Here’s another Un-Seeing Exercise.
It’s a well-worn cliché. We have all been told (and told ourselves and told each other) that we need to find our balance between life and work.
[Cue the chorus of moans and groans, guys.]
Comes now this YouTube video of a 2017 TEDxGustavusAdolphusCollege talk featuring studio503 founder and CEO Michael Walters, “The Fallacy of Work/Life Balance.”
Michael Walters is the head guy of a company that helps other businesses — big and small — all over the world do their business better.
His company’s Team Studio503 helps these businesses develop systems that help the corporations and smaller companies manage the processes that take them from the production of a product to its point of sale.
This is called “Strategic Account Management” (SAM) and studio503 is really good at it.
The TEDxTalk video of Walters’ presentation is a mind-boggle. Walters takes the analogy about life and work being a balance and he breaks it down.
In order to make a balance, you need a scale – a beam and a fulcrum. When you’re measuring heavy things, the scale has to be a pretty sturdy thing.
THE PROBLEM WITH BALANCING IT ALL
In another post, I’ve explored the difficulties of finding your own balance while trying to stand like that.
Click here for that:
However, in this video, Walters does a better job. He points out the fatal flaw in putting your focus on work/life balance: Balance scales have to stand in one place. They do not move; they are not supposed to.
In Walters’ analogy, YOU are the balance scale.
What that tells me is that when you try to solve your problem of major Life Overwhelm by focusing on balance, the first requirement is to just stand (or hang) there fixedly.
And where are you standing? You are standing in Suck.
You are standing very firmly in Suck and while you fool around with the balance mind-games, you have to STAY stuck in Suck.
Do you see where this is taking us?
THE TROUBLE WITH “SEPARATE”
The other interesting thing about the balance mindset is that you absolutely need to have two things to balance. There can be no “balance” if there is only one thing.
A focus on the work-life balance means that you have to separate work from all the rest of your life and turn them into unconnected, separated things.
The key thing here is the word “separate.” In Real Life, there is no “separate.” Your work and all the rest of your life are all interconnected.
You’ve got just as many interconnected parts as a tree. Chopping limbs off a tree willy-nilly can make for really ugly trees. Chopping parts off YOU mostly leads to a lot of pain and suffering.
WORKING WITH THE INTERCONNECTEDNESS OF YOU
So, what happens if you accept that your whole life – work included – is one whole thing?
What happens if you choose to see and own all of the parts of your life, knowing that how you choose to move through one part of your life just naturally affects all of your life?
Well, Walters points out four benefits that accrue to you if you dump the balance mindset.
- You get Grace. Instead of moving all hurky-jerky awkward or turning robotic, you flow through life like a dancer or gymnast.
Your move facilitates your next move and then the next more easily and it all becomes a grand choreography as you realize your own purposes and help others towards their own.
There’s less stressing over the all of everything. You’re too busy immersed in the living of your life to spend much time analyzing it all into the ground and exhausting yourself tweaking every little part of it, trying to get it “right.”
Other people are likely to find it beneficial being around you. (Have you ever noticed how soothing it is to be around someone who’s calm and together?)
The bonus to that last is that because they’re relaxed around you, you won’t have to keep watching these other people to make sure the parts that keep flying off them don’t whack you upside the head and make you dizzy.
- You get Awareness. Just accepting and knowing that everything is interconnected, you can see how any choice you might make will affect the other parts of life and the world around you.
Your awareness of the different choices you can make and how each option might affect the rest of your life has got to be a most valuable asset. With that awareness and knowing what your purposes are, you get to be in control. You can actually choose how you are going to move next.
- You get Momentum. If everything in your life is interconnected, then making a move in one part of your life that pushes that part forward can help or hinder how everything else in your life rolls along as well.
Choosing and then making whatever move works for you starts the ball rolling – and it goes. Once it’s going, it keeps on going (and so do you) in the direction in which you push the durned thing and, of course, always factoring in stuff like roadblocks, potholes and detours.
Walters explains the momentum thing very well using a giant ball filled with smaller ones. You can imagine how pushing the big ball around means that it takes all the littler ones inside it in the same direction.
If you’re no longer focused on standing still and achieving balance, then you get to “play ball.”
All you have to do is take one step. Then you take another step, and so on.
- You get Empowerment. All the other stuff – grace, awareness, and momentum – builds up to giving you the space and the time you need to make the moves you want to make.
That’s called “empowerment.”
How cool is that?
HOW TO LEARN TO DANCE
One idea and one TEDTalk video is not going to help you figure out how to get from stuck to dancing in the flow. Fortunately, a whole bunch of wise guys down through the ages have worked on this concept of the interconnectedness of life.
One book you might want to tap into is Laurence G. Boldt’s THE TAO OF ABUNDANCE: Eight Ancient Principles for Abundant Living. My own copy of the book is a lot shopworn. I’ve had it since it was published in 1999.
It includes all kinds of information about ancient wisdoms as well as exercises to stretch your mind and to help you understand how to see the world and yourself as one whole thing that’s “more than the sum of its parts” (as that old Greek wise-guy Aristotle famously said).
Boldt is a career consultant and lifetime student of Eastern philosophies. He’s written a bunch of books that help people apply the insights he’s gained from his studies to the everyday world and to the building of dreams.
His other offerings are ZEN AND THE ART OF MAKING A LIVING: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design (1993), HOW TO FIND THE WORK YOU LOVE (1996), ZEN SOUP (1997) and HOW TO BE, DO AND HAVE ANYTHING: A Practical Guide to Creative Empowerment (2001).
Boldt even has a website, “EmpowerYOU.com” that you might want to check out.
Here’s a poem:
DIALOGUE BETWEEN INNER SELVES
I am longing to soar
To fly away from all
The endless to-ing and fro-ing,
The ebb and flow of
I am yearning for open sky
Over beauteous dreamscapes of glories.
But, here I am instead,
Through the mud and the blood and the beer.
You gave UP beer!
I am wanting to escape
From toiling after spoils,
All the posturing and posing,
All the climbing,
All the striving….
Ya know, I have to wonder:
Why do they call what you win “spoils”?
That doesn’t sound too enticing!
I am dreaming of a reprieve
From all the slings and arrows
Of the world,
The endless wants and needs
That push at me are….
This is kinda dumb.
It really seems to me
That if you’re gonna walk
Then you should just get on with it.
What the heck is with all this talk-talk-talking?
Moaning and groaning ‘bout
How it is REALLY ha-a-ard
And how it just ain’t any kind of fair
Don’t get you there.
I am needing….
What you really need, babe,
Is to quit’cher whining….
Can we go now?
By Netta Kanoho
Header photo credit: “Balancing” by Ikhlasul Amal via Flickr [CC BY-NC 2.0]
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