Time Zones

Published: December 28, 2010

Often, workshop participants ask whether someone can exist at two times on the Team Clock at once. Recently, I found myself at 12:00 and 6:00 simultaneously.

December 15th. I had just finished clinching an exciting engagement with an innovative organization when my phone rang with tragic news of an unexpected loss. I was about to grab the same phone to share the news of my new opportunity when the incoming call beat me to the punch. In an instant, my business life was soaring and my family life was sinking.

The paradox is common. Things at home are great while things at work are unraveling. Work is challenging and stimulating while a parent, spouse, child or friend is struggling at home. Everyone shares a similar balancing act. You’d love to devote all of your energies in the segment of your life that brings the most satisfaction but reality demands the opposite. It’s the classic 80/20 rule: the majority of your time is consumed by the most intense minority.

Consider your last crisis. Although you’d like the world to stop spinning for a short time in order to collect thoughts, express feelings and manage priorities, life keeps pressing forward. However, if you’ve lived your life with appropriate investment in others, reciprocation comes to your aid in moments like this. Family, friends, neighbors and colleagues surround you from all sides to offer love, assistance, resources and support. Strangers become friends. Politics are shed in lieu of a greater calling. Your anchors maintain your stability while the environment threatens change. The change occurs and your resilience is called to duty. We adapt, we grow and, in the end, we’re better for it.

12:00 and 6:00. Attachment and loss. One doesn’t occur without the other. The greater the attachment, the greater the loss. The deeper the investment, the richer the reward. Acknowledging the inevitability of separation ignites unlimited permission for connection. We all make choices each day about the degree to which we engage with others and in the goals and aspirations we share. The extremes aren’t dichotomous, they are equal shares of the same choice.

Steve Ritter is the Founder & CEO of the Team Clock Institute and the Managing Director of the Midwest Institute & Center for Workplace Innovation. You can learn more about executive coaching opportunities at elmhurstcounseling.com/executive-coaching/

Photo of Steve Ritter, the co-founder of The Center for Team Excellence

Steve Ritter

Steve Ritter is an internationally recognized expert on team dynamics whose clients include Fortune 500 companies, professional sports teams, and many educational organizations. He is on the faculty of the Center for Professional Excellence at Elmhurst College where he earned the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Steve is the former Senior Vice President, Director of Human Resources at Leaders Bank, named the #1 Best Place to Work in Illinois in 2006 and winner of the American Psychological Association's Psychologically Healthy Workplace Award in 2010. Steve provides ongoing workplace culture consultation to many thriving companies including Kraft Foods, Advocate Health Care, Kellogg's, the Chicago White Sox, AthletiCo, and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network.