Balance the Grind: In conversation - Michelle Gibbings

In this interview piece published by Balance the Grind and authored by Hao, I was invited to share more about me, work-life balance and my thoughts on work. Read the interview below.

1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I spent 20+ years in the corporate world in a range of senior leadership roles from compliance to strategy, to transformation and advisory. In the quiet space of a four-day meditation retreat, I discovered it was time to do something else. I loved being challenged and learning – that would never change – but I now craved autonomy. The only way to get that was to work for myself.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I have routines that top and tail the day, but outside that every day is different. Typically, I meditate and exercise in the morning (which sounds so clichéd), and finish the working day by walking our pooch, Barney, and reflecting on the day. During the day, I’ll be facilitating sessions, coaching, reading and writing or doing research.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
I am very fortunate that my role is very flexible. If I have a laptop and phone I can pretty much work anywhere I want.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you, and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I love Dame Quentin Bryce’s comment that you can have it all, just not at the same time. To me, balance is a choice and involves trade-offs. My concept of balance will differ from someone else. I am continually making decisions about what matters the most, and therefore what I say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Before COVID, I travelled interstate almost every week. I am not missing being in an airport lounge or on a plane. The shift to remote working for many aspects of my work will remain. However, there are certainly some sessions and engagements that will always be better in person.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I am an avid reader, so I always have a long list of favourites. I loved two recent books: Tara June Winch’s The Yield, and Johan Hari’s Lost Connections, for varying reasons. My favourite podcasts include: Revisionist History (Malcolm Gladwell), The Minefield (Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens), and a raft of other ABC podcasts.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
My runners; I went through three pairs of runners last year. Spotify, as I love listening to music, and Pocket Cast, as I like listening to podcasts in fast speaking mode.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I am interested in how female leaders from different cultures approach the topic, so insights from Michelle Obama, Melinda Gates, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Jacinda Adern, Melanie Perkins, and Sri Mulyani Indrawat (for example) would be fascinating.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
It’s critical to listen to yourself and to know what matters. In my business’s early days, I had pressure from a friend who thought I was working too hard. However, the hours I worked wasn’t an issue for me (or my husband). We had clear goals and were happy with the approach. It turned out the issue wasn’t about me, but about them and their needs.

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