From Fragmentation to Integration

Have you also at times (even now) felt that your life is fragmented and that you struggle to find the so called “balance” between so many good things? Everything contends for your time, and some even try to convince you that they should be at the center stage. I mean, there can be your work or business, family, community, sport and recreation, friends, self-development and studies. Then school and church might also call for attention. And if you dare to put Facebook, Instagram, Emails and WhatsApp in the mix (because people connections matter), it feels like a wild storm from Monday to Monday. Even teenagers struggle nowadays, going to bed later and later.

How many times have you heard: “You just cannot afford to miss this one” – whether it is a training event, a “lekker kuier”, TV program, movie, new potential client, the latest and greatest business book to read, an appointment at your children’s school, an event at work or your most important client wanting to see you, the school’s “very important meeting”, or whatever?

I recently read Brett Johnson’s book “Convergence”. Brett is the CEO of Repurpose Business. He argues that trying to balance everything is based on a fallacy and will just drive you crazy. We tend to get either so tired of the rat race, or so fed-up that we feel frustrated, drained, unfulfilled and exhausted. He draws 4 overlapping circles: Career, Community, Creativity and Calling. The idea is that you converge or integrate your life in the four spheres to overlap as much as possible.

How often have I tried to live in separate boxes, switching gears and attention between family and work, sport and family. My premise was that work is work, family is family etc. It never worked! It is far better to bring all I am into all my spheres of life.

So, how do we get to convergence or integration? The heart of this is for you get to know yourself and clarify what (or in whom) you believe, what your life values are, what (or who) you live and stand for, what your gifts and talents are, and what you want to be known for, what kind of life you want to build. So, in essence this is where we all should start:

  • Who am I? (Identity).
  • What am I here for? (Purpose).

I have noticed that when I know my identity and purpose, it is much easier to intentionally integrate my life, – e.g. that you build friendships while working, do your workout with friends or business colleagues, fulfill your calling (including your passion) while working, and make time to use your creativity in all three other circles.

I know all of this might sound very idealistic, but since I read the book (which is quite recently), I managed to be more assertive to say “no” when I should. And it is also easier to say “yes” to the right stuff (which often seem less urgent). I see myself becoming more focused, energised and more hopeful to make a real impact.

Our lives go through different seasons, good and testing times, times of intense learning and then times of being totally out of your depth, phenomenal growth and at times stagnation, promotion and demotion, successes and disappointments. That’s all okay and part of the journey, as long as you develop character, competence and confidence through those seasons and become the person you were meant to be.

We all need to take time to figure this out for ourselves – getting to the point where you can say: “this is the life that I want to live; this is who I am”. We will not get it right in one sitting, and maybe not in one year. It is probably a life journey.

Personally, my faith in God had always been a very strong integrating factor, although I got (and still get) it wrong so often. I don’t know what is at the core of your being, but may you define it and be sure it is worthwhile to live for. More and more business people are talking about mindfulness, reflection, meaning, being in the now. Somehow, since the church and religion moved to the periphery (sideline) of society’s life, there is a growing need for connection to something (or someone?) bigger and more important than “self”. And, somehow, leaders and organisations that know their purpose are far more motivated, happier and more successful.

May your life be one of meaning and fulfillment, integration and convergence – a life that might not always be easy, but definitely worthwhile!