A well-rounded individual is able to balance and even integrate their personal, professional, and spiritual lives.  For the past seven years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to see work-life balance come together in a single project.

It all began in 1994 when my wife and I wanted to start a family.  We endured – maybe survived is a better word – infertility treatments twice, having a baby girl, and then having a baby boy.  A few years later we decided to pursue international adoption, having a Guatemalan boy placed in our family in March 2006, through Bethany Christian Services.  Finally, we were blessed with a surprise pregnancy in 2008!

Six months after we welcomed our Guatemalan son into our home, we started attending Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, MN.  We were quickly introduced to BridgeBuilders, a Wooddale short-term missions trip to Guatemala.  Coincidence?  I don’t believe so.

My oldest daughter and I went to Guatemala with BridgeBuilders in February 2009, providing me the opportunity to visit 10 different schools.  These rural schools had few textbooks, limited resources for teachers, and high dropout rates, all resulting in high rates of illiteracy and generational poverty.

It was shortly after this first trip that God gave me a vision for introducing computer technology into these schools.  As a technology company that focuses on solutions that provide current and relevant information to people who need it, computers for these schools was right up our alley.

Our Guatemalan partners were very excited about this idea and we suddenly found ourselves with a big commitment with basically no idea of how we would, or even could, pull this off.  To make a long story short, over the following five years, this effort has exceeded my wildest dreams:

  • Local corporations have donated more than 130 laptops,
  • We funneled significant portions of our charitable contributions to purchase peripherals, software, and networking supplies,
  • Several of us from iBusiness Solutions have traveled to Guatemala to setup 8 computer labs,
  • There are now approximately 1300 kids using these computers every week, and
  • We are already beginning to see positive changes in student retention and literacy.

For me, this “project” is the integration of my personal dreams, my son’s native culture, our church’s ministry, our company team, and our company’s goal to “make a difference” — not just work-life balance, but actually work-life integration.  I have also met many people in Guatemala whom I now consider my friends.

While we did not start this for any particular business purposes, as a company we have realized several benefits:

  • Our Guatemala initiative was a deciding factor for at least one person to join our team,
  • This has become a significant part of our company culture,
  • This trip has become an annual tradition of sorts for us, and
  • It has been a conversation-starter on many occasions to discuss what’s important to us as a company.

So rather than fighting for work-life balance by keeping the two separate, maybe we – individually and corporately – should all look for more ways to integrate the two.

Question:  How have you realized true work-life balance?