Your New Ideal

If you are reading this, you are a lot of things. You are an involved parent, a talented and experienced professional, but you are not the “ideal worker.” That's the guy who doesn't take family leave, doesn't need to worry about coverage on a sick day, and is devoted to the workplace at the expense of his family and his own well-being. Since fewer and fewer of us work on an assembly line, you would think this idea is totally outdated. For some of us it's so ingrained, that we have trouble escaping it.

As parents, we often either pretend not to have kids to keep our jobs, or give up on our career aspirations in part or altogether, as recent PEW research on SAHMs indicates. 
 
But, what if it could be liberating? What if breaking from the ideal worker norm could allow us to recognize what we do best and help us be more productive?
 
When I ask my clients what makes them good at their jobs, the first answer is almost always:  "I am willing to go above and beyond. I give 150%.” Then I push them for another answer. Your value is not only about the time you spend working, it's about the results you produce.  Research shows you will excel as a leader if you can influence and connect with colleagues, and be able to clearly and consistently convey your value added. Articulating what you offer beyond hours is critical for your success as an engaged working parent.  
 
On top of that, all that extra time working doesn't always help us do ideal work. Author Brigid Schulte does a great job laying out the research on this in her new book,Overwhelmed. She references this study that shows that workers who were "on" all the time, didn’t learn as much, communicate as effectively, work as efficiently or as productively as their colleagues who drew boundaries around their time. 

The next time you are prepare for a performance review or ask for flexibility, think outside the ideal worker norm, and remember what makes you exceptional.

On my latest podcast, I talk to market researcher Liam Daley, about his experiences as a working dad of two trying to fit work and life together. We also discuss insights he has gathered from his extensive conversations with men and their perceptions of parenthood and work.