Taking Steps Toward Leadership

How many people want perfect balance in their lives?  Everyone?  They want the money to come in to benefit themselves and their families, but they don’t want to be so mired in their work that they can’t enjoy their families.  They want to be fair to everyone, but some need more help than others so they try to balance the amount of time they spend with those on their teams.  Each parent wants to love all their children the same, but the kids never schedule their triumphs and defeats for convenient times.  You want that balance where you have enough time with the people that need you and want you, but you also need that time for yourself to grow and replenish.  Balance in time, emotion, effort, priorities is so important.

Are you familiar with the time keeping machine known as the metronome?    File:Wittner metronome.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

I know there are electronic ones now, but this is what I want to use to  bring the word “balance” into better focus.  When the metronome is perfectly balanced, it doesn’t tick.  Unless you move the arm to a place of unbalance, it just sits there.  Once you move it, it strives to go to the midpoint where it is balanced but will go to the other side to “tick” and then return to the original side to “tock.”  It keeps a steady beat by going from unbalanced on one side to unbalanced on the other side:  tick, tock, tick, tock as long as it is wound up.  If the machine itself is sitting on a surface that isn’t completely level, it limps.  It sounds more like a heart beat than a steady beat:  tick-tock, tick-tock.  If it is really not level, it sticks at “tick!”

Now look at a pendulum clock.  It keeps time because the pendulum goes from side to side in a steady rhythm.  If it is in perfect balance, you have no idea what time it is.  The pendulum has to be out of balance to start its motion.  You can get into all sorts of mathematical equations that show how the movement of the pendulum from it’s highest point to the mid point gathers energy due to acceleration factors related to gravity which gives it momentum to go past the mid point to a point on the other side that is approximately the same distance from the mid point as the starting point was.  But that’s physics and math.  The point is, unless the pendulum on the clock is nudged out of balance, the clock doesn’t keep time, and unless the pendulum on the metronome is nudged out of balance, it cannot keep a beat.

Think of the times that you physically need to balance.  Starting out, you balance on your butt when you learn to sit.  It takes many tiny adjustments in the large muscles to maintain a balance (especially when your head is so big!) and you fall down a lot.  Eventually, you are able to sit without 1000 pillows surrounding you.  You learn to stand the same way, refining your muscle coordination so that you do not fall.  But until you are able to manipulate your body to purposely upset your balance, you cannot walk.  When you run, you propel yourself forward and there are times when neither foot is actually touching the ground.  Isn’t that falling?  In other words, when you run, it is a fall and a catch for every step.  Falling would be the opposite of balance wouldn’t it?  You can balance on one foot or the other, but you can’t balance on NO feet.  How about riding a bike?  If you are completely in balance on your bike, you are coasting or you are stationary.  When you pedal, you are changing