The Great Escape and The Renewal: Work-Life Integration

The Great Cognitive Escape
Silhouette and Reflection | The Arabian Sea | India

One of the greatest gifts of the ocean is her ability to embrace you in her vastness. She helps you replenish your reserves of energy and return. Nourished, healed, and whole again. The seaside has often been my sacred space for renewing my vows with leadership experiments. These experiments bring me hope, wisdom, and learning. My recent vacation was a reminder of just that through work-life integration.

When I work and collaborate across time zones with my Cisco family, it is exhilarating and enriching. It gives me the energy to thrive and flourish at what I do best. I work with leaders who truly care about the value I bring to the team. They are generous and transparent with their feedback and expectations. But make no mistake. It takes real work and real investment of energies to bring my best to everything I do. As I set out on my short get-away, I aimed to be intentional about integrating the different parts of my life, more than ever before. As a passionate endorser of Stew Friedman’s construct of Total Leadership, my experiment was to continually accomplish Four-Way-Wins across the 4 dimensions of my life: Work, Home, Community, and Inner Self. Here’s a short summary of the experiment, outcome, and my learning!

Goa_Spa_Salon.jpgWhat was the experiment? My experiment was was to Rejuvenate and Restore. I wished to create time-windows (especially in the evenings) to feed my hunger to do the many things I love and bring me energy. Stew defines this particular experiment as “…attending to body, mind, and spirit so that the tasks of living and working are undertaken with renewed power, focus, and commitment….”

What happened? For 4 consecutive days, I walked on the beach, savoring the sunset, practicing my photography, and soaking in the sights and smells of the Arabian Sea. Away from my laptop and in the quiet space of twilight colors, my evenings turned magical. I basked in the glory of the early morning sun and cherished the lush, green landscape that greeted me everywhere I walked. I discovered sea urchins and marveled at the gorgeous, sand castles built by my little friend. Watching her squeal in delight, every time the waves danced at her feet was beyond precious. I lived in a timeless zone, followed the sun, and stayed away from WiFi for most of the day.

Food for the Soul | Arabian Sea | iPhone 6+

My LearningVacations don’t last forever but rituals can and do. One of the rituals I re-committed to during this get-away was to be intentional about “preserving and enhancing the greatest asset I have” – the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual areas of my life through music, photography, writing, and through serving those I lead and protect.

There’s nothing spectacularly innovative about the intent itself. The need to dis-connect just to be able to re-connect in a new way, is not new at all. What is new and fun is the many paths to explore this fully. Over the next 15 days, I will examine my score-card and consider these questions: What actually happened? What were the results? What did I learn? I will also explore: How will my score card look 30-60-90 days from now? How does this compare with what I had done 6-months ago? Are there trends and patterns? What do I want to do with that data? How does this inform me of newer paths? etc. If you’re eager to learn more, here are the Performance Tools from Total Leadership that I highly recommend for your personal, leadership experiments!

So as I return to the tasks of living and working with renewed power, focus, and commitment, my mantra continues to be those 2 magical words: Continuous Improvement or as the Japanese famously called it: Kaizen.

Featured Image: @hitsujisama

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on February 1st, 2017 and has since been updated. 

BW Anitha Aswth PortfolioAnitha Aswath is an HR Consultant and Strengths Coach of Leader Success in the Leadership and Team Intelligence Practice Area at Cisco. She has the unique privilege of meeting Cisco clients from all over the world to serve, teach, and enable the success of their teams. 


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