Decide what truly matters to you and LIVE
Do YOU have balance? Do you live to work or work so that you may LIVE? That’s an interesting question for many, and several people that THINK they have balance may be surprised by what they hear when close friends and family members are asked. I was such a neglectful friend and still am sometimes. I now commit to and strive to find balance between all of the things that should matter to me. Not simply work. Perhaps the best quote on balance came from James Patterson in his book “Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas”.
“Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you’re keeping all of them in the air. But one day, you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls — family, health, friends, integrity — are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.
And once you truly understand the lesson of the five balls, you will have beginnings of balance in your life.”
James Patterson, Suzanne’s Diary for Nicholas
Ball #1: Family
I don’t care how poor a man is; if he has family, he’s rich. ~Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford, “Identity Crisis,” M*A*S*H
I do most of my writing, reading, and remote working in my library at home. I have comfortable brown leather chairs, an HP Touchsmart PC, and am surrounding by hundreds of books I have read over the years, dozens of magazines and lots of photos of the people in my life that matter most. My family means the world to me, and I would do just about anything for them. Yet, as many corporate folks tend to do, I have found myself in utter neglect of them from time to time. Travelling for work, staying up at all hours on my PC yet not picking up the phone to call, and being only semi-present when I am actually with them are just some of the ways I have risked damaging this “ball”.
The family – that dear octopus from whose tentacles we never quite escape, nor, in our inmost hearts, ever quite wish to. ~Dodie Smith
Have you neglected those people most strongly in your corner, your family? I reaffirm today my commitment to family, and to always remind those that work for or with me that “family comes first”.
Ball #2: Health
“A man too busy to take care of his health is like a mechanic too busy to take care of his tools.” Spanish Proverb
And how!! It took gaining 20 pounds, seeing my blood pressure steadily rise, and waking up a few too many times with unexplained headaches, body aches, or other manner of ailments to realize I had to slow down.
“So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health.”A. J. Reb Materi
I worked so many hours, traveled, stared at my PC, responded to BlackBerry messages and texts, and was basically connected to work 20 hours a day at least. And I was slowly reducing my lifespan. Period. This summer, for the first time since I was 15, I took a sabbatical of sorts.
I became a Vegan. Yep. Cold turkey, I stopped eating meat, dairy, and anything that did not come from the ground. I posted tons of food photos of my daily meals (Flikr followers can see them) and enjoyed feeling better than I had for years. I became the foursquare “Mayor” of my gym, believe it or not, and targeted averaging 7-8 hours of sleep per night instead of 4-5. And I lost about 15 pounds, almost all of them “fat pounds”.
My change was somewhat drastic and I will admit, cooking three meals a day is not easy when working full-time. But, imagine if you do a little bit every day to better manage your health. Try not to get to the point where you have a medical emergency. Will you pledge to proactively write YOUR health story?
“Every human being is the author of his own health or disease.” Hindu Prince Gautama Siddharta, the founder of Buddhism, 563-483 B.C.
Ball #3: Friends
A friend is one who knows us, but loves us anyway. — Fr. Jerome Cummings
I often think of all of the amazing things my parents taught me over the years. How to be a responsible man, work hard, and respect people. They taught me how to build things and fend for myself. And they taught me the types of people I should avoid because they were bad influences or trouble makers. In many ways, they helped me get better at finding friends. Strangely, what they could not really teach me, and it takes years to get good at, was actually BEING a friend. When you find someone who is good at being a friend, you’ve really been blessed.
Who finds a faithful friend, finds a treasure. — Jewish Saying
My friends know me, not just corporate me, religious me, or party me. They know all of me. My true friends know the good and the bad and they accept all of it (not necessarily liking all of it, but loving me all the same). At the end of a tough day at work, a call or text from a friend that simply says “Thinking of you and hoping you are being good to YOU” means the world.
In my blog post on Thoughts on Relationships from The Shack, I noted that life is full of relationship and the more you embrace people for both who they are and what they uniquely bring to you (and you to them), the richer you will be. THAT is what friends do for you. True friends. Each relationship is uniquely different, and like investments, the more you put into these relationships, the more you can get from them.
Do YOUR friends know how much they mean to you? Commit to calling more even though FaceBook is more convenient. Send a personal note to let someone know what they mean to you. Keep this ball strong, beautiful and intact. When at the end of the road, you may not finish everything you set out to finish career wise, but you’ll only regret the times you missed with friends.
Ball #4: Integrity
“If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-nigh useless.” — Moliere [Jean Baptiste Poquelin] Tartuffe, V, i (1622-1673)
My reputation is incredibly important to me and whether people think me brilliant or not does not matter as much as whether they think I have integrity. I want people to trust me. And because of this, in everything I do, I strive to take the high road, opting for integrity over any element of success that might otherwise come my way. Always knowing that “Trust is like an eraser, it gets smaller and smaller after every mistake.”
“Let no pleasure tempt thee, no profit allure thee, no persuasion move thee, to do anything which thou knowest to be evil; so shalt thou always live jollity; for a good conscience is a continual Christmas.” — Benjamin Franklin
At the end of the day, I love pushing hard to be successful in my career. And I am proud of my career accomplishments to date. As I continue to grow, I am learning about balance and finding that truly I can be even more successful. I am certain now that I truly understand the lesson of the five balls, now I must ensure I live and learn from the lesson.
So, I ask you, do you in fact “have beginnings of balance in your life”? Or are you still trying so hard to keep that rubber ball of work bouncing that you shatter the relationships you have while damaging your health and integrity? FIND BALANCE TODAY!
Be well! Lead On.
Originally published November 2011.
Adam L. Stanley
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“We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”
— Winston Churchill