BL&T No. 150: 150 Weeks of Connecting Dots

Personal Growth

This post originally appeared in my newsletter, Borrowed, Learned, & Thought. BL&T is sent weekly on Mondays. In every edition, I share lessons learned in agency leadership, life, and e-commerce. This post does not include all the details shared in the newsletter sent via email. Subscribe here.

Borrowed, Learned, & Thought

Today marks 150 weeks of writing this newsletter.

I remember laboring over the newsletter's name, structure, and design before even beginning to write the first edition. I was trying to get everything "right" without defining what right looked like. The truth is I had no idea.

What I did know was dedicating time each week to write and reflect could lead to valuable lessons and fresh ideas. Author Austin Kleon describes this journey best in his book, "Show Your Work!"

"The best way to get started on the path to sharing your work is to think about what you want to learn, and make a commitment to learning it in front of others."

The last three years have taught me so much, but above all, how much we can learn by recognizing the interconnectedness of every aspect of our lives. A few weeks ago, a subscriber replied to my newsletter to share their perspective. They ended with a note that reaffirmed this lesson for me:

"I really enjoy reading how you integrate everyday, personal experiences into each issue. Kudos for acknowledging that as people, we are more than just our 'career-selves'."

At times, I've hesitated to share my personal experiences, whether it was deciding to move to my hometown, welcoming my baby niece Sofia to the world, or competing in Strongman. There was always a piece of me that thought, who cares?

But I hit 'Send' anyway, figuring I have nothing to lose but subscribers. And often, I was surprised to see a message from someone with whom my story resonated. Sometimes, it's a colleague I met years ago. Other times, it's an older family member who has never shared lessons from their career before. Messages like this have been encouraging but also underscored what the subscriber put so eloquently in their message — "we are more than just our 'career-selves.'"

I remember putting in extra time at work when I started my career, feeling the pressure of "work/life balance," mostly via whispers from co-workers. Sure, I didn't always enjoy putting in late nights, but it often felt necessary to continue learning, experimenting, and improving. Over time, as I learned better time management and got better at my craft, I found a better 'balance.' And yet, even today, some situations call for that extra time, whether it's a deadline for a proposal OR a home project gone wrong. It's a part of life.

In this way, I find that 'work/life balance' creates an unnecessary dichotomy between areas of our life that are undoubtedly connected. It encourages us to waste effort trying to find 'balance' and compartmentalizing experiences rather than seeking harmony and learning from their connections. When we break down these walls, we're more encouraged to get to know our clients and co-workers, understanding them on a deeper level. What pressures are they dealing with? What do they find inspiring? What does said project mean for their careers?

Let's face it — we make major life decisions because of our careers. We make major career decisions because of our lives. We want to feel good showing up to work each day because that's where many of us spend the majority of our days. It's silly to think the experiences with the people who know us best (our family) and the people we spend most of our days with (our colleagues) can't teach us a thing or two about being a better all-around collaborator, manager, partner, friend, spouse, brother, sister, and so on.

Through writing this newsletter, I've not only become more aware of the intersections between my life and work but it's also given me the time to contemplate how they influence one another. Leadership books have improved my role as a partner to my wife and role at work, personal habit changes inspired positive shifts in our company culture, travels ignited ideas in client collaboration, home improvement challenges led to developments in our sales process, among many others.

And with all of that, another milestone is right around the corner. In about a month, my wife Dana and I are expecting a baby boy (our first). I've already gained so much from watching family, friends, and colleagues become parents, I can only imagine what taking this ride on my own will teach me, and I look forward to learning.

I am immensely grateful to Dana for being supportive when I need to carve out time to write each week, and to all of you, for following along and sharing ideas. Thank you.

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