One thing I have always struggled with is finding work-life balance. At the inevitable nexus of a full business life and a full personal family life, my hope is that the conditionality so often driven into us in the business world doesn’t creep into my relationships with friends and family.

For all of us in business, it is an unfortunate – if given – cultural challenge that most business models use conditional performance tests as the norm. In my own career, spanning the last 30 years, everything (yes, everything!) has been conditional. Performance, pay, bonuses––in business, everything you do for the major part of your day is conditional. I can’t even think of anything in the business world that is unconditional. This started me thinking about the word unconditional.

Did you know the prefix “un” is the most utilized prefix in the English language? It means reversal. It’s one of the most important words, in my opinion. I also was thinking about it as the prefix of many of the new business models “UNlocking” value, “UNbundling industries” and because of so many legacy industries with legacy assets, they totally need the “un.” They need the reversal of many of the practices and old business models.

un:  do the opposite of :  reverse (a specified action) :de- 1a, dis- 1a —in verbs formed from verbs unbend, undress, unfold

I also thought awareness is always the first step to solving a problem, so consider this blog a gut check: Are you bringing your conditional work culture home to your family and friends? If the answer is, “I might be,” then start paying attention! In all your interfaces with friends and family members, ask if you are acting conditionally, even in the slightest way. You might need to set up a “Conditional Filter.” If you are looking for work-life balance, you need to embrace the “un,” you need to learn to be more unconditional.

Improve your work-life balance by asking these 3 questions:

  1. Does being unconditional come naturally to you or do you have to work at it?
  2. As you take a personal audit of friends and family, how much of your actions, gifts and love is conditional?
  3. How do you personally transition daily from the CEO or boss at work to the unconditional loving family member at home?

While thinking about the word unconditional, I realized it is an aspirational word for me. I’ve asked myself, “How can that be?” Why would such a basic premise as acting like a loving human being like feel aspirational? It just didn’t sit right. So I set this blog aside for a few days and lo and behold a family member just yesterday called me out and said I was placing to many conditions on a particular subject. They actually where pretty graphic about it, and it shook me, made me dig deeper. I pride myself on being balanced, fair and trustworthy. How could I appear negatively conditional? “Not me,” I defensively said to myself!

I have to say, on reflection I have been much more successful managing the business side of things. That’s my comfort zone. Over the years my life has been built more on the conditional side and not the side of being unconditional. So I have to consciously work (be aspirational) on being a person who is unconditional with friends and family and hopefully even with my close business associates, The operative word here is “work” because it can be tough sometimes not judging the actions of friends, siblings and children, and choosing instead to be an unconditionally loving person.

There is another component of being unconditionally supportive and that is, if you really think about it being “unconditional” really says, “I trust you.” This idea builds on the topic of trust I wrote about last week. If you are conditional, it is really saying, “I don’t trust you.” If trust truly is the lubricant we all need for a happy and productive life, then being conditional really doesn’t work, which as I said above, I was recently reminded of and it is what compelled me to write this blog. But I notice when I pay attention to this one magical word and work at making everything about my friends and family unconditional, it just feels better. It empowers them and makes everyone feel trusted.

Your personal challenge today is to start undoing one by one any and all of the conditionality you may have placed on those you care about. This one act could improve your work-life balance greatly. If you find yourself acting conditionally, make a change right then and act unconditionally. Yep! Be entirely unconditional. Watch the response of your family members and pay attention to how it feels for you, too.

Thanks for helping me explore this conditional/trust issue through writing this blog. For me, “unconditional” has to be the way we live and work in the future. Dreaming about an unconditional world in all aspects of our life and work feels good, and I am going to start today filtering my actions as conditional or unconditional. Hope you do, too.

Onward and upward––