Why You Should Ditch the Idea of Work-Life Balance and Adopt Jeff Bezos's Work-Life Harmony
“Work-life balance” is one of the more common phrases you hear tossed around in the corporate world. For a long time, I believed in it wholeheartedly.
Lately, though, I’ve been rethinking the idea of work-life balance, which implies that the two are completely separate entities that cannot exist at the same time. What if instead of focusing on dividing the two, we focused on combining them in a way that enhances them both?
Recently, I did some reading on work-life balance and discovered that Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, has a fascinating perspective on the concept as a whole. Rather than thinking of it as a balance, he prefers to think of it as work-life harmony. “If I’m happy at work, I’m better at home — a better husband and better father. And if I’m happy at home, I come into work more energized — a better employee and a better colleague,” Bezos told Thrive Global in 2016.
Bezos later built upon this thought when he said, “I prefer the word ‘harmony’ to the word ‘balance’ because balance tends to imply a strict tradeoff. It actually is a circle; it’s not a balance,” he said.
Bezos is one of the most prominent business leaders in the world, so his perspectives on work-life harmony are really interesting to me. When I think about work-life harmony rather than work-life balance, I’m struck by how much more satisfying it feels. After all, I’m still a husband, a father, a brother, a son, and a friend when I’m at work. I don’t check those parts of me at the door. They’re a key part of my identity, and they affect my experiences in the workplace.
On the flipside, I always strive to be present when I’m at home with my family. Yet my work is important to me, and I want my family to know that I’m driven and passionate about what I do when I go to work in the morning.
Rather than segmenting my life into two completely separate worlds, I want the different aspects of my life to be in harmony. I want my happiness at home to bring happiness into the workplace, and I want my successes in the workplace to be successes for my entire family. I think that’s one of the most important things I’ve learned in my entire career: that my personal life and my work aren’t just able to co-exist, but are two beautiful parts of my world that can make each other even better.