228 episodes

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Work Life Play with Aaron McHugh Aaron McHugh

    • Business
    • 5.0 • 74 Ratings

Get the real stories of how entrepreneurs, artists, heretics, authors, liberators, athletes, and innovators pursue their ideas and aspirations.

From TED speakers, national broadcasters, New York Times best selling authors to Ultra-marathon runners and start-up CEO’s you’re guaranteed to be encouraged to swing for the fence in your own pursuits.

Accept my invitation to:
Do your best work
Live the life you want to live
Play a lot more

    Why I Believe Work Life Balance is a Myth

    Why I Believe Work Life Balance is a Myth

    Let go of work-life balance and embrace the unforced rhythms of a fully integrated life. I used to think that work-life balance was achievable.
    Now I believe it is a myth.
    No matter how hard I tried, I could never achieve this perfect moment of everything in my life working in perfect Zen harmony and balance.
    I felt so exhausted trying to stay in balance The way forward isn’t exhaustion. It isn’t juggling, stretching, or herculean gymnastic efforts to come through for others while ignoring yourself. The way forward is an integrated, wholehearted life.
    The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor, and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he’s always doing both.”
    -James Michener Here’s why I wasn’t able to achieve balance After the death of our daughter Hadley in 2011, I found myself desperately trying to hold my life together. My marriage was suffering. My kids needed their dad. And my already intense corporate career as an executive was only getting more complicated as responsibilities and promotions kept coming my way.
    Our sweet daughter Hadley crossing over to eternity
    I was burning out but didn’t admit it.
    Anybody else could see the signs a mile away. I was so focused on what was right in front of me that when it finally hit-I was utterly blindsided. And the solution was nothing short of a complete do-over—a “reboot,” as we called it. We sold our house and everything, down to the last fork. We spent the summer serving at a Young Life camp, finding a new normal.
    Ringing in the Opening Day Trading bell at the London Stock Exchange, but wondering what’s it all for?
    It wasn’t easy. It took brutal months of inner work, therapy programs, tears, and facing the old stories that no longer served us. Stories like “I have to do it all” and “I can’t trust anybody else to get it done.” But out of that, we emerged with a new vision for our life—a new story-A life filled with excitement, ambition, love, rest, forgiveness, and hope.
    As we began this journey creating a new life I realized my software executive career no longer aligned with the person I had become. For so long, I had tried to find the fabled work-life balance.
    The problem was I didn’t want my life to be compartmentalized anymore, with each area staying separate from the other. I wanted it all integrated into one wild, beautiful mess.

    Once I stopped trying to achieve work-life balance, I discovered a third-way rhythm, “a repeated pattern of movement” where work, life, play, relationships, rest, finances, friendships, and adventure could co-exist within my experience of each day.
    I began to experience my life as a complete whole where every valuable aspect was connected and worked together. I discovered more of God’s presence and meaning in ways I had never noticed. It radically transformed my life for the better-my mission now is to share that discovery with as many people as possible (like you).
    Aligning the work I do, with who I’d become Ultimately I left my corporate executive career behind. After eight months of living off of savings, pursuing work that fit the person I had become, and taking our checking account down to $1500, I discovered a new career doing work that I truly loved. That fit within this new integrated life we were architecting. (Fun fact, my first client meeting in my new career as an executive leadership coach happened less than 1 mile from where I resigned from my old gig just months before. Talk about coming full circle.)
    Taking an inventory of the assets of my life. Dashboard lights from Green (going great), Yellow (watch this), to Red (needs attention now)
    Loosening our grip on balance My story

