Balance is as balance does

I’ve had cause to reflect a lot lately.

I look around me and I hear conversations. Some are laughing. Some are lamenting. Some are distressed and some are enthused.

I try to be attuned to what’s happening in the world of work for others. My own work is not without its insights, yet I often find it so much more interesting to hear what else is happening out there.

And through it all, I try to understand – what balance have you achieved?

Sometimes in life, shit gets thrown our way and it sticks for a bloody long time. Yet people perservere and live and fight and make things happen.

Sometimes in life, things are really good and we coast on the good feelings enjoying that high point.

I wonder – what does balance look like?

Some call it flow, some call it balance, some call it mindful, whatever it is, it makes me curious.

It makes me curious about why I need to worry about balance? Life happens, and sometimes life is completely off balance and yet it persists.

Why do I need balance? What does it help me with?

Resilience. That’s what.

When I’m resilient I stay healthy. When I’m resilient I move forwards. When I’m resilient I don’t stay static. When I’m resilient I strive.

This is our challenge. This is our purpose. If I am resilient, I will achieve.

In organisations, we don’t care about resilience. We care about results. We often don’t care about how those results are achieved. We say we care, but we don’t really.

Flexible hours, benefits, credit unions, working from home, these things don’t build resilience. They are just useful things to help employees be flexible.

Coaching, team understanding, healthy debates, open conversations, knowledge sharing, open information, collaboration. These things build resilience. When we have the opportunity to be included, that’s where resilience gets built because by virtue of the method, we build a support network.

Balance, then, becomes a result of the support we have.

*dons boxing gear and ventures back into the ring*

Disruption, balance, and equilibrium

This week I head into super-blogging mode at the HRD event held by the CIPD. I need to get those muscles going, so make an offering today.

We all amble and fumble through life wanting to achieve certain things. Sometimes we have a clear idea of what these things are, and sometimes we don’t. It’s a proven methodology to set goals that are SMART and how it can help focus the mind. What had also been proven is the need to balance your goals so that you don’t push yourself beyond your capabilities, abilities, or competence. I may have a desire to fly a fighter jet, and I could set a clear goal to get there, but I am keenly aware I may never be able to do this. The best I may have to accept is being a passenger.

Through positive psychology, I advocate carrying out daily and regular activities that enable you to be your best. Through concerted and disciplined efforts, we can increase our well-being and lasting sense of happiness. I think that’s important, and is available to everyone. I want people to thrive, and this is why I do the work I do. People at work have no less opportunity for living a vibrant life, than those who have money to spare and the time to reflect on such things.

For some of us, we even think about our own self-awareness. That is, I understand how to take on information about how I am acting, and how this impacts others. With this understanding I am able to moderate my behaviour (if I choose to), and effect change. This is what it means to be self-aware. Not all of us have the capacity for this, and even few of us see this as a thing to do.

It’s one of the hardest things to help people understand on courses or workshops. There are good ways to help make things happen, or you can beat the drum to the same beat you always have. If you want to change, it means disruption. Something in you needs to be disrupted. The status quo isn’t acceptable. I’m not talking about organisational change or commercial imperatives. I’m talking about the person reading this. The person listening. The person hearing. Something in you needs to be upset. Whatever balance you think you had needs to be disrupted. It needs to be disrupted because you have a desire to be different, but are not sure what this looks like.

One of the absolutes in life is uncertainty. We have no idea what tomorrow holds – in many cases we don’t even know what happened yesterday. That uncertainty causes us to experience happiness and sadness in equal measure, as we choose to see it. That uncertainty, counter-intuitively, provides us with balance.

This balance we have in our lives, everything hinges on this. I choose to work the hours I do. My contract may stipulate it, but I choose to be part of a company where I can work the hours suitable for me. I choose to exert my efforts to the capacity I want to. Whether I am engaged or not is irrelevant. If I want to be productive, I will be. I choose to spend time with family as I see best. No one can influence that but me. I choose to socialise in ways important to me. Regardless of others expectations or desires, I do this my way.

When we are confronted with something that causes us to be disrupted, that balance is thrown off. Our equilibrium needs to be re-calibrated. This is why I do the work I do – and why I connect so keenly with others through the likes of Twitter and this blog. We are expert at causing that equilibrium to be disrupted so you review that balance. I design solutions and interventions that help to regain that balance for a period of time. Key to this, though, is that this balance is only ever temporary. Because, as humans, life is never stable. That uncertainty is always rearing its head.

Call it flow, call it balance, call it life – it amounts to the same thing. I have this sense of life based on what I choose to do.

What do you choose to do?