What It Means to Take Care of Myself

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International Men’s Day is an opportunity to encourage and celebrate men’s positive contribution to society while focusing on caring for themselves, their health, and well-being. At Schneider Electric, we know that greater workplace flexibility can positively impact gender roles at home and work. Jean-Luc Barraud shares how he’s made time for his passion and work while taking advantage of the flexibility policies at Schneider Electric. 

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” – Confucius

A few years ago, the vagaries of life led me to be helped by a professional of states of malaise– a psychologist. We talked a lot about what drives people, motivates or destroys them, what was important to me, and on the contrary, what was uncomfortable for me. I put words to what I had always felt; hypersensitivity, high potential. In France, it is called “being zebra”.

The questions that then arise are: is it really forbidden to cry when you are a man? Do you really have to be strong all the time or can you ask for help? Should we accept everything that is considered “a standard male”: to tolerate alcohol well, to know how to speak loud and clear, have an attraction to football and big cars, the feeling of belonging to a pack, to do a lot of hours of work because an engineer works effortlessly so it can work more? Am I obliged to use the only acceptable excuse if I don’t want to go to an after-work event tomorrow: “I have work”? Why do we never hear “I don’t want to” or “I’m tired”?

The real question is: do I want to be a standard male?

The answer to this question is a firm and definitive “no”, so I set about deconstructing the objective of a ‘standard male, engineer, in a big company’, since this objective is absolutely not me. So if I don’t want to go to an after-work event, I just say “no thanks”. And if I find a situation uncomfortable, I get out of it discreetly and politely. We only live once.

To go even further, because music has been a passion of mine for my whole life, why not make it my second job? I love my work at Schneider Electric, it is exciting, full of inventions, and armored with techniques, but making music takes time. To professionalize my home studio which has been a long time dream of mine and being a musician who sells his music requires a good physical condition: hearing well, not having pain in my fingers, wrists. In short, I had to work on it well before this uncertain retirement.

So I reduced my working time at Schneider to 90% by modifying the employment contract, which is a simple and well-established procedure, although usually used by young parents. It is as simple as speaking with your manager and contacting your human resources manager. I now finish my engineering week on Friday at noon to immediately open the studio, start music lessons, rehearsals, balls, concerts, until Sunday evening. Sometimes I have no appointment on Friday afternoon which then gives me a moment for reading, calmness, and rest. Without any constraints, the time is just for me.

To me, that’s what it means to take care of yourself.

To learn more about Schneider Electric’s diversity, equity, and inclusion policies, visit us here www.se.com/diversity. To join the #SEGreatPeople team, check out our job opportunities here www.se.com/careers 

About the author

Jean-Luc is 57 years old, remarried and has 2 children ages 24 and 29 years old. He lives in the countryside of France with his wife who produces aromatic and medicinal plants. He entered Telemecanique in 1984 as a cabler, with a bachelor’s + 2 diplomae in Electronics and also a bachelor’s + 2 diplomae in Industrial Maintenance. He is also a project leader of ISO 15531-44 and carry a patent on RFID tags. Jean-Luc is a diplomed engineer (master II) since 2009. and his ability to self-study and trainings at Schneider allowed him to progress in industrial computing until passing a master’s in Industrial and Automatic Computer Science in 2009 without taking courses. Jean-Luc loves to cook for barbeques with friends and everyday dinners – a relaxing and happy time for him and others.

Check out Jean-Luc’s music and last album on his SoundCloud!

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