Each time I take my kids to the circus, I observe the tightrope walkers as they slowly make their way across the tightrope doing flips and jumps, and I can’t help but muse that I do that every day. Sure, I’m not 300 feet off the ground with only a net separating me from a hard crash landing – and good thing too because I’m afraid of heights. But we do all walk that tightrope on a daily basis, trying to maintain balance.
I’m a firm believer that balance is a key ingredient, not only to a happy life, but also a successful life. While I say I’m a firm believer, I struggle to live what I preach. Much like Pavlov’s dog, I’ve been conditioned to believe that the harder I work, the more obsessed I am and the more I sacrifice personally, the more successful I will be. Try getting someone like me to say no. It’s an impossible feat – and a dangerous trait when someone realizes my inability. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not advocating slacking. In fact, each day I drill into my children that they need to work hard and do their best at everything. I think it’s good to have high expectations. At the same time, I’m beginning to realize that with high expectations come difficult decisions. One cannot be a jack-of-all-trades as well as a master of all trades. Therefore, it’s necessary to know your strengths and core competencies and focus on being the very best in that area. You need to prioritize and decide what needs to be top notch and what can settle for less than perfect. And you need to find a way to say “no” — sometimes.
Most of all though, I believe you need to find time for yourself – to maintain balance in body, mind and spirit. If you’re like me, you put time to do what you want or need to do at the bottom of the list. That might include time to exercise, take a vacation, a long overdue massage, or just a night to relax on the couch. But all those are important to business success as well. Yes. I said business success. Because, though I haven’t learned to practice what I preach yet, I do believe that taking the time for yourself, to exercise, unwind and de-stress, means you’ll be that much more productive at work and the product you put out will be top notch.
As managers, we need to stop measuring the value of employees by the hours they put in at work, and rather by the quality of the work they complete and the contribution they make to the culture of our offices. In addition, you and your employees should love what you do and be having fun every day. If you’re not, make changes or find something else to do. Life is too short and you spend too much time at work to be unhappy. No one said work needed to be a prison of seriousness and stone faces. Make it fun. The lighthearted practical joke. The company events. The time to chat and build relationships with your employees. This all contributes to happiness and positive mental health and will ensure you a loyal employee.
Okay. I admit, I often lose balance myself. As a matter of fact, writing this blog has inspired me to give one of my good friends a call. His consulting business includes balance as one of its core values. Perhaps he can share a bit of advice for me. Can you? What tips do you have for maintaining balance in a fast-paced society?