The Greatness of Optimal: Ending the Work-Life Balance Myth

Can 2015 mark the year we end our Sisyphean work-life balance pursuit? It seems that we’ve been looking for this magical firewall between work and life for most of my working career, and we can’t seem to find it. 

So what’s up?

It’s a myth. During the halcyon days of the mid-80s, when work-life balance was first referenced, we didn’t have to contend with today’s ubiquitous connectivity.  With the innovation of email, smart phones, and social media, the line between work and life is blurred at best.  So let’s stop searching for the comprise of work life and personal life balance. Rather, let’s take action to maximize our fulfillment, happiness, and mindfulness in our one life.

Based on my experience as an executive, business leadership coach, and motivational speaker, the genesis of our work-life drama usually starts at work even as we carve out personal time for exercise, downtime, etc. As a result, if work is less than ideal, then it’s hard to live a full life. Here are 3 steps to gain more fulfillment at work.


Get clear on your values and take action that aligns with them.  Determine what gets you jazzed and ensure that your daily choices align to your values.


What gives you that “I got this and here’s how” confidence? It’s your inner greatness.  You know it.  It’s led to your success.  However, we also have moments when that inner critic steps in, plants doubt, and stirs up fear.  An optimal life isn’t possible when we listen to that inner critic. It sucks the potential out of us.  Learn how to lead with your inner greatness.

Calendar Choices

Own your time! Stop sacrificing your joy and success by settling for ineffective meetings.  You get to choose how you meet and connect with your co-workers.

Here are some easy steps to get more out of your meetings:

  1.  Start and end on time
  2. Shorten your meetings by at least 15 minutes. Get focused and use your extra time for planning, reflecting, or biology
  3. Stop multitasking
  4. Set up more “Walk and Talk” meetings
  5. Accept/send meeting requests with a set agenda and objectives
  6. Decline meetings without a clear purpose
  7. Increase the laughter factor
  8. Agree on clear action steps and ownership

Living these A, B, Cs can help you gain more happiness at work.  Make 2015 the year you trade the compromise of balance for the greatness of optimal. To learn more contact me at

In his coaching practice, Peloton Coaching & Consulting, Michael O'Brien partners with today's business leaders to help them move from functional performance to optimal performance. His aim is to change lives by enhancing leadership energy, engagement, and fulfillment, and demonstrating how these qualities can cascade throughout organizations. To Learn more about Michael and Peloton Coaching & Consulting, visit


Is The Grass Always Greener?

You take a look at your overgrown lawn where weeds have popped up everywhere, a homesteading gopher has staked his claim, the sun has turned it several shades of brown and you realize it’s not the lawn you wanted.  What you wanted was well-manicured, beautiful, fertile, and green.

With a deep, disappointed sigh, you turn around and see your neighbor’s lawn.  Your eyes widen in wonder as the oasis you dreamed of is a few feet away, only separated by a wood fence.  “That’s what I want, that’s what I should have” you think to yourself.  Then a bitter taste settles in your mouth and you think “Why does he get to have that lawn and I don’t?”  You stand and look at the lawn for a while and thoughts of discontent continue to run through your head.  Barraged by question after question of “why’s” until that bitter taste in your mouth becomes so strong, that when you take a simple, needed breath, it overpowers your whole being.  Jealousy has discovered a new friend and it now has a firm grip on you.

In the beginning of my career, I was working for a company and had made several acquaintances there.  We would go out for the occasional dinner together and discuss work or what we were going to do for the weekend, or what we had done the previous weekend.  One woman always spoke about all the fun, exciting things she and her husband would do over the weekend.  They would go wine tasting or go on some weekend getaway.  She always made it sound fun and romantic.

If you walked into her office, she always had flowers from him and her office was decorated with photos of herself and her husband, always smiling and always holding each other tightly.  As far as I knew, every single woman in the office was envious of her.  I vividly recall every other woman in the office at some point, expressing their envy of her. I don’t remember feeling jealous, nor did I want to take it from her, and I certainly didn’t want her to not have it. I'm not the type of person to ask “Why her and not me?” I do remember wishing that I had the same thing.  A happy, wonderful, close relationship with a wonderful partner.  Well, who wouldn’t want that, a beautiful relationship of true love and happiness with someone is what most of us want in our life.

One day, we had all gone out as a group again, we were sitting around the table, eating, laughing and talking.  The woman sat there and though she smiled, she didn’t say very much.  It was so out of character for her as she was always nice, friendly, and smiling.  After a nice dinner, we all said our goodbyes and walked to our cars.  As I was unlocking my car door, I heard my name and when I turned around, she was standing in front of me, her eyes welling up with tears. I asked her if she was okay and she responded a simple “yes.” We stood in silence for a brief, awkward moment.  Tears began to stream down her face and she asked me if I could talk for a moment and I responded “Of course, are you okay?”  It always seems a senseless question when someone is crying or emotional, but it's the easiest way to get the conversation started.

She began to tell me that her husband had been cheating on her.   I was completely shocked! I think my jaw dropped open and I couldn’t tell if I had closed it quickly enough.  She continued on about how unhappy she was and how she didn’t know what to do or where to turn.  I tried to absorb and understand not only what she was saying at that moment, but everything she had said previously.  I remembered the happy photos and the vacations.  It all seemed so wonderful.  How was what I was hearing now a part of everything I’d heard previous?  I finally heard myself speak “But, you seem so happy, he sends you flowers and always dotes on you when we have office parties, and...”  She interrupted me before I could continue and told me that he does those things because he is always cheating and they were all gifts of apology.

She continued on, telling me that after every apology, he continued to cheat.  I felt painfully sad for her.  I so much believed they had the perfect relationship.  I tried to console her by telling her she had choices, and they were for her to make, based on what she wanted.  She sincerely believed that she didn’t have choices, because she was a big part of the façade.  She didn’t want people to see what was really happening for fear of what they would think of her.  I continued to try and reassure her about her choices, letting her know that she did have them.

I don’t know why she chose me to unburden her pain to, but it is what I do.

You see when I looked at their relationship from the other side of the fence, I saw something that I wanted.  That green, well-manicured, beautiful, fertile lawn.  I didn’t know what was really happening that made the lawn appear that way.  I didn’t know the pain and hardship one person was enduring to create that appearance.  However, once I was on that side of the fence, seeing the long hours of sweat and exhaustion, the large amount of fertilizer, the complex water system, and the expensive tools they used to create the appearance, it didn’t seem as green and beautiful.

The grass isn’t always greener.  Jealousy of someone else’s lawn is a waste of thought, energy, and desire because we don’t really know what’s behind the lawn. We don’t always know how the grass got the way it did.

What we can do is manicure our own lawn, so it is the way we want it to look, where we want to live, where we want to rest and be safe, and where we want to love. We can fertilize it with hard work, understanding, mutual respect, honest and pure intentions filled with love.  We can water it with compassion, patience, caring, and open communication so it continues to be bright and beautiful.  All of our lawns take work.  The work that you want to put in is the work that will ensure your happiness and your continued want of living there.

Peace and Love to the Universe!!!

Monica Ortiz is a successful Life Coach, Author, and Speaker whose award-winning work has touched thousands of lives over her 20-year career. Her debut book in 2013 received over 100 five-star reviews and critical acclaim, and has led to speaking invitations at leading institutions such as Stanford University on topics ranging from Success in Your Career and Relationships to Shifting Your Energy to Shape Your Reality. She is founder of The Universe Series, a professional organization bringing the tools she teaches to millions of people around the globe. To learn more, visit