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Out of Our Minds
Monday, September 27, 2004 12:38 PM
Balance, Schmalance
Kevin Salwen on Passionate Work

The debate that Anita started the other day about balance based on the Fast Company piece got me thinking about how ludicrous the concept of balance is in today's society. At its most basic level, the imagery of balance doesn't work -- the teeter-totter with our work on one side and something else on the other as we strive to keep them in perfectly equal weight.

Beyond that, though, the concept doesn't take into account the way we want to live. Look at the people you know who are happy with their lives (hopefully you include yourself in that list): They at least like (and possibly love) their work; they don't mind doing an occasional cell call in the evening because they know they can leave work early and still be reachable; they talk about their careers a lot with family and friends because it's what partly defines them; they do community-service brochures on their office computers; they do eBay auctions from the office.

You get the point: Our lives are not so much a teeter-totter as a river of work, family, friends, community, faith, whatever. And the streams that feed the river at any one time can be strong or weak depending on where the influences are coming from. And there's nothing at all wrong with that. Just don't box me into the balance metaphor; it doesn't work.


Jory Des Jardins - 9/28/2004 4:16:37 PM
I agree with this. I felt strongly about this article as well and wrote something on my blog. FC said that balance is something that can be achieved over a long period of time, not daily. I agree that we designate periods of our lives to be more about one goal than another, then we focus on something else for a while. But we don't drop all of our relationships while pursuing a career--we shouldn't anyway. And I would be so bold to say we don't want to.

I would add another distinction to this theory of balance: It's like Tom Peters says, it's chaos; and those who embrace it win. We have to fit in workouts, soccer games and time with friends, doing so with some strategy and focus on the most important goals. But juggle we must.
Jeremy - 9/27/2004 7:52:24 PM
Beautifully said -- it's much more complex than balance, with an ebbing and flowing of influences over time. Entrepreneurs are figuring this out because they control their time. Employees know this intuitively but don't control their work time, which often means that their work 'stream' is on full-blast and only they wish they had access to the faucet.


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