    • 12 min
    Friendship-The Journey Impossible Alone

    Friendship-The Journey Impossible Alone

    Today, I'm in the interview seat again. Today's topic Friendship and the journey of life impossible to accomplish alone. (Carl Richards) Greetings from the Joy Bus. My name's Carl Richards, and I am your host today of the Work Life Play podcast. I've taken over from Aaron. It was an invitation, but I fully accepted the invitation to interview Aaron somewhere around. We're, we're talking ten years now.
    Aaron:
    Ten years.
    Carl Richards:
    And 200+ some-odd episodes. So, Aaron, welcome to the show.
    Aaron:
    Thank you. I like it. We're in the Joybus. Carl's in the seat you always held for the guests, but you are interviewing me this time.
    Carl Richards:
    What would I like to start on? It strikes me, and this is a strange place to start, but I'm going to go there anyway. Talk to me about friendship a bit.
    I want to pull in David Whyte's poem on friendship. David writes, "The ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement neither of the other nor the self. The ultimate touchstone is witness the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another. To have walked with them, to have believed in them. And sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span on a journey impossible to accomplish alone."

    Show notes: https://www.aaronmchugh.com/podcast/friendship-the-journey-impossible-alone/
    Keep going, 
    Aaron

    • 25 min
    A Decade of Work Life Play Anniversary Edition

    A Decade of Work Life Play Anniversary Edition

    In this decade anniversary celebration episode, Morgan Snyder is in the studio to interview me. For me, though, Work Life Play has no periods, no exclamation marks, no hyphens in between. It's all one integrated together story. It's taken me 10 years to articulate what it is I've been chasing the whole time. Enjoy this friends and Keep Going- Aaron
    Work Life Play Merch available here.

    • 57 min
    Reach for the stuff that's real

    Reach for the stuff that's real

    Friends, I released ten new podcast episodes to celebrate my Decade Anniversary of Work Life Play. I'm proud to share these little gems with you. I know they will help you live more fully in your adventure, explore a well-lived life and find more meaning in your daily experience. A decade agoI began podcasting in 2012 with borrowed equipment, no training, with a simple idea "I wanted to explore." I experimented with one tiny step, then the next. Back then, there was no map to How to Podcast. With trust and boldness, I booked my first two guests before I knew how to record or publish an episode. I should have shared this with my guests. Ha! Compelled to explore beyond the map of my life experiences, expand my mind and heart, and curate stories of good humans. That's as far as I knew. With hindsight's wisdom, I borrow Parker Palmer's explanation for "Why did you do it?" "This is something I can't NOT do, for reasons I'm unable to explain to anyone else and don't fully understand myself, but that are nonetheless compelling." You're listening to a decade of exploration. The fruits are beyond just inspiration, but transformation for myself and many of you. Enjoy, experiment, and keep going. It's worth it. -Aaron

    Episode: Reach for the stuff that's realA craftsman cobbler just resoled my fly fishing wading boots, and they're ready for another "one hundred thousand casts." The landfill was calling for them. Our modern world has an insatiable appetite for new—version 6.0. Version 13.0, and it's killing us and the planet we call home. This isn't a post just about saving the world. It's about the deeper drivers-what and who we value and how our hearts and souls are connected. Allow me to share a cowboy tune from Guy Clark with you, and then we'll reconvene.
    I got an old blue shirt and it suits me just fine.I like the way it feels, so I wear it all the time
    I got an old guitar, won't ever stay in tuneI like the way it sounds in a dark and empty room
    I got an old pair of boots, and they fit just right Well I can work all day, and I can dance all night
    I got an old used car, and it runs just like a topI get the feelin' it ain't ever gonna stop
    Stuff that works, stuff that holds up The kind of stuff you don't hang on the wall
    Stuff that's real, stuff you feel
    The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall
    I got a pretty good friend who's seen me at my worst
    He can't tell if I'm a blessing or a curse
    But he always shows up when chips are down
    That's the kind of stuff I like to be around
    Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
    The kind of stuff you don't hang on the wall
    Stuff that's real, stuff you feel
    The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall
    I got a woman I love, she's crazy, paints like God
    She's got a playground sense of justice, she won't take odds
    I got a tattoo with her name right through my soul
    I think everything she touches turns to gold
    Stuff that works, stuff that holds up
    The kind of stuff you don't hang on the wall
    Stuff that's real, stuff you feel
    The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall

