I was being interviewed this week by a business magazine when the writer asked me “Why do you talk about being purposeful in your business and personal life. Aren’t they different?”
In my view, no.
And that’s not simply a concession to the erosion of the boundary between business and personal time. It’s about integrity. Even more so, it’s about learning how to be authentic.
Back when woodworking was my active hobby, I loved to hand-cut dovetails for some of my joinery when making cabinetry. There is a certain aesthetic appeal to this centuries-old technique, but more so, the geometry of the joint is naturally strong. You can glue, screw and nail two pieces of wood together, but under stress, they rarely endure. A properly executed dovetail joint draws the two pieces of wood together in a symmetry that forms a natural bond — incredibly resilient and durable.
The joint now shares a common purpose. It is functional. It does not fight itself.
It has integrity.
I do ascribe to the tenet of truly “getting away” from work to relish the reflection and escape of personal time. That’s not the point here. It’s whether we are a different person in our work from what we are in our personal life. It is also about whether we appreciate the connective fibers between our commercial self and the one in the mirror in the morning.
The risk we face when we separate the two (or create artificial adhesives to hold them together) is that we can slip into posing or taking on practiced behaviors in the business world that eventually distort or combat our sense of self. Eventually, resentment of one or the other will set it.
Even more, I believe people can sniff out contrivance; anything that lacks authenticity drives a wedge in their willingness to trust and follow you.
Real growth comes when we understand we bring the whole person to work and the whole person comes home. The more integrity we have between the two, the stronger we are.