Thursday, December 27, 2007

Beyond "balance": "CEO of Me" book review

About a year ago I wrote one of my all-time favorite Mojo Mom blog posts, Work-life balance: Our ladder is up the wrong tree. My thesis was that work-life balance is the wrong goal, and that instead, sharing life work and developing extensive support systems should be our guiding principle.

So when I read the new book CEO of Me: Creating a Life that Works in the Flexible Job Age, I felt a deep resonance with these authors, among the only others I've seen that both challenge our reliance on the work-life balance metaphor, and also embrace the concept of sustainability.

CEO of Me is most definitely a business book, written by two professors, Dr. Ellen Ernst Kossek and Dr. Brenda Lautsch, who consulted the latest research to come up with their own plan for flexible work strategies. What I like about CEO of Me is that it challenges us to look beyond our own impressions of the ideal work environment. Maybe we're just stuck in a rut and can learn from others. For me, I found that I have become too enamored with the idea that "flexibility is good" and that I would be more effective if I mixed flexibility and structure to make sure I get everything done.

After reading the book I am motivated to re-examine my Franklin Covey planning strategies, even though this is not specifically mentioned in CEO of Me.

The book suffers a bit from business-speak jargon (ex., I still don't really understand what "interpersonal capitalization" is), but it's worth sticking with the authors as they explore flexstyles. They emphasize the need to think consciously about one's strategies, and also acknowledge the destructive cycle that can be associated with any work style if it's not what someone wants: loss of control, leads to frustration, burnout, resentment.

CEO of Me includes tips for making any work style work better. I love the fact that it's presented in a broad, gender-neutral way. It's not just for women, or Moms, or even just people with families. The benefits of flexible work (and the tradeoffs, which are honestly examined) can potentially be extended to a wide variety of workers.

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