Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Work/Life Balance: The Example of Tim Russert

The untimely passing of Tim Russert, the anchor of “Meet the Press” and NBC Washington Bureau Chief, coupled with all the talk about the richness of his life got me to thinking ... what do we really mean when we talk about work/life balance?

Here was a man who spent an inordinate amount of time working at his job. More hours than most top executives. In a season of dramatic political events, he appeared to be everywhere, from early morning segments on the Today show, late night commentary on NBC and MSNBC and hosting two weekend shows, including the most influential news show of them all.

Plus, he spent many hours in preparation, including the “nuts & bolts” of investigative journalism, with his many famous “what do you know?” telephone calls. All this while simultaneously directing the activities of some of the best known names in news from his perch atop the NBC Washington Bureau.

Obviously a very busy man – but was his life in balance?

To answer that question – and to help all those execs struggling with the concept – we should define what is meant by work/life balance.

For me, the best definition addresses four key areas – work, family, friends and self, along with the two common goals everyone strives for – achievement and enjoyment. When you combine all those components, you come up with a pragmatic and doable definition of work/life balance:

“Achievement & enjoyment in the four life quadrants of work, family, friends and self”

There are no mandatory hours allocated for the quadrants and no equal time is implied. The only imperative is striving for achievement and enjoyment in each.

So, did Tim Russert, this hard-driving newsman who wore many hats and spent countless hours engaged in his work, attain work/life balance?

There is no doubt the answer is an emphatic “YES!”

His life is a testament to it. In addition to an admirable record of professional accomplishments, Russert was very close to his family; amassed hundreds of friends who recount story after story about the kindnesses he showed; allocated time to himself by hopping on the treadmill daily and going to his beloved Buffalo Bills games, and even expanded his work activities by penning two exceptional best sellers.

My opinion: A work/life balance model for any executive.


Anonymous said...

Finally a work life balance definition I can relate to. I was always skeptical of the notion because the time is never balanced. Achievement and enjoyment are eye openers. Thanks for a wonderful blog.

Anonymous said...

Good post.



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