August 23, 2023
Imagine a see-saw.
Here’s how it works:
Now, if you climb on and straddle the center, you’re “balanced,” right?
Sure, from a physics standpoint.
But will you ever know the feeling of extreme work or life success?
Balance won’t produce those results.
Balance keeps you stuck in an unfulfilling gray zone — a place where you’re always left wanting something because you never really have anything.
And yet, all these BS corporate trainings and business articles promote work-life balance as something we want…and can have.
Here’s what I find from talking with dozens of high-achievers every week:
They might claim a balanced life. And they might tell people everything is “fine.”
But inside, they’re freaking out.
Their pursuit of “balance” is tearing them apart.
On one hand, they’re operating at 10% of their potential in a work context — and receiving 10% of their true worth in return.
On the other hand, their home life is a shell of what they dreamed it to be. This balanced individual can’t go all in on anything, leaving their loved ones desperate for attention.
Do you see how work-life “balance” is a lie?
Balance doesn’t produce what we want it to.
Most of us want to experience meaning, purpose, and impact from our work. We deem it as part of a successful life.
But here’s the reality: significant progress in anything meaningful in life requires extreme time and energy.
Time on one thing means time away from another.
Therefore, in this context, balance is a terrible goal.
This obsession with balance needs to stop.
It’s ripping families apart.
It’s capping your earnings.
It’s making you small and miserable.
The problem with living in the balanced middle is that it prevents you from doing anything at the extremes.
You can’t commit to anything in a big way — work or personal.
So everything gets short-changed. Nothing gets the attention it deserves. You’re always half-assing it.
Rather than living in the middle, we must shift from one end of the see-saw to another. We need to bravely engage the edges.
As Gary Keller says, “magic happens at the extremes.”
However, we can’t live at any one extreme for too long. (Not everyone wants to be Elon.)
The better approach is to stay on one side for a meaningful period and then return to the other.
Keller calls this “counterbalancing.”
Your life season determines which end to focus on.
Sometimes, it’s the work end:
And at other times, it’s the life end:
Counterbalancing gives the illusion of balance…with the results you crave.
Sure, the majority population might be content with the traditional definition of a “balanced” life.
But I’m not speaking to the majority.
You’re reading these words because you’re an extreme minority. You’re taking moonshots for work and life.
Straight up, extraordinary outcomes require extraordinary focus and effort. You can’t avoid this.
However, absorb what the author James Patterson wrote:
"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.”
In building my business and next life chapter while still in corporate, I subconsciously thought they were all rubber balls.
Soon, some felt like they shattered. So I had to step back and start treating work as the only rubber ball (“Tomorrow’s a new day.”).
The question in front of you isn’t actually about balance whatsoever.
It’s actually, “What’s the priority right now? My ONE thing?”
As you answer that question (across days, weeks, and months), you’ll find yourself traversing between extremes — between work and life.
This is counterbalancing.
It’s a new way of operating.
Looking behind the scenes at your heroes’ journeys, you’ll find this is precisely what they did.
There’s no avoiding it.
So stop succumbing to the work-life balance lie.
Live life at the extremes — with deep awareness, brave focus, and the smarts to pivot.
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