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*


What balance are you trying to achieve?

An interesting question was posed the other day on Twitter – what do you do that makes work/life balance work for you?

Hmm. I’m going to address this with a non-standard issue response.

What is balance? How do we achieve balance? How do we maintain that balance? How do we evaluate if we are balanced? As a professional, I would suggest these are key questions you have to be able to answer.

As an individual who also believes in the human spirit I think there are other questions to consider. What happens when balance is knocked off course? Who controls that balance? Where is your power? Do you understand you have power?

These are the questions you should be searching to answer.

Work/life balance is an illusion. It is temporary and it is flawed. You have the power and the capacity to determine what balance you have. No-one can determine this for you. Your employer has no control over you. You have not, and indeed have no way of, signed your soul to the devil. The effort you put in is the effort you perceive you need to exercise. No amount of recognition nor reward will compensate this effort. It is an individual effort, that only you are accountable for.

No-one can tell you what it is the best way to achieve the balance you are searching for. Only you understand what it means to have balance. I hold the Dalai Lama in high regard as a spiritual being. I don’t listen to a word he says as no matter how sage the advice, or how insightful it may be, unless I act on it, it means nothing. You mean nothing. Your work means nothing. Your balance is what you have created it to be.

Your perception that you need to improve this, is because your perception is that others are enjoying their life. This is flawed. Others are not. They face daily struggles and daily battles that they fight. You do not see these as they have learned how not to show these. Their balance is as temporary as is yours.

What is important today, will not be important tomorrow. The balance I have right now, as of this moment, is there because of what I deem it to be. Tomorrow my focus will change and the world will change. My balance will need re-addressing and I will again need to question what this means.

You have the power. Your power is in your control. If you feel as if you are being directed away from your power, you need to understand that you gave it away. No-one can take it. You offer it, and it is used. If you aren’t in control of your power how do you expect to be in control of your balance?

So. What balance are you trying to achieve?

The nature of this post was inspired by a post written by TheHRD in his post on the secret of happiness.

>What I don’t want to miss

>This post is more personal than others I’ve put previously. Mostly this is due to the impending birth of my third child. We have twin boys who will soon be 3 and are now at the age where they are trying to learn how to be independent. It’s really cool to see them develop. Over the last few weeks I’ve been doing odd bits of DIY and after seeing what I was doing they picked up their own tools (yes, toy tools) and start DIYing too. Then though, they realised that the toy tools don’t do what Dad is doing and need the real tools. Uh oh. Delving deep into the toolbox to find a screwdriver and hammer and do what Dad did.

It’s also very frustrating to see them be so damned independent. They quickly learned that the Iron Man bluray dvd goes into the bluray player and you need a particular remote for that to work. And so they go to it! The dvd is now broken. (“Daddy new? Shop new?”) Or they see that Mum is cooking and she’s stirring with that thing sticking out of that thing. I can do the stirring too cos it seems easy enough. Let me pull this chair close to the cooker and see how it goes. AAgh!!

And then I think about the newborn about to arrive. The baby will be tiny and fragile and delicate. The boys will want to know why there’s another child taking our attention away from them. And the wife’s and my attention will be drawn away because Baby will need caring for. There will be many late night awakenings, lots of nappy changes and for the first 6 months not a lot of interaction. But then Baby will grow like the twins. And the boys will learn to take care of Baby.

And that’s where family life starts to really form and take shape. Sure it takes time and life gets in the way. But that’s what I don’t want to miss.

So my message here is simple. Work is important. You have to bring in the money so you can give your family what they need and what they want. The responsibilities of family life are the most life important. Don’t make excuses for not being with the family. Don’t make excuses for not leaving work on time. Don’t make excuses for not having fun time with the family.

Find that work-life balance. Find that time to have fun with them. Find time to see what new thing they’re trying to do. That’s what I don’t want to miss.