Reimagining Balance…

boycott the scales!“Balance”…  A word we all toss around in multiple contexts, and yet I’d wager we spend far too little time actually thinking about.  It’s time to reimagine it.  What’s the first image that comes to mind when you think “balance”?  Scales? Toss it. Real-life balance is far more complicated than that.  And thank goodness – because it can also allow us to integrate and achieve so much more.

Balance is not just about mass or weight – though that’s one component.  It’s not simply about getting things to rest or hang or be steady – though that’s also one component.  Balance is about form and function, understanding the properties of things and how they relate to one another, where the points of strength are and what areas need reinforcement – AND taking into account the surrounding conditions and monitoring for change.

I started practicing yoga about a year ago.  Reflecting on balancing the body into a variety of poses and contortions while still being able to breathe and just “be” is a powerful way to think about balance.  Some things I’ve learned: artful balance requires:

"Flying Pigeon" pose

Note: This is not me! And I have not yet attempted this pose…

  • Imagination
  • Strength
  • Patience
  • Trust
  • Intelligent awareness of how the various parts of the system work
  • Willingness to take risks, to try something that may initially appear as though it would never work
  • Attention to changing conditions
  • Awareness that you can’t hold the same pose forever

 

How often do we think about “balance” in these ways in our day-to-day lives – whether at work, at home, or across all areas of our lives?  It’s so much more than putting things of equal weight on opposite sides of each other.  It’s about recognizing different areas of strength, weight, size, composition – knowing which things can bear more burden for a time, which things can lean on others – and making micro- or macro-adjustments as parts of the system get fatigued or the surrounding conditions change.

So – some questions as you may begin reimagining “balance”…

  • What can you release or let go? Determine if there are things you’re holding tightly that are not serving you well… Perhaps there are things you can let go of, that don’t need to be there at all… Perhaps there are things that are valuable, but belong somewhere else, as part of another equation…
  • What could you ADD into your equation to better maximize the whole or take stress off of some parts? Delegate and empower others to become a more meaningful part of your system… Make an investment in yourself that enhances your well-being and productivity or reduces stress…
  • How can you pay more mindful attention to the conditions around you? Notice reactions from others, levels of engagement, what drives and excites people, where the fatigue and stress is… Realize how and when expectations and needs of others are changing or shifting… Acknowledge the forces in play, and integrate them into your approach…
  • How can you be more agile and responsive to changing conditions? When you notice things changing around you, actively investigate the needed shifts in the system… Think about redefining priorities, shifting the focus, leveraging different strengths…

True balance in real life is not static, it is dynamic.  It is not passive – we don’t set things in balance and leave them to stay that way forever.  It’s active – we experiment and find what works for now, then pay attention to how things change around us and make adjustments. Things are not kept “in balance” indefinitely, they are “balancing” for a time.

So – in what areas of your life has your approach to “balance” gotten static? How is that serving you?  What adjustments can you make to fully involve and leverage all of the pieces you have to work with? How can you maximize the situation?  Reimagine…

 

Core Values – Will Your Anchor Hold?

So one of the things that’s challenging about being a leader…  Wait a second; now that I think about it – one of the things that’s challenging about being a person in community with others is navigating the balance between others’ needs, perspectives, and desires and our own.  How do you hold firm to your own goals, vision, and passion while being open to hearing and valuing others’ perspectives and approaches – and not wind up swaying to every new flavor-of-the-month while leaving people wondering who on earth you are and what you stand for? Continue reading

Wisdom… Choosing Your Battles and Showing Off Your Scars

“Battle scars” have been on my mind a lot lately.  Whether catching my eye in the form of scratches all over my minivan, visual echoes of my injuries past, scraped-kneed offspring, or wounded spirits – I see battle scars all around me.  It has brought me to ponder the wisdom in “choosing our battles,” and all that’s to be gained from showing off those scars. Through the battles and with the scars, we grow in our selves, our roles, and the stories we bring to share. Continue reading

This one’s personal…

I’ve been contemplating (and subsequently avoiding) this post for over 24 hours now… Reflection on another anniversary of the tragic shootings at the university that stole my heart some 25 years ago, in the most amazing town I’ve had the pleasure to live in.

534dbbb6f3c67.imageIt’s been seven years.  This year’s April 15, the weather was eerily similar to the weather on April 16, 2007 – Continue reading

Work-Life… It’s all about the weave…

boycott the scales!I’m trading in the scales for a new metaphor.  Managing all the facets of who I am, my varying interests and commitments, the people who want and need my attention in various arenas, my own needs and interests – is just NOT simply a matter of breaking off a piece here and putting it on this side, and breaking off another piece there for the other side… and keeping it “in balance.” Continue reading

My end of the bargain… Accountability. (?)

Yes, I do it to myself.  AND – I’m the only one who can fix it.  I need to be accountable for being a better steward of my attention; that’s what I’ve learned in the past week. frazzled So, I completed a list – jotted something down every time I noticed my attention had been hijacked.  Here’s what I learned: Continue reading

Priorities are like Play-Dough…

Before you ask, yes – I’ve got kids on the brain.  My latest shift, redefinition, reset, and re-settling of priorities has been driven by my kids.  Specifically, our newest addition: Daniel Stone.

For several weeks I’ve been silently lamenting to myself, behind-the-scenes if you will, about letting this blog slide.  There are plenty of good reasons (aren’t there always?), Continue reading

The real secret to building trust? Hide nothing…

I’ve worked with a lot of different organizations in a variety of different industries… I work with a lot of groups, a lot of leaders… A foundational piece at the root of nearly every challenge?  Trust. One thing everybody always says they need “more” and “better”? Communication.   The two are intimately intertwined – and at the core is transparency. Continue reading