The Question Matters

Are You Willing to Work So That You Can Work to Live?


Texas Rangers (baseball)

It's Time.


I am the master of my schedule.  If an opportunity to spend some extra time with my family comes up, I will often take it.  If the Texas Rangers are playing (hopefully for a while longer) I’ll cut off work a little early to make sure I can catch the game on TV.  If I’m behind on paperwork at home, no big deal.  I’ll just get that done before I start with my work for the day.  Need a long lunch?  OK, I’m not on the clock.  I’ll take an extra 15 minutes and watch a favorite show on DVR.

My work is too often the master of my time.  If the iPhone is in my pocket, I’m always tempted to pick it up even at family activities.  If I’m watching that Texas Rangers game, it may be with my MacBook in my lap dong a little busy work that didn’t get done.  Did I take a longer lunch?  That probably means I’ll close up shop at 10 that night instead of 9:30.

The notion that we can work to live, not live to work is monumental mental shift.  It may be the biggest shift in workforce dynamics since the labor unions a century ago.  In that time, workers stood up for their rights to a decent wage, vacation time, respect in the workplace, and legal force they did not have alone.  Today, workers are standing up for their rights to choose the times they’ll work, how they do that work, and where they do that work.

James Townsend:

For those of us in Generation X and those in the Baby Boomer generation, we’ve been known to say we “live to work” and often connect our self-identification with our job/occupation.  For those in the Millennial generation, they “work to live” and value time with friends, family over time spent at work.  This generation is more likely to tell their boss when they plan to come to work and when they plan to leave, as there are important things to do outside of work – yoga, exercise, movies, etc…Balancing work and life is vitally important to this generation but not as much for the current generation of office managers and organizational leaders.  The challenge for the Millennial employee is understanding and respecting the structure of the organization

I want that balance in my work life, too.  As a business coach with a passion for younger entrepreneurs, I want them to achieve that balance.  And it must be achieved. It won’t happen by brute force or unreasonable demands.  If the under-30 workforce wants work/life balance, it will have to be earned, either by the slow but steady change of large organizations or by the re-invention of the workplace on your own terms, in your own business.

Either way will require a lot of work.


Coaching Millennials to Fail

Posted in Entrepreneurs,Generation Y,Leadership,Next Generation Leaders by treyfinley1008 on August 17, 2010
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Sounds counterintuitive doesn’t it?  A coach’s job is to point his/her client towards success.  A coach should be the one behind the curtain quietly allowing the client to take center stage in his/her own progress and accomplishments.  I’m suggesting a somewhat different strategy when coaching those under 30, one with long-term successes in mind.  Coaching to failure is not a proverbial “stick your leg out to trip someone” gag.  Coaching the largest generation in the history of the world is no laughing matter; it’s serious business.  I propose that the sooner a member of this generation learns what it feels like to fail, the sooner he/she will begin learning from that failure.

What better environment is there to examine failure than coaching?  Coaching is a pure-oxygen environment for breathing growth and transformation into an individual.  If an under-30 client doesn’t fail while coaching with me, I will not have done enough to coach him or her.   My client will not have learned enough.  My client will leave with a less valuable coaching experience.

My premise is simple: I believe controlled failure in a safe environment will produce an “immune” response that better prepares next generation leaders for what lies ahead.  Like dead diseases pumped into someone’s blood, controlled failure can provide a certain amount of inoculation against the fear of failure and its potential consequences.  This controlled “failure” can’t be contrived.  Coaching to fail means that the failure (1) is possible and measurable, (2) has real and potentially painful consequences, and (4) provides opportunities for multiple attempts at success.

Put another way, I’d rather my next-generation coaching client get “sick” of failure now than to “die” of failure in the future.   Over the next few days, I’ll be writing about some of the diseases our next generation faces, and the antibodies coaching must produce in order for them to  lead all of us into the next chapter of life, work, and faith.  Those who intend to lead must learn to:

  • Fight unfounded optimism with story-telling
  • Fight risk-averse behavior with opportunities for creative thinking
  • Fight inattention with critical thinking skills
  • Fight shelter-seeking behavior with “exposure” to the elements
  • Fight institutional skepticism with entrepreneurial experiments

You can probably think of other “diseases” to which those under 30 are prone.  I’d like to hear them, with one condition: you’ve got to suggest an immunization.

Changes with Every Generation

Posted in Change,Generation Y,Leadership by treyfinley1008 on August 10, 2010
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The debate about the uniqueness of each generation will always be lively, in part because the points of debate say at least as much about the person making the argument as they do about the generation for which they stand.  Dynamics between generations are more complex that simply the date on which I was born and the broad trends evident in people born roughly the same time as me.  I prefer to think of generational change as resting more in a gradual shift rather than a sudden change in course.

