From the Broom Closet to the Board Room:
Balance Sustains Excellence

Two months before the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, I found myself contemplating resignation from my leadership position. Sitting at my desk, I confided in a colleague, prompting a shocked response.

“You realize that’s career suicide, don’t you?”

I replied, “My family needs me. My son is struggling, my marriage is suffering, and my elderly mother requires assistance with a health crisis. I’m stretched too thin.”

The response I was given was, “You’ve climbed the ladder rapidly. The hospital has rewarded you generously. Are you really willing to throw it all away?”

At the mention of my rapid rise, memories flooded back to my first day a decade earlier. The fear and excitement of starting anew, progressing from a novice nurse in the trauma ICU to a hospital director rubbing shoulders with top executives—it had been a whirlwind journey.

Recollections of relentless 60-80 hour workweeks followed. The hospital had rewarded my dedication, but it came at the cost of precious time with my family, particularly my son, whose milestones I’d largely missed.

Amidst the silence that ensued, my thoughts drifted to the roots of my nursing career. I recalled a pivotal encounter with a patient, Flora Toles, whose resilience in the face of adversity had left an indelible mark. Witnessing her suffering instilled in me a desire to advocate for those unable to advocate for themselves.

As my mind wandered through past experiences in healthcare, I returned to the present conversation, determined to prioritize my family over professional pursuits.

“I don’t see it as throwing anything away. It’s simply a new chapter in my journey, with my family as my primary focus.”

Concerns about logistics and potential backlash from management were raised, but I remained steadfast in my decision to offer a generous notice period.

The subsequent months unfolded unexpectedly. Contrary to my fears, the transition was met with understanding and support from both colleagues and superiors. I even had the opportunity to engage with the hospital CEO, forging a deeper connection than I had ever anticipated.

Reflecting on the experience, I gleaned several lessons: excellence fosters goodwill, balance is essential, and challenging the status quo can yield unexpected rewards. Most importantly, my assumptions about the outcome of my decision proved to be unfounded, underscoring the importance of maintaining a positive mindset.

In stepping away from my leadership role, I discovered that prioritizing family over career can lead to unexpected opportunities and renewed fulfillment. However, I also realized that work-life balance is essential for maintaining mental, emotional, and physical well-being at work and home.

Here are ten ways I have learned to achieve and promote work-life balance:

  1. Set Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life. Define specific work hours and stick to them, avoiding work-related tasks outside of these hours.
  2. Prioritize Tasks: Organize tasks by priority and focus on completing high-priority tasks during work hours. This can help prevent work from spilling over into personal time.
  3. Take Regular Breaks: Incorporate short breaks throughout the workday to rest and recharge. Stepping away from work, even for a few minutes, can improve productivity and reduce stress.
  4. Practice Time Management: Use time management techniques such as the Pomodoro Technique or time blocking to allocate specific time for work tasks and personal activities.
  5. Utilize Flexibility: If possible, take advantage of flexible work arrangements such as remote work or flexible hours. This can provide more control over your schedule and allow for better integration of work and personal responsibilities.
  6. Delegate Tasks: Delegate tasks when appropriate to lighten your workload and free up time for other activities. Trusting colleagues or outsourcing tasks can help prevent burnout and promote a healthier work-life balance.
  7. Engage in Self-Care Activities: Make time for self-care activities such as exercise, hobbies, meditation, or spending time with loved ones. Prioritizing self-care is crucial for maintaining overall well-being and preventing burnout.
  8. Set Realistic Goals: Set achievable goals, both in your professional and personal life. Avoid overcommitting yourself, as this can lead to stress and imbalance.
  9. Disconnect: Create boundaries between work and personal technology use. Limit checking work emails or messages outside your designated work hours to prevent work-related stress from intruding on personal time.
  10. Communicate: Communicate openly with your employer, colleagues, and family about your work-life balance needs. Establishing clear communication channels can help ensure understanding and support from all parties involved.

By implementing these strategies, individuals can create a healthier balance between their professional and personal lives, leading to increased satisfaction and well-being.

Excellence breeds excellence not only in one’s career but also in all aspects of life. When individuals strive for excellence in their actions and interactions, they inspire others to do the same. This ripple effect creates a positive environment where success becomes a shared journey, leading to fulfillment and achievement for all involved.

In closing, remember that a step back doesn’t have to be a bad thing; it can set you up for greater success in the years to come, especially when priorities like family and excellence are at the forefront of your decision-making process. By prioritizing what truly matters, we pave the way for a more fulfilling and balanced life, both personally and professionally.

Also, to avoid burnout and continually promote ever-increasing excellence, it’s crucial to prioritize self-care, maintain a healthy work-life balance, and regularly reassess our goals and priorities. Let us commit to fostering environments where individuals can thrive, personally and professionally, and encourage each other to reach new heights of excellence every day.

Jared Linder


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