Embracing the life side of work/life balance

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Written by Guest Blogger, Zachary Hanners

Work life balance is an important element to consider when choosing a career. Many of us become so consumed with work that it begins to define us. A satisfying career is important, but there is more to life than what one does for a living. There’s something else that moves us.

There’s something about having nearly 2,000 feet of air under your toes as you make your way up an imposing, granite face that distills your life into its simplest form. The need for trust in your partner. Belief in the protection you placed. Faith that the rock will not break. Most of all, the confidence in your ability to make it out of this situation alive.

The air is thin at 14,000 feet of elevation. It burns your lungs to breathe. The wind rips across the rock face in seemingly every direction imaginable. No matter how difficult the route, there is always a path of least resistance. A way to gain progression up the wall without cheating yourself of the satisfaction that comes with pushing beyond your physical and mental limit. Yet, I continue to seek out this feeling every chance I get.

There is a term used in climbing to describe the first true die-hard climbers in Yosemite. The dirtbag. The term refers climbers who lived in the dirt, ate cat food, and only dreamed of first ascents on the soaring, golden granite monoliths that surrounded them in the valley. This is a romantic ideal that is often glamorized on social, but for myself, it is far from a dream.

I have always known that life is multi-faceted. I have a dog and cat that I share with my fiancé – my partner of nearly eight years. We hope to start a family soon. I’ve spent the better part of my life living on a 44-foot catamaran in the Caribbean surfing, and even spent several years as a surf coach. Climbing is not my first passion and it will certainly not be my last. For me, it is all about leveraging my resources to live the fullest life possible, and Schneider Electric has allowed me to do just that.

With a fantastic healthcare program, room for growth in every business unit, and the ability to work remotely, I have been able to chase my dreams of high altitude mountaineering and alpine rock climbing and still maintain the budding family life that I hold so dear. In a nutshell, it allows me to have it all: the family that supports me and the adventure that my soul so desperately needs. I have always been candid with my superiors that I am not living to work, I am working to live.

Tip-toeing across small granite nubbins I gaze down at my climbing partner 120 feet below me and 60 feet from my last piece of protection, a small cam device wedged between a flaring crack in the rock. The consequences of falling are dire. Large swaths of tourists fill the valley below in Rock Mountain National Park. As the wind rips up the face, I catch the sound of children screaming in excitement as they experience their first crystal clear alpine lake. They have no idea the fear and personal hell I am currently in.

With the protection far below, I am painfully shy of the summit. The flake of rock I am holding on to bends precariously. I must commit. I must make it home tonight. Finally, I understand that there is no choice but upward progression and I lift my foot to my waist. As calmly as possible, I rest all my weight on my big toe and barely latch the next hold. I quickly reach up to the crack above me and place a piece of much needed protection and once again I am safe, I am free and I am alive.

I’m not a “dirtbag”, but I am definitely not doing this for a few likes on social media. I am a professional; a professional in the IT industry with a bright future and a beautiful, growing family. Life is all about checks and balances. Too much of a good thing is just that, too much. I have been able to leverage my position with Schneider Electric so that I can live my life to its fullest, chase my dreams, and set even greater goals for myself. I am one of the lucky ones because I am privileged enough to not have to live to work. On the contrary, I am working to live.

Work Life BalanceZachary Hanners began his tenure with Schneider Electric with the highly successful new hire class of January 2014. After putting in his time in the Customer Care Center, he now works with the eSupport team. He has recently relocated to Boulder, CO to chase his dreams of precarious situations in high places with his fiancé and two pets. He plans on continuing his career through APC and is excited to see where life will take him next.

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