Rethinking Balance

Karl R. LaPan President & CEO, The NIIC

It seems nowadays everyone is trying to find balance in their life. There’s a whole cottage industry built on self-help books on the topic, after all. I wonder if we should consider a different perspective when it comes to juggling all of life’s demands. Think about achieving personal and professional satisfaction over a lifetime instead of balance in any given moment.

I’m a firm believer that you must love what you do, and do what you love—and the rest will follow. Those who live by this will be successful and content, even when life feels off kilter.

In his book, OFF Balance, Matthew Kelly, offers three principles on how best to live to achieve higher levels of personal and professional satisfaction. These principles are: (1) each of us is on this planet to become the best-version-of-yourself (and as Matthew reminds us, to do so requires the real work of self-discovery); (2) virtue is the ‘ultimate organizing principle’ (and as Matthew states, virtue is the essence of excellence in both life and business); and (3) self-control is ‘central to the best way to live’ (and as Matthew has reflected there is no success without the ability to delay gratification). Note: There was an online assessment at Floyd Consulting, but it is currently not available, so purchase the book and take the satisfaction assessment on pages 48-59 of the book to get a baseline measurement.

If I’m being honest, I love to spend time outside of traditional work hours working to build The NIIC and its brand. It’s because I love the people who work hard to build and sustain the organization and the things for which The NIIC stands. In other words, I don’t seek out “balance” in the traditional sense. I find the idea of limiting the time I spend each week helping the organization grow, for the sake of following some prescribed formula, limiting and stifling. I seek, what Matthew Kelly, states is the real goal, living your life with high levels of personal and professional satisfaction.

I am not the first person to come to this conclusion. In Malcom Gladwell’s book Blink,he describes what he calls a “state of flow.” This is the ideal state for maximum productivity – where you are energized, and fully present. When you’re in that zone, the last thing on your mind is balance. Engagement is the buzz word today. We want client engagement and employee engagement in the workplace. Why? Because people are happier, more productive and live better when it is evident and present in the workplace.

Flow is when you’re the most passionate, productive, and successful version of yourself you can be. And it’s fun! If you’re spending less than half of your time in your state of flow, I challenge you to reconsider how you can allocate your time to better achieve it – is it saying – no – more? Is it delegating more? Or is it something else? I think the underlying issue most people grapple with when seeking balance is being more intentional about how they spend their time. If something doesn’t serve you, then it might be time to re-evaluate the nature or mix of your work.

However, if you find great meaning and fulfillment in something, that is a true gift. Relish in it and you just might find that choosing “satisfaction” over balance is the preferred answer. So, how satisfied are you? And more importantly, if you not highly satisfied, what are you doing about it?


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