Study best seller lists of past few years and you'll notice titles that range from Peter Lynch's "Beating Street" to Thomas Moore's "Care of Soul: How to Find Depth and Sacredness in Everyday Life." This juxtaposition captures dilemma facing all of us in business world. How does one swim with sharks, squeeze margins of an angst-filled financial world, and still lead a life of wholeness in spirit, mind and body?
Nor is this a new question. Marsilio Ficino's 15th Century treatise, "The Book of Life," sought to help Medicis and their merchant counterparts create a renaissance of spirit amid draining demands of commerce and a new creature called capitalism.
Whether a Renaissance banker or CEO of a high tech conglomerate, whether a guild master of stonework or a manager of information services, issue is still one of balance.
But balance is not an equal measure of work, love, prayer and play. Nor is it a state that can be achieved and frozen in form for all time. Rather, this amorphous thing called "balance" is an on-going, deliberate set of decisions that make journey of life much like metaphor of sailing.
Consider single person sailboat. When there is much wind, little boat appears off balance, moving forward at an angle, sails filled to bursting and sailor leaning back over craft, with one hand on sheet and toes hooked under railing. What allows sailor to stay in boat is that he is connected to all important parts of that craft. When wind shifts, so too must sailor.
Life is also like that. We give ourselves tremendous mental stress when we think that life must balance. Having a different image allows us to see where we might be out of control.
Briefly, there will always be competing and unequal demands upon our time ... much like tug of tiller or push of wind. Depending upon course we have chosen for ourselves, we respond to these demands. We might decide to change direction, seek harbor, or give full rein to beating waves and blustery wind. The quality of these decisions depends upon direction of our sailboat, prevailing winds, depth of water, and need for overhaul and repair.
Direction refers to goals, created by our values, which we have established. The wind and depth of water represent those people and events, outside our control, which make demands upon our time. Lastly, overhaul and repair stands for need to cease and desist, to nurture and renew our physical and spiritual self, and to re-examine course we are sailing.
If we consider sailing as a metaphor for "balance" we all seek along life's journey, then what is needed are navigational aids. What could help all of us on such a journey is a process, a formula, whereby we might take stock of our decisions, weighing them against our personal values, goals, and physical requirements. Since we are all bound by same relentless 24-hour day, we would be best served by looking at not how much we can cram into blocks called "time", but how wisely do we choose what we put into our finite day.
Step 1: Answer these questions to help you determine what is of value to you. Value has more to do with who you are and how you live your life, not what you have achieved. For example, you might value life-long learning, financial security, service to others, loving relationships, and spiritual growth. Once you have identified what is of value, you have a screen with which to filter through goals and activities.
One of best ways to identify values is to create an imaginary sounding board composed of 4-5 people whom you value and admire and who, in turn, sincerely respect and like you. If each one were to give eulogy, what type of person would they say you were and why. What values arose? What goals or activities supported those values? Isolate those values and write them down. You might even be able to rank order values.
Step 2: For period of one week, keep a pad of paper handy and make a note of every task you perform and what role you play. For example, my roles are professional speaker, writer, wife, mother, friend, office worker, manager, daughter, sister, student, volunteer, and just plain ME. The latter refers to a role that nurtures and cares for me, not necessarily anyone else. Amazingly, I've discovered that every task is related to a role and that almost all tasks come in 15 minute increments.
Step 3: On a scale from minus 5 to plus 5, rate these roles and accompanying tasks according to enjoyment and personal value. In looking at tasks of a week, interesting discoveries arise.