    Perhaps, the boots we have, the old car, the pretty good friend, and the partner we love are the stuff that's real, stuff we feel. The kind of stuff you reach for when you fall. Stay with the stuff that's real.
    Resist the upgrade.
    Keep going- Aaron
    Work Life Play Merch available here

    • 4 min
    Working Vacations and Real Rest

    Working Vacations and Real Rest

    Friends, I released ten new podcast episodes to celebrate my Decade Anniversary of Work Life Play. I'm proud to share these little gems with you. I know they will help you live more fully in your adventure, explore a well-lived life and find more meaning in your daily experience.
    A decade ago
    I began podcasting in 2012 with borrowed equipment, no training, with a simple idea "I wanted to explore."
    I experimented with one tiny step, then the next. Back then, there was no map to How to Podcast. With trust and boldness, I booked my first two guests before I knew how to record or publish an episode. I should have shared this with my guests. Ha!
    Compelled to explore beyond the map of my life experiences, expand my mind and heart, and curate stories of good humans. That's as far as I knew. With hindsight's wisdom, I borrow Parker Palmer's explanation for "Why did you do it?" "This is something I can't NOT do, for reasons I'm unable to explain to anyone else and don't fully understand myself, but that are nonetheless compelling."
    You're listening to a decade of exploration. The fruits are beyond just inspiration, but transformation for myself and many of you. Enjoy, experiment, and keep going. It's worth it.
    -Aaron

    Episode: Working Vacations: Why we do it and how to stop
    I received a desperate email that read, "I'm in leadership, working crazy hours, working through my vacation last week instead of resting, and the story goes on."

    The gravitational pull is to always be connected, always available, and always responding- even on vacation. I've done it too-taken calls on the beach while the kids swam, squeezed in a few emails before breakfast, dialed into a "quick" call during dinner, returning seven days later, tired and frustrated.

    Why do we struggle to step away, trusting that others can and will find their path to good outcomes?

    Reminds me of the children's book, "If You Give A Pig a Pancake" A cautionary tale of saying yes once, the Pig never relents from her requests.

    Excerpt from the book
    If you give a pig a pancake, she'll want some syrup to go with it.
    Pig: May I please have some syrup?
    When she gets all sticky, she'll want to take a bath.
    Pig: May I please have some bubbles and a toy?
    When you give her your rubber duck, she'll feel homesick.
    Book by Laura Numeroff
    Your working vacation and The Pig
    Sticking with our Pig and a pancake analogy, here's the version of the story you're familiar with from your most recent holiday break. The new requests are like the Pig-never fully satisfied.

    (Sunday night email) If you can join the call on Tuesday morning at 630am, I promise it will be a quick one.

    (Monday text) After the call, May I please also receive a written summary and go ahead and put it into a few PPT pages?

    (Tuesday email & text) There is an RFP we're working on that just came in-quick deadline. I would love for you to answer just a few questions on pages 12-28. Do you mind? It would be super helpful-its due before you return from holiday.

    (Wednesday email) May I please have only two more hours of your attention, during that family dinner you'd planned, the RFP client has a Q&A-the only time everyone is available. You can make it, right?

    -You get the picture. It's not a vacation. It's what my friend calls "PTO-Pretend Time Off".


    "If you don't prioritize your life, someone else will."
    -Greg McKeown, Essentialism
    Here's my advice for how to enable real rest
    In the modern world, rest is vital to replenish the nutrients in our creative engines. Prioritize your rest and recovery. Operationalize your values with better choices. Take responsibility and do your creative best with your own life. In your absence, trust that others will step up and in to solve the challenges of the day.

