and abilities, thus improving one?s employability.

5. Individuals and the community had rituals that helped people bounce back after going through a life?s devastating experience. Adherence to one?s faith, reflection on what had happened, staying in contact with others and physical activities were springboards for the soul, body and mind as one forged ahead with his journey of accomplishing his mission. These are aspects that can be used by anyone to refocus on their purpose during and after change.

6. Flexibility was a major survival strategy. People relocated or alternated livelihood from crop cultivators to livestock keepers to gatherers to hunters, based on prevailing conditions. The ability to let go of perceptions and practices that may not be beneficial to oneself or an organization is a stress-reduction step. ?Utility players? (those who play different positions of a game) are always searched for. A fortune cookie wisdom says, ?Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bend out of shape.?

7. Involvement in community affairs provided opportunities to learn, socialize, help others and strengthened a sense of belonging and contribution. Getting involved in one?s community is not only a networking strategy, but also an opportunity to help others, which is one of the secrets of success.

When work and personal life are balanced, one?s health, worth, increased productivity, and fulfillment are realized. Remember, ?There is nothing we can do that will bring us more in the way of rewards than daily striving to become better adjusted, happier, more productive human beings. It?s a lifetime job and worth every minute we spend on it.? Earl Nightingale

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