Have you ever wondered how it is possible that a country like Sweden, with barely 10 million inhabitants, has launched so many successful multinationals into the world? Ikea, H&M, Skype? The truth is that it is no coincidence. The Swedes have their own way of understanding organizational culture and leadership: the Lagom method. A methodology that takes into account decisive issues such as satisfaction and productivity in employees or the reconciliation of work and family life.
¿ What am I going to learn in this article?
The Lagom concept
A Swedish proverb states Lagom är bäst, which means that “moderation is best” or, as one would say in English, “virtue lies in the middle ground”. This is precisely the philosophy behind the Lagom concept. It’s a term used to define when something is neither too much nor too little, i.e. when it is just right.
It can be applied to any aspect of life, from the amount of sugar you put in your coffee to the hours you spend working. It’s about aiming to compensate for our vital needs in a way that allows us to feel full and at peace, without regretting that we’re leaving something important to us aside because we’re over-indulging in other things.
“To compensate our vital needs so that we can feel full and at peace”
There are as many definitions of Lagom as there are people, since what’s balanced or sufficient for you may not be the same as for others. The important thing is to find our own meaning or purpose and try to apply it to our routine as best suits us. In this way, we can mix moments of productivity, rest and leisure according to our needs.
Reconciliation of work and family life thanks to Lagom
In the workplace, Lagom translates into that work-life balance so difficult to achieve and for which the people of Sweden are so envied. It’s one of the qualities that most identifies Swedish culture. Swedes are expected to work hard, but not to overdo it; they’re expected to be lagom.
However, nowadays, if there’s one thing that defines our life, that’s excess. We work under the mentality of “go big or go home”, which could be translated as the need to always go all out, to give the maximum of ourselves in the workplace.
As the philosopher Byung-Chul Han explains in “The society of exhaustion“, in today’s culture, the individual self-exploits himself to exhaustion voluntarily under a false sense of freedom and self-fulfillment. This form of exploitation is far more efficient and productive than any other, but it only fosters exhausted and depressed people.
Now, what happens if we devote all our effort to only one facet of our life? That we neglect the rest and, in addition, we even damage the one to which we give so much time and energy because we overload ourselves.
In previous articles we have already discussed the benefits of work life balance. This time, we’ll focus on how to apply it thanks to Lagom.
Let’s be honest, how many things do you have in your house, taking up space, that you don’t use? We live in a society that invites us to buy constantly. As a result, we have closets, boxes and even rooms full of objects and clothes that we don’t need.
This is precisely what Lagom advocates for: it is not the one who has the most who is happiest, but the one who needs the least. One way to achieve this is by investing in quality rather than quantity. Buying durable and functional products will ensure that we do not consume compulsively, but only what’s essential.
Find your mental space
This commitment to minimalism also produces well-being and happiness. Working or enjoying free time within a tidy physical space conveys calm and helps our mental space to be tidy too.
An essential aspect of lagom, since organizing our head involves knowing what our priorities are and what makes us happy. In this way, we can spend time thinking and paying attention to all the important facets of our life.
Detox from technology
Being available and connected all day detracts us from relaxing, takes time away from rest and hinders our ability to live in a more balanced way. Have you ever wondered how much time we invest in a day in front of screens? Knowing how to detach from electronic devices allows us to spend time and be truly present in other situations with the people we care about and have in front of us.
A fundamental point when we talk about work-life balance. Currently, many professionals live in contact with their work from home via mobile or computer, which means that they’re not really connected to their family even when they are together at home.
It cares for the environment
Lagom encourages moderation and invites to live with the basics. An attitude that has a positive impact on the environment. It implies, for example, reducing energy or water consumption and being more conscious of the resources we use. It also makes us ask ourselves what we really need to live, avoiding both excesses and accumulating unnecessary things.
Keys to Lagom-style leadership
Instead of constantly juggling to get everything done, Lagom proposes a new way of understanding our obligations and getting things done: that of balance. Before continuing, it’s necessary to make one point clear: Lagom is not a mathematical formula. Each of us has to discover what it means to us and how we want to apply it.
“Lagom proposes a new way of understanding our obligations and of doing things: that of balance”
Based on this idea, we can divide Lagom‘s keys into the following points related to the reconciliation of work and family life:
* Efficiency vs. quantity
It is often believed that working overtime or working outside our schedule is a proof of commitment and dedication. In addition, sometimes we have to spend extra time because we have not been as efficient as we could during the workday, that sometimes happens to us. So, instead of working more, ask yourself how you can work better. In other words, look for efficiency.
Working until exhaustion or reaching critical levels of stress can trigger health problems and affect our professional satisfaction. We run the risk of ending up burned out and disenchanted.
* Stop thinking you can have it all
We’re not meant to be perfect, at least not in all areas of life. If we are honest with ourselves, we know that it’s an impossible goal to achieve and that it will only bring us frustration and resignation. As Lagom states, it is better to aspire to be “the best we can be” and thus achieve work-life balance.
* Let go of your expectations and don’t beat yourself up.
You have to realize that to be happy you don’t need to be the best. It has more to do with knowing what your desires, strengths and limitations are.
Benefits of Lagom
With a Lagom lifestyle you can improve your work-life balance, make sure your house is always tidy, take care of your relationship with your loved ones, dedicate time to your hobbies and do physical exercise. In short, you can live a happier and more balanced life.
When you learn to organize yourself in this way and stop letting your mind wander at a frantic pace, you can lead your life in a more authentic and focused way, accepting and coping with experiences, both good and bad, and being fully present both at work and at home.