Want to know a word that ironically trips a lot of people up? That word is “balance.” It is such a simple word, but it becomes complicated when you look at its applications.
First, we seek balance in our lives. We want to be good to our friends and spouses, but without balance, we run the risk of smothering that relationship. By the same token, other things might overly consume us. That lack of attention to our spouse or children might be sending a signal that says we just don’t care. When you find a friendship or a marriage that gets it right, you’ll find people who can keep it all in balance.
We want to be good parents, but again, we need to have balance. We can either inhibit the growth of our children by trying to do too much for them, or create serious dysfunction by not being there enough for them. When you find a fully functioning family that gets it right, you’ll find parents who know how to keep it all in balance.
I had the pleasure of spending a day with a close-knit group of friends who seem to have the concept of balance just right. I learned this in the first 90 seconds I spent with them. All I knew was that they all had kids in school together, and because I knew no one in the group, I politely asked if everyone could introduce themselves. I assumed I would be hearing introductions about themselves and a lot about their kids as well. I was wrong.
This group let me know that they operate this way: When they are with their children, (which is what brought them all together in the first place,) they are locked in as parents. But they also get together on a regular basis without their children. This is not something that bothers them in the least bit. As a matter of fact, they refer to these get-togethers as “FWALK-ing,” which stands for “Fun With-Out Kids.” When parents can keep it all in balance, they are happier and better parents.
We seek balance in our business lives as well. We want to be successful in our jobs, but without balance, we run the risk of burning out in our profession. Perhaps even worse, we then run the risk of burning out with our families. Find a person in business who gets it right, and you’ll find someone who balances time spent on the job with time spent at home and knows how to keep it all in balance.
Having seen the casualties of too much business travel, I wrote the book, The Way of the Road Warrior. The book was written for both the road warriors who travel, and the ones who are married to those road warriors. They are the ones at home whose lives must bear the brunt of single spouse parenting. Ironically, I’ve only done one keynote presentation in my career that centers on this topic. It seems most corporations do not want a speaker who will be preaching the dangers of too much work! The irony is that Corporate America would benefit greatly by what they would hear: When employees are not in balance, they run the risk of being destructive to the corporation, and to their families at home. When employees are in balance, they are happier and more productive.
If you ever see this book with my signature in it, I can guarantee that you’ll find something else written above my name. I’ve never signed one book without writing these five words…
“Keep it all in balance.”
Is there a more important lesson in business or in life?