I’ve always struggled with that phrase because it compartmentalises the two – work and life. And it comes up regularly with leadership mentoring. So I liked that my daughter sent me the below, what appeared to be a very contemporary take on it, with a note that it “made me think of you. This is my goal too 🙂”:
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself he always seems to be doing both. Enough for him that he does it well.”
Thanks, Lawrence Pearsall (L.P.) Jacks, ‘Education through Recreation’ (1932) – people have struggled with this for a long time.
A colleague has a calm about him. When at work he talks about his family and when at home he talks about work. He seems to have worked out a ‘life balance’, so that even when he got cancer, he quietly strapped a pack of poisonous chemicals inside his shirt with an attached tube inserted into his stomach and got on with life. Only his closest friends knew. When we shared a board role, he spoke the least but seemed the wisest. He thinks critically but creates consensus.
Then there’s another phrase, ‘Work Hard, Play Hard’. It made sense to me for a number of years, but now that going-flat-out-regardless suggests a certain mindlessness.
So I’ll settle for ol’ LP Jacks and his pursuit of ‘excellence through whatever he was doing’.