I’ve been reading Tim Elmore lately, and following his tweets (@TimElmore).  He’s the founder and president of Growing Leaders, a NFP created to develop emerging leaders, especially those in the latter half of Generation Y, born 1990 or later.  His focus on the latter half of Generation Y resonates with my take on generational dynamics.  Rather than speaking for a 20-25 year window of people, he’s narrowed his focus to a ten-year window.

He posted this yesterday.  Occasionally, the observation is made that every generation has issues with previous generations, and that today’s newcomers to the workforce and to culture are simply experiencing the same growing pains.  Tim gives a qualified “yes,” listing these trends that make each generation’s changes a little different. I recommend reading his entire article, entitled Changes with Every Generation.

Which of these trends are you sensing the most?

1. With each new generation, time becomes more valuable.

2. With each new generation, expectations of convenience and service rise.

3. With each new generation, the demand for work to have meaning intensifies.

4. With each new generation, the hunger for options grows.

5. With each new generation, the sense of entitlement increases.

6. With each new generation, the need for speed and space goes up.

7. With each new generation, the desire for customization expands.

Dan Pink on Motivation

I came across this video on a blog feed early this week.  Dan’s focus is on the problems of a purely “carrot and stick” style of motivation and performance enhancement.  Science simply doesn’t bear that out. In fact, he says, the 21st century workplace has a lot to do with this misunderstanding. The digital age has automated and outsourced many of the simpler tasks of our workplace. Innovative companies desiring to keep pace with the speed of change must maximize creativity. Autonomy, mastery, and purpose are far greater motivators.

In my opinion, these three are key elements for a Gen X and Gen Y workplace.  Here’s the video.  (If you’ve got $60 I can “borrow” for the video upgrade on WordPress, let me know.)

(If you’re in a hurry, watch from 3:00 to about 7:45. If you’ve got a few minutes, watch the 18 minute video.)

Who’s at Bat

Posted in Change,Generation X,Generation Y,Leadership,Video by treyfinley1008 on April 26, 2010
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I Don’t Care (he’s the shortstop) what generation you’re born into, this is funny.

Dave McCleary’s first comment to me about leaders who are planning a transition was this:  “Make your first choice your last – when announcing your successor – do so powerfully, with full commitment and with finality – the work of transition is too valuable to waste on hopefuls.”

Can you describe the next leader in your business/church/NFP?  What does he/she do well?  What skills must be present in order for that person and your organization to continue succeeding?

Don’t leave any doubts about Who’s up next to bat.

On the Work-Life Balance

Hoss & Brown Engineering Firm proves work flexibility is win-win | jenX67 | are you there God? it’s me, generation x.

A terrific point article on the viability of a flexible schedule for even the most complicated of careers, and the willingness of workers in Generation X and Generation Y to choose what other generations would consider “lesser” work in order to maintain balance between work and life.

Thanks to my friend Jen in Oklahoma City who consistently finds relevant articles for Generation X.

It’s Complicated

First, a disclaimer: I never ever saw It’s Complicated.  Probably won’t.  The trailers give the impression that the movie sensationalizes divorce, and I just can’t get excited about dropping $4 at the movie store to see it.  I’d rather rent Sherlock Holmes again.

Anyway, on to coaching. It’s Complicated is a response I’m beginning to hear more and more as I continue coaching.  (Maybe I could blog on phrases that should alert you when coaching is needed.  This is definitely one of them.)  Work is complicated. Life is complicated. My problem is complicated. As coaches, we’re taught to drill down almost immediately when we hear broad sweeping statements like this.  Questions such as, “If work were simple instead, what would be different” can begin chiseling away at the surface complications and get down to the deeper language that’s making life seem…complicated.

Let’s not belittle complexity, though.  It’s a complex world.  Your generation lives among four othersThe World is Flat, says Thomas Friedman.  He’s right.  Generation X knows complexity: empty homes after school, high divorce rates, workplace ceilings.  Gen Y knows complexity through social media, the 24-hour news cycle, and broad exposure to culture, ideas, and religion.  It is an increasingly complex world.

Simplistic answers from one person will not suffice in our complex world.  Complexity demands a sophisticated response.  Sophisticated responses require multiple voices.  Having multiple voices in the room makes trust a non-negotiable.  What are you doing to engender trust among colleagues?  Who must you learn to trust in order to wade through your complicated life?

Funny Gen X cartoon

Posted in Family,Fun,Generation X,Generation Y by treyfinley1008 on March 31, 2010
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The four generations in one very funny frame.  Thanks to the writer at for the picture.