Shaping the Future
We spoke recently by phone with our friend and mentor, Jessica DeGroot, founder of the ThirdPath Institute. ThirdPath is dedicated to helping men and women redesign their work lives to match with the needs of their families, and Jessica happens to be a genuine long-time ESP parent herself (along with her husband, of course). So it was a pleasure to share ideas with her and to get an update on the important work and mission of ThirdPath. We would like to pass on a few of her thoughts to you:
Any job can be redesigned: ThirdPath is built around the idea that, given the right tools, everyone can achieve the work schedule they want. And that every job can be tweaked to match the needs of good workers and still accomplish what is required for the organization. Good workers are like gold to employers, and ThirdPath wants to help business leaders learn the skills to retain these workers and create a work environment that will nurture them as they do excellent work.
Men hold an important key to workplace redesign: It is not that Jessica believes women are unimportant, but in order for significant and lasting change to occur she is also putting her efforts into supporting men to take steps toward flexibility at work. Men face unique barriers when making these changes, but in order to push the workplace into a new era of flexibility, we are going to need the equal efforts of men and women, young and old.
Equal sharing naysayers often speak from personal fears: Jessica has found time and again that when people say equal sharing is impossible, they usually mean it seems impossible for them on a personal level. Inside every critic of ESP is the fear that their own partner would absolutely, positively never buy into equal sharing. And while there will always be men and women who have no interest in equal sharing, Jessica believes there are many more who can share in the joys and benefits of this model if they are willing to take a moment and face some of their own fears and concerns.
The future is full of possibility: Jessica has a vision, and her voice virtually sparkles with enthusiasm as she explains it. She sees a world where everyone can create the schedule they need to balance work and family, with no regard to gender. She sees government policies on flexible work rights combining with enlightened business leaders and forward-thinking individual parents to build this world. In the workplace, she is betting on small businesses rather than large corporations to be the innovative leaders of work/life balance. And she believes that both Generation X/Y (with their balance idealism) and the Baby Boomers (with their desire for scaled down meaningful work as they near retirement) will make it all possible.
We love Jessica's vision and plans for the future, and her enthusiasm about the present. It feels good to be in the thick of this change!