In my last post, I talked about reclaiming your sense of agency (ownership) for your schedule. This is the first step in developing what I call the Executive Work Portfolio. In this post, I will lay out the philosophy that underpins a system for managing energy and time. Inlater posts, I’ll go into more detail on how to set the system in motion.

Managing your work portfolio starts with managing the context for your work. A context shapes whatever exists within it. For example, a meal in the context of a holiday is a celebration, or a ritual. In the context of a short turnaround between flights, a meal is a hassle.

Here’s another example:

Take some vegetables, chop them up and toss them in a pile in the backyard

What do you have?

Take the same chopped vegetables and throw them on the floor

What do you have?

Next, put them in a wooden bowl on your table

What do you have?

Same content, different context, different experience and different action.

What is the context for your work? Most people don’t ever ask this question. They take the context as a given. It’s obvious that they haven’t thought about it. Work simply exists for them in the context, “have to.” It doesn’t occur to most people that work could be considered meaningful, as in“want to,” “desire,” “purpose,” “calling.” Consequently, people relate to their work like the chopped vegetables on the floor – an unappetizing mess. If only they brought a wooden bowl to the table, they could enjoy a salad.

So, what’s a useful context for executive work? For most C-level executives, after reaching40 to 45 years of age, they no longer claim that they “have to“ work. If by that time, they couldn’t live on the assets generated at this level of management, there is something seriously wrong with their household budgets.For most C-level executives, work is a choice.

If this true, why work? When you know that you no longer “have to” work, what do you really, really want? The authentic answer will be somewhat in line with your life’s purpose. Why would anyone continue to work, unless it was to fulfill a deep desire, a passion, a mission, or a calling. With your life purpose as the context, work is no longer work; it is full self-expression.

In the next post, I’ll discuss how to generate this context.