Finding Balance

We work hard and are busier than we’ve ever been. Our hard work is often something worn as a badge of honor. Pay attention to the answers you get when you ask a colleague or friend, “How’s it going?” You are likely to get one of two responses: either a quick “Good,” (because that’s the fastest answer to give to keep moving on) or you’ll get some sort of “busy” answer like “Keeping busy,” “Got a lot going on,” “Hanging in there,” etc.

I recently read about a testimony given at a congressional panel in 1967 that predicted that by 1985 Americans would be working just 22 hours per week and would be able to retire at the age of 38 due to advances in technology. Well, technology did advance, probably beyond their wildest imaginations, but instead of working less, we’re working more than ever. [1]

While we laud busyness, most of us also realize the importance and value of balance. At least at an intellectual level, we get that there are limits and that we are ultimately more productive and effective if we can find balance in our lives. I don’t need to convince you that stress causes health issues; there are thousands of articles and books on that topic. The challenge, at a practical level, is that we are fighting a natural instinct to do more and more. How do we combat that instinct to find proper balance?

When we talk about balance, it’s often considered a trade-off – like a scale where one side can only go up if the other side goes down. Balance in the work and rest context, traditionally referred to as work-life balance, could use a healthier comparison. Instead of a scale, think of two halves of a ball that can be inflated separately. If one half is either over or under- inflated, the overall performance of the ball is going to be greatly impacted. In the same way, we need to realize that only when we balance both our work health and our life health can we maximize our performance.

I recently heard someone use the phrase “feisty intentionality.” I think that’s an apt description of how we need to approach balance. We need feisty intentionality to say no to commitments that will cause us to go out of balance. We need feisty intentionality to set boundaries around when we will work and when we will be present with our families or with other non-work obligations.

How is your balance? Could you more effectively serve those around you by modeling better balance? If your answer is yes, I encourage you to take a “feisty intentionality” approach and make the changes necessary in your life – for yourself, your team, your business, and those you love.


Mike Meyers, Chief Information Officer