In the book We: How to Increase Performance and Profits Through Full Engagement, authors Rudy Karsan and Kevin Kruse discuss embracing a “work-life blend,” in contrast to the ever-sought-after “work-life balance.” Rather than striving to have equal time at work and at home, a healthy blend of having fun at work can be more rewarding personally and more engaging professionally. I have found this to be true: I feel more committed to my company and work when they are a source of true friendship and I feel a sense of loyalty.
The month of March was the quintessential example of a happy and healthy work-life blend for me. Three weekends in a row, I traveled out of town with co-workers for three very different but rewarding reasons, and I’d love to share a few highlights from each. I hope they encourage you to pursue a work-life blend as well.
Ragnar Relay Race, Luckenbach, Texas
Early on Friday, March 9 (as early as 4 a.m.), a group of 14 Credera employees embarked in two vans to drive down to San Marcos, Texas, for this year’s Reebok Ragnar Race. What is the Ragnar Race? Think Forrest Gump. It’s a 12-person relay, with one member of the team always running (including through the night), passing a slap-bracelet through the lineup of runners three times, sleeping a bit in the van when it’s not your turn to run, and all together racing 190 miles to the finish line. The Ragnar motto sums it up: “Run. Drive. Sleep? Repeat.”
We know we’re a bit crazy. (Or a lot crazy.) But what a worthwhile and rewarding experience it was. What I learned:
“To run fast, run alone; to run far, run together.”
We were doing both: Each runner was unhindered to run their fastest, but no one person could run 190 miles alone. We relied on each other through the unexpected wind—some runners had fewer headwinds and could make up for others’ slightly affected times. And when one runner stepped off the shoulder of the road in the dark and sprained her ankle, two teammates heroically split her final leg of the race. Then, the last four hours were hot and sunny, causing the final four runners to battle dehydration and exhaustion. But with water bottles and cold towels, the team members came alongside each other and provided support to the end. These conditions weren’t ideal, but they let the incredible character of each team member shine through. Coupling true encouragement with the competitive pressure to not let each other down, we proved that teams enable each other to run further and faster than ever possible alone.
2. We Have a Unique Bond, Which Leads to Greater Strength
After passing runner after runner and arriving in 28 hours and 3 minutes, we finished 9th out of 99 teams! (Our timing was over an hour and 20 minutes faster than the CrossFit teams, I might add.) I was surprised that not only did we do so well and win the corporate division, but there was also only one other corporate team. I don’t see that as weakening our statistic, however, but rather the opposite. My hypothesis: Very few businesses can find 12 co-workers who have a close enough relationship to spend 28 hours running and sleeping in a van together. We weren’t all peers, either; the Partner-In-Charge of my practice was passing the slap bracelet to me. Credera truly is a unique place where our foundation of core values allows us to bond on teams immediately and then draw out each other’s strengths and outpace the competition. I now have an even deeper appreciation for my company after this experience.
Ski Trip, Steamboat Springs, CO
The next Friday, a group of eight consultants (four of us who happened to also be on the Ragnar team) flew to Denver. It was a self-organized trip for fun, open to anyone to join, and I’m grateful for a company full of eager and adventurous colleagues who joined me. After working from our Denver office for our first time, we drove west to Steamboat Springs for three days of amazing spring skiing.
While this was more of a vacation, I still took away lessons about my company. What I learned:
1. Servant Leaders Backfill for Team Members
One co-worker, Carlos, was particularly overwhelmed when client issues arose a couple days before the trip. He prepared for the worst, expecting to have to sadly back out at the last minute, showing true dedication to his client. But many thanks to his project director, Rick, who stepped in to save the day. When Rick found out that Carlos was considering missing a non-refundable vacation, Rick immediately vetoed that possibility and ensured that he and his team would cover Carlos’ work instead. That is servant leadership. And that care for each other touched not only Carlos, but myself as a witness, too.
2. Our Mountain Metaphor Is Real
If you peruse our website, you’ll clearly see images and themes of climbing mountains. And while we sometimes joke about it being cliché, it truly is an appropriate metaphor for “solving our clients’ toughest challenges.” When one co-worker’s skis never came out of baggage claim and another’s flight was delayed two hours, we took what the wind blew at us, problem-solved our way to the mountaintops, and appreciated the beauty around us. Later, when we couldn’t see a few feet in front of us because we were skiing through clouds, we did what consultants do: bravely plunged forward through the fog until we could see again. Nature is inspiring to me, and this weekend in the mountains reminded me to approach my work in the same way.
Harvey Relief Service Day, Houston
Finally, just a few days later, I was blessed to travel with another team of co-workers: this time to Houston for Credera’s 2018 Service Days. We partnered with Rebuilding Together Houston (RTH), who repairs homes at no cost for low-income elderly homeowners, and were honored to work on Nestor’s home in the Kashmere Gardens neighborhood. All of the homes there had at least three feet of water, and Nestor had only been in his home for three years before the floods forced him to evacuate.
Similar to our 2017 Service Days with Habitat for Humanity, it was humbling to serve our community alongside my co-workers. What I learned:
1. Labor Outside the Office
As much as the Credera team works well together in the office, it’s just as meaningful to work together outside the office. I got to work with co-workers I’ve never worked with before and appreciate how we still live out our core values outside of the usual professional environment. Everyone did excellent work, not cutting corners but completing tasks with integrity and humbly building relationships with RTH and Nestor.
2. Long-Term Solutions Built Together
Hurricane Harvey hit Houston seven months ago, but the aftermath is still deeply affecting thousands of families. Just like we look for strategic solutions for our clients, serving in the community also ought to have a long-term focus. I’m thankful that Credera committed to partner with an organization who would stay past the immediate response groups. One of our teams also served a week prior to us, so we were building on the progress they started, accomplishing more with multiple teams over time. We’re here to help—for the long haul.
Embracing the Work-Life Blend
I’m sad that these weekends are now over, but I have grown in appreciation for Credera, the friendships formed, memories made, finish lines crossed, mountains climbed, people served, and lessons learned.
While a work-life balance is important, spending too much time away from work causes me to feel distant from my company and less engaged at work. On the other hand, these three weekends in March have blended my work life and personal life in the best way possible. The extracurricular activities with co-workers have taught me many lessons that I now treasure, and I can’t wait to plan the next ones.
Culture is something that is experienced in a variety of different ways. We’re sharing the many ways Crederians experience our culture in a series called My Credera. The heart behind this series is for our company, employees, clients, and friends to have an inside look at the Credera culture by reading about our employees’ “My Credera” moments. In this series, we are talking about our core values, personal and professional growth, mentorship, community involvement, favorite Credera memories, life after college, and what it looks like to create a career at Credera.
At Credera, we love to celebrate every achievement, milestone, and moments of growth. We are excited to open up and invite you in to experience those celebrations with us. If you’d like to learn more about joining the Credera family, we invite you to visit our careers page.