con·gru·ence /kənˈɡro͞oəns/
:agreement or harmony; compatibility

So an odd thought and perhaps interesting insight (I guess I’ll let you decide if it’s insightful) popped into my head today. I’ll categorize this under the umbrella of ‘values’ and call it ‘congruence’.

I’m at the dentist today getting my teeth cleaned and as I wait to go in for some reason I began thinking about work-life balance.  I’ve always hated this idea that work and life have to be balanced.  When I hear the expression I picture one of those balance scales used way way back – the ones where a retailer would put a weight on one side and then add whatever they were selling on the other side until it balanced.  The metaphor seems to imply that as one adds more ‘life’ on one side, one would have to work more to keep things in balance. Odd.

On the contrary, I remember back in my P&G days hearing someone say that work and life should be integrated.  Yes I agree!  There should be a harmony between the two versus always trying to choose between them – that’s congruence.

But here’s the reason I described this thought as being odd.  All of this was flooding my head as I watched the news update on the killings at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church.

WHAT?  How could these possibly be related?  Let me explain.

The news report was explaining how the murderer, Dylan Storm Roof, attended a prayer meeting with the victims for nearly an hour before killing six women and three men – including pastor and US state senator Clementa Pinckney.  How does someone do that?  How does someone sit there amongst their future victims? In a prayer meeting no less.  You’d REALLY have to be able to compartmentalize what you are currently doing from the thoughts/intentions of what you are going to do.

Compartmentalizing is the opposite of congruence.

But don’t people compartmentalize all the time? At least to some degree?  I started thinking about my management days when we would discuss how it is that managers are able to on one hand, attend a social function with their employees or department, but then on the other hand administer rules, manage performance, and make decisions that might effect them.

Is what Dylan Storm Roof did any different than the executive that one week attends a dinner for the long-term service award employees and then the next week decides to slash the operating budget, leading to layoffs of those same people?

In the present moment, people seem able to act one way – and then later act in a way that is completely incongruent.  That’s not healthy!  Not to the individual nor to the community, employees, neighbours, and children that could be affected.

How we act in one moment needs to be congruent with our total lives – who we are, what we value and who we aspire to be. Anything less is incongruent and a barrier to healthy, collaborative relationships and communities.

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