In All Things – Balance

In All Things - BalanceThis is one of those primary yet tough life principles for me. I have learned that I need others in my life to hold me accountable to this principle. Accountable to my dreams, goals, and aspirations as a businessman, father, and husband. What is this primary life principle? It is balance.

I can still hear Mr. Miyagi yelling at Daniel LaRusso in the movie, The Karate Kid, “Balance Daniel-san, balance!” There is some truth to this in the concept of “life-balance”. We’re all torn in two directions, as illustrated below:

Work . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Action . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Leading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Speaking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Productivity . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Serving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Giving . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Applying . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Confidence . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Society . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Duty . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Joy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
External Life . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Leisure
Meditation
Following
Listening
Recreation
Waiting
Receiving
Learning
Humility
Solitude
Freedom
Sorrow
Internal Life

So, how do you find balance? Is it appropriate or even possible in this day and age to find balance in life? With all the competing areas above, most people settle for focusing on one area alone.

Sacrifice For The Sake of Excellence
Excelling in one area is good, right? Where would Michael Jordan be, or Donald Trump be unless they excelled in one focused area? By no means am I suggesting we stoop to the level of mediocrity. Yet, while unbridled attention in one area may bring success, it almost always brings failures in many other areas. For example, “it is not uncommon to discover a physician who fails as a parent, an entertainer who fails as a spouse, a pastor who neglects personal health, or an executive who fails at all the other areas,” says author and educator, Dr. Richard Swenson. Stanford Physicist, Dr. Richard Bube, recommends a more balanced approach so that we do not fall into, what he calls, “negative excellence.” A person who chooses to strive for high degrees of excellence in one or two areas often fails in others. While, the person who choses to live balanced has no outstanding levels of excellence but, they do not have any areas of failure either.

There Is An Answer
You’ll be glad to know that life balance is attainable. It starts with time. You thought I was going to say priorities. Business people practice prioritizing a lot. The mistake is, prioritizing dictates that one area is more important than another. What I am saying is that all these areas are important and that to attain balance we need to start with the time we give to each.

Learn to say “no.” In today’s Western society it is easy to overload and overbook ourselves. Saying “no” puts you in control of your time demands. This leads to the next item: Get better control of your life.

Getting control means overthrowing the tyrannical rule of the urgent. Reorient your life around the important, not the urgent things of life.

Next, watch out for the circular trappings of trying to find the imbalance in your life. In doing so you run the risk of becoming even more unbalanced. George Rust warns, “We respond to our sense of imbalance by committing more time and energy to an area in which we feel deficient.” The last thing you need is to commit more time than you have.

Finally, be considerate of others trying to live a balanced life. If someone tells you “no”, learn to accept it. Just because we choose to overburden ourselves doesn’t mean we have to do the same to others.

Balance is attainable. It takes work but it can be done. You might consider sharing your desire to live a balanced-life with a close friend and then ask them to hold you accountable. Give them permission to ask you how you’re doing on a regular basis — and, be honest in your reply.

Related Links
Living More With Less
The Overload Syndrome
Margin
A Minute of Margin

2 thoughts on “In All Things – Balance

  1. In the paragraph that begins “Next watch out for the circular trappings…” you touch on another central point of imbalance…control vs. let go. How much control is too much and when is it OK to let go? Perhaps the best way to look at some of these is in a loop, like the military’s use of the Observe, Orient, Decide, Act loop. How much time is allocated to each area and how do you keep these activities in balance?

  2. Mark,

    Thanks for the comment. By “circular trappings” I mean it is possible to lose margin and balance by spending inappropriate amounts of time looking for the reasons we do not have it to begin with. It goes back to the issue of time. If my time is max’d out, why spend more time trying to figure out why my time is max’d. Do we need to consider and ponder our use of time? Yes. My warning was to beware the trappings of getting caught up in trying to figure out all the details — the paralysis of analysis syndrome.

    Good discussion,
    -eb

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