Enjoying Work & Life: Stop and Smell the Azaleas

Brantley collageToday’s guest blog post is written by our board member, Andy Brantley.  Andy is President and CEO of CUPA-HR.

When was the last time you were involved in an event or activity that caused you to look around and think, “I am so fortunate to be here?” To be honest, I never really thought about this very much until recently.

A few “I am so fortunate to be here” moments for me during the last several months:

  • Getting to hike in and out of the Grand Canyon with one of my sons;
  • Hiking in Zion National Park (and experiencing one of the most beautiful views I have ever seen);
  • Seeing hundreds of wild azaleas in bloom during a hike to Gregory’s Bald in the Smoky Mountains;
  • Running along the shore of a local lake as the morning fog lifted;
  • Spending time with friends and family on my screened porch;
  • Successfully finishing an intense P90X plyometrics workout without feeling like I was going to throw up;
  • Celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the move of the CUPA-HR national office from DC to Knoxville;
  • Participating in this year’s Association Leadership Program with CUPA-HR’s national, regional and chapter leaders from across the country;
  • Seeing CUPA-HR’s new learning framework “come to life” through the programming for the upcoming annual conference in Las Vegas;
  • Having a friend and colleague tell me how much CUPA-HR has impacted her personally and professionally.

I could list a few more examples, but the point for me is that I am trying to do a better job of enjoying and embracing important moments at and away from work. The event or activity does not have to be as “grand” as hiking the Grand Canyon. The point is that we stop the speeding train that is our life long enough to acknowledge and enjoy the ride!

We HR types have talked about work/life balance for years, but for me it’s not as much work/life balance as it is a commitment to enjoying the things I do at and away from work. Not every portion of my work role is enjoyable (being stuck in an airport for hours) and not every part of my life away from work is enjoyable (my house is always clean, but I hate housecleaning). But I can tell you that I approach every day with a “my cup is AT LEAST half full” attitude and that I continue my quest for those “I am so fortunate to be here” moments. I challenge you to come up with your own list of “I am so fortunate to be here” moments from the last few months and to commit to continuing to seek more of these moments every single day.



4 thoughts on “Enjoying Work & Life: Stop and Smell the Azaleas

  1. Andy, it made so much sense for you to post such an inspiring blog during National Work and Family Month. http://www.awlp.org/awlp/nwfm. So often we miss the little things that make life and work special. In honor of this month, we sent an internal posting to make sure to take advantage of their time with family and friends.

    While you moved to Knoxville, CHAP remains here in DC and we let our folks know that this month was established to highlight work and family balance and to support this healthy exchange between both. We encouraged our folks to take their PTO or weekends – so often left untouched in today’s hustle-and-bustle – and to use their time with your family and friends.

    Since Autumn is here, we suggest taking advantage of the crisp weather and beautiful foliage.
    • Apple picking or visiting a pumpkin patch
    • Walking a haunted trail
    • A day trip to a local winery
    • Or attend some of the local festivals in the area

    I agree with you wholeheartedly – and have taken advantage of this time with my kids, camping, fishing, and attending a couple of festivals here in DC. We as HR folks need to set the example for our leadership and our employee base.

  2. What jumped out at me from this post was the clear sense that, as managers and executives, we need to do a better job of encouraging those who work for us to find time for balance in their lives.

    People do better work when they have a good work-life balance, and have the opportunity to get out and engage in other activities that recharge and refresh them. Yet, how many managers and workplaces are there out there that seem to do the opposite — fuel a work-until-you-drop, get-it-done-at-all-costs mentality instead?

    Great managers have a great feel for people, and one of the keys is encouraging people to do things that replenish them and round out their lives.

    Andy’s post should remind all of us about this, because there are far too many managers out there who are deaf, dumb, and blind when it comes to managing people as real, honest-to-God human beings.

    It’s another version of the Golden Rule. We should manage our people the way we would like to be managed, and encouraging them to stop and have a real life outside the office is as important, if not more so, than any other coaching or management activity you will ever undertake.

  3. Having spent many years in HR in the corporate, government and non-profit world and now leading the largest girl-serving non-profit organization in Massachusetts, I have come to the firm believe that employers have a responsibility to provide a good quality of life for our employees. That responsibility goes beyond a paycheck, extending to flexibility for parents to attend a school play, care for a sick child or an ailing parent. It also means ‘dads’ should be able to take paternity leave without feeling guilt. When I raised three girls as a single mom, it was so much of a challenge that I made ‘work-family’ balance the theme of my graduate thesis and founded an organization for women who were trying to get off the welfare rolls and back to work. Successful organizations are made up of satisfied, dedicated people. Helping employees manage their total bucket of responsibilities pays off in less turnover, less absenteeism and a committed workforce.

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