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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.

“Weigh Scale” by haven’t the slightest via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]


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.

“Balance” by Hans Splinter via Flickr [CC BY-ND 2.0]
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?

[Try “Nowhere.”]


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.





“Tree butcher at work” by Stuart Grot via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Not good.


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?

“Balance” via Flickr by Scott Robinson [CC BY 2.0]
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?


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.

“Balance” by Dave Soldano via Flickr [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]
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).

“Inevitable Egg Balance” by Clint Budd via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]
Boldt even has a website, “” that you might want to check out.

Here’s a poem:


I am longing to soar

To fly away from all

The endless to-ing and fro-ing,

The ebb and flow of

Tic-toc-tic-toc-ticking ordinary.

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.



Didja forget?

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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Pono is a Hawaiian word that is usually translated as “righteousness.”  It is a bit more than that.  It is a way of walking through the world that is centered and balanced.   It’s the way a kanaka makua, a mature person, walks.

Mary Kawena Puku’i, one of our most beloved elders and an exemplary example of a kanaka makua, worked with Western scholars to document and preserve the nuances of Hawaiian thought.  Here’s how she described such a person:  “A kanaka makua thinks.  He doesn’t jump into things.…He takes responsibility.…Controls temper…Is not scatterbrained.…Realizes that anger can cause hihia (an escalation of ill-feeling that turns a two-person argument into a family feud).… Sensible.”

A cool head is just half of the equation; it has to be balanced with a warm heart.  For as Puku’i explains, “A kanaka makua is kind.  He is thoughtful…senses the feelings of others.”

The concept was a developmental goal for Hawaiians.  It was used as a measuring stick for behavior and a foundation for what Hawaiians consider to be a proper human being.  It is, I am thinking, a good one to emulate.

And here’s another poem….


Trying to get to pono

is supposed to be easy….


Everybody weighs in,

making bulleted lists of all their wants that they call needs,

their expectations of how it’s all supposed to be —

(the world according to this one or that one) —

all of them frantically, urgently generating more and more puzzle pieces

that do not fit together,

no matter which way you turn them,

no matter how you try to jam them together.

And here I am, stuck in the middle of

this mass of push-and-shove,

everybody jockeying for some position,

looking for even the slightest advantage, the tiniest win….

everybody wailing, thinking some prize is slipping away

out of this one’s grasp or that one’s clutch,

playing tug-of-war with me as the rope.

everybody working up into some sort of rage or other,

spazzing ’bout the collapse of some now-broken world

they had built up in their heads that did not come to pass.

Time for a Cinderella-sister action, I suppose:

chopping off a little here,

slicing down a nubbin there,

trying to get some big ole luau foot to fit into

another teeny crystal slipper.

Trying to get to pono has got me thinking deep:

’bout how all the yammer about “rights”

don’t carry you to Right and Real and True,

’bout how the blather about everybody else’s “wrongs”

just sucks you into a vortex of oughta-shoulda dreck

that oozes up to inundate the Beauty and the Blessings

in a flood of me-me-me,

’bout how the bustle and the noise

increases exponentially as everybody hauls out everything

(including the old kitchen sink)

and tosses them in a pile in the middle of the road,

blocking through-traffic and causing gridlock –

a traffic jam of epic proportions.

Me, I figure I’m just the designated cop

assigned to stand on this traffic island in the middle of this intersection,

waving my arms around,

trying to get the flow moving again

so all these idiot-people can get home.

Ah, well…

since I’m stuck out here anyhow,

I might as well dance….


by Netta Kanoho

picture credit:   PRAYER by John Morgan via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]

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