THERE are ways for people to achieve professional success without always having to sacrifice the things that matter in their personal lives. These five people are successful at their work not despite having full lives outside of it, but precisely because they do:
1. Tom Tierney is the cofounder of Bridgespan, the best-known advisory firm for nonprofits. Throughout his career, he has sought creative ways of fitting the different domains of his life together, including learning from his children about what really matters. He has built organisations that encourage personal growth by rewarding results — not “face time” — and by motivating people with a vision of contributing to a greater good.
2. Sheryl Sandberg, as chief operating officer of Facebook, has been redefining what it means to be a leader. Her candour about the challenges she faces in resolving conflicts among different parts of her life — as an executive, a catalyst for social change, a friend, a wife, a sister and a mother — and about the nontraditional means she employs for doing so, has made her a persuasive role model and an outspoken voice on women and leadership.
3. Eric Greitens, humanitarian, author and nonprofit founder, attended Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and completed his doctorate before becoming a Navy SEAL. For his service in Iraq he was awarded a Purple Heart and went on — after a difficult search for a meaningful next step to take in his life — to found The Mission Continues, an organisation that helps heal wounded war veterans by guiding them to be of service in their communities.
4. Michelle Obama, the first lady of the US, explains that she considers her daughters to be her first priority, even if this stance rankles those who would have her do more in seeking broader political and cultural change. In making sure her own children were receiving the most nutritious food possible, she began to advocate for better nutrition through the national initiative Let’s Move! Her policies have won national acclaim.
5. Bruce Springsteen has said that he creates music “to make people happy, feel less lonely, but also (to be) a conduit for a dialogue about the events of the day, the issues that impact people’s lives, personal and social and political and religious”.
With his hard-won clarity of purpose, derived from years of painful self-scrutiny, it follows naturally that he makes clear what he expects from the people around him, whether they’re members of his band or members of his family.
• Adapted from What Successful Work and Life Integration Looks Like at HBR.org
© 2014 Harvard Business School Publishing Corp