Work-Life Integration: Finding Happiness at the Intersection
The term work-life balance was coined in 1986, the year after I completed graduate school. In retrospect, I’m glad I missed that memo that suggests you’re either working or you’re living.
I have found that the best outcomes and greatest happiness come when you love your work and find a way to integrate work and life. Rather than balance, I’ve seen my career as a beautiful work-life mash-up. I’ve found the best of both worlds by allowing my work to add richness to my personal life, and by allowing my personal life to inspire my work.
Then there’s the element of luck … the swizzle stick that creates unexpected opportunity, if you let it. Like everybody, I’ve had my share of luck-related events, both good and bad … and I’ve been fortunate to turn at least a few of them into opportunities that were career and life changing.
One such good luck event occurred for me in Las Vegas in 1985. I had just finished setting up my booth for a medical conference and, while awaiting a very slow elevator, a handsome man with a 1980’s Tom Selleck mustache struck up a conversation. Over the next couple of days, the man, whose name is Steve, kept showing up at my exhibit. And the next week, he turned up in Philadelphia where I was living and planning my upcoming wedding. As it turned out, Steve was the hand that pulled me out of the fire, causing me to rethink what was important for a life-long partner. It was a gut-wrenching decision, but I ultimately called off the planned wedding … a decision that caused shock and awe among friends and family.
In February of this year, Steve and I celebrated our 32nd anniversary, and I owe the very best things in my life to him, starting with family and including many aspects of my career.
Another major life-changing luck event occurred in 2006, when I telephoned Dr. Katie Rodan to ask a favor for a business colleague. Before I could share the reason for my call, Katie interjected that she had been planning to call me and asked if I could meet with her, Dr. Kathy Fields and execs at Estee Lauder to help them consider an alternative go-to-market strategy for their Rodan + Fields line of skincare products. As luck would have it, the Lauder organization was not optimally positioned for the pivot we prescribed, so a decision was made to repurchase the company and I joined the entrepreneurial doctors to re-launch their eponymous line of skincare products into the direct selling class of trade.
There were many factors that aligned on behalf of the business, but none was more significant than the coalescence of a network of intelligent, professional women who joined us as independent consultants.
Nothing gave me more joy than supporting these brilliant, passionate micro-entrepreneurs as they created their own work-life mash-ups.
Nobody could have predicted that the fledgling indie brand would quickly grow to become the number one skincare brand in North America. However, to me, the greatest success was being a part of the lives of so many amazing women and moreover, having them in my life.
Steve and I retired from active management a little over three years ago. Steve quickly mastered the art of retirement, but given that my work was so much a part of my life, I found it emotionally challenging to let go.
Then, in July of 2017, another luck event occurred – this time it was the bad kind. I was diagnosed with Invasive Lobular Carcinoma (read breast cancer). I didn’t see it coming; I was otherwise in great health when I found the little lump. But ultimately, what looked like an unfortunate turn in luck ended up being a truly beautiful experience. My work-life mashup not only helped connect me to the best possible surgical and medical team, it gave me the deepest appreciation for the people who came into my life for business, but stayed for friendship.
My work-life mash-up showed me that when it REALLY counts, purpose and love trump a corner office and a resume. And for all those believing success will lead to happiness, you should know that many studies demonstrate that the opposite is more likely to be the case … that happiness cultivates success. So here’s to work, life, love and luck. May you find your happiness at the intersection.
~ Lori Bush