    For your next holiday, borrow my out-of-office auto-responder. Here's the one I use, (Thanks Well-being thought leader Jen Fisher for the inspiration)

    "I will be out

    • 6 min
    Paying Attention to Being On and Off Purpose

    Paying Attention to Being On and Off Purpose

    Friends, I released ten new podcast episodes to celebrate my Decade Anniversary of Work Life Play. I'm proud to share these little gems with you. I know they will help you live more fully in your adventure, explore a well-lived life and find more meaning in your daily experience.
    A decade ago
    I began podcasting in 2012 with borrowed equipment, no training, with a simple idea "I wanted to explore."
    I experimented with one tiny step, then the next. Back then, there was no map to How to Podcast. With trust and boldness, I booked my first two guests before I knew how to record or publish an episode. I should have shared this with my guests. Ha!
    Compelled to explore beyond the map of my life experiences, expand my mind and heart, and curate stories of good humans. That's as far as I knew. With hindsight's wisdom, I borrow Parker Palmer's explanation for "Why did you do it?" "This is something I can't NOT do, for reasons I'm unable to explain to anyone else and don't fully understand myself, but that are nonetheless compelling."
    You're listening to a decade of exploration. The fruits are beyond just inspiration, but transformation for myself and many of you. Enjoy, experiment, and keep going. It's worth it.
    -Aaron
    Episode: Paying attention to being on and off purpose
    So you don't yet know what your life purpose is, why you are here and what you are here to do. Try paying attention to the moments, the conversations, the ways you feel On Purpose. Here are a few small On Purpose practices that help me experience purposeful living and leading.

    I'm like WALL-E the Pixar Robot. My family giggles, but I pick up trash everywhere I go. I value caring for the planet and our home instead of stepping over debris in parking lots and trails. I kneel and clean as I go about life wherever I am. I'm On Purpose when I'm participating in restoring the planet's beauty.

    Imagine how beautiful our world will be when 7.9 billion people care for our home.

    Here's another On Purpose practice. I put down my phone when going through a check-out lane at a store or in a drive-through. I choose to honor and engage the human being before me. I believe Saint Paul "we are God's workmanship" we human beings are valuable, and I dignify the Divine in them by giving one another our full attention.
    This way of operating in the world applies with senior executives or a customer service rep; I'm On Purpose when I'm dignifying every human.

    Imagine how we will treat one another when we believe all human beings are valuable.


    We will find ourselves Off Purpose, for moments, maybe for weeks and years, ignoring and running the risk of eventually forgetting what we value and believe.

    The poet David Whyte worked with a group of particularly thoughtful managers, looking at how we sacrifice our personal desires (Off Purpose) on the altar of work and success. One of the women in the group shared a handful of haunting lines:
    "Ten years ago…
    I turned my face for a moment
    and it became my life."

    With grace and curiosity, pay attention to your compass needle. Notice when you've traveled many miles without checking your instrumentation. Regularly ask yourself, "where am I? how am I? where am I heading?" It's much easier to make regular minor adjustments than waiting too long.

    You'll be surprised to discover that after paying attention, strengthening your awareness muscle, making two-degree shifts, "what's my purpose, what am I here to do?" becomes easier to dance with. It won't be about having the correct answer anymore. You'll speak about the way you live, work, play, and love.

    Stay alert. Choose being On Purpose.

    Keep going-
    Aaron
    Work Life Play Merch available here

    • 6 min

Customer Reviews

5.0 out of 5
74 Ratings

74 Ratings

malfoxley ,

Great show!

Aaron, host of the podcast, highlights all aspects of how people purpose the passions and more in this can’t miss podcast! The host and expert guests offer insightful advice and information that is helpful to anyone that listens!

obacker19 ,

Empowering, insightful and actionable! 🔥

Whether you’re well established as someone who can translate creative energy into the impact you want to have on the world, or just getting started as a catalyst for change - this is a must-listen podcast for you! Aaron does an incredible job leading conversations that cover a huge breadth of topics related to the ins and outs of building a thriving enterprise and life you can be proud of - from leaders who’ve actually walked the path. Highly recommend listening and subscribing!

youniversalife ,

Life Giving

Aaron has created an excellent show that shines a light on many life-giving topics. He recognizes the importance of play and puts it into perspective. His content is inspiring and makes you wonder about your true capabilities. I'm glad I discovered his material. Keep going Aaron!

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