Common wisdom holds that to enhance well-being and reduce conflict and stress, you’ve got to ease up on work. Conversely, to have a significant impact on the world and be successful by prevailing societal standards, you’ve got to put work above pretty much everything else in your life.
This is zero-sum thinking, and it runs counter to what I have observed in three decades of teaching, practice, and research on the possibilities for achieving success in all areas of life. There are many truly successful people in our midst who have achieved greatness not by forsaking their families, communities, and private selves, but, rather, by embracing these parts of their lives. They have found creative ways to reduce conflict and replace it with a sense of harmony between work and the rest of life. Not only does this reduce stress and its discontents, it is the very source of the strength that enables their admirable accomplishments.
In Leading the Life You Want, I profiled successful people who exemplify this fundamental idea. They show how to harness the passions and powers of the various parts of their lives and bring them together to achieve what I call “four-way wins” — actions that result in life being better in all four domains, perhaps not all at once, but over the course of a lifetime. These people make a deliberate choice to be conscious of what and who matters most. Their actions — at work and elsewhere — flow from their values. They strive to do what they can to make things better for the people who matter most to them, those who depend on them and on whom they depend, in all the various aspects of their lives. Having this clarity of vision helps reduce conflict, stress, and strain.