There were many disturbing images and themes in Stephen King’s The Shining. The one that stuck with me most was the concept of becoming dull and irrelevant if you allow yourself to focus on one area of your life too much.
And what is the area we all tend to over emphasize? Work. That’s the one that pays the bills, offers advancement (sometimes) and grants fulfillment (again, sometimes). But if Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson’s character in the Shining) reveals anything, its truly that balance in our lives is needed to stay out of the loony bin.
Personally, I used to have a pretty good (and easily maintained) work/life balance. My job was fun and challenging, but rarely was there a time when I had to take work home. Part of that was through conscience effort, part of it was just the nature of the role.
Today, my idea and ability to maintain a balance between work and personal life has gotten a little skewed. As many of you know, a few months ago I reduced my responsibilities at my full time job to pursue two independent endeavors: a website business my wife and I started a few years ago (www.stampingschool.com) as well as my own independent training and consulting business. So now, unless I am out with a client (or happen to be writing a blog post on my iPhone sitting next to a lake – like now) most of my work occurs at home.
What this transition has really shown me is the true need for balance in ones life. Now that I don’t have a commute or any of the distractions of an away-from-home job, I am now free to work 24 hours a day – and no one is going to stop me… except me (and occasionally my wife!)
I now have to actively seek out opportunities and make deliberate decisions to change scenery, to get a new perspective or to just stop working. I’ve gotten in the habit of getting up early and going for a long ride on my bike, usually stopping for a few minutes at a local park or lake for a little breather. Since I will likely be inside on a computer for a good portion of the rest of the day, this gives me my nature and activity fix, as well as a change of scenery. Then the rest of the day I am not going stir crazy wondering when I can go outside for a few minutes.
So how does my personal story of finding balance impact you? That’s partly for you to decide. What I will say is that when it comes to leadership, balance is a topic that comes up A LOT. Over the last few years, I would say that it has come up in just about every class I’ve taught or discussion I’ve had with other leaders.
Leaders need to balance your employees need for information with your need to keep certain things confidential. You need to balance the amount of time you spend on administrative tasks vs. interacting with and guiding your teams. You need to balance outgoing expenses vs. incoming revenue. And the list goes on…
The first step is to recognize the need for balance, then figure out if you have it. If you have ever felt like breaking through a door with an axe, you may not have the balance you seek.
Thanks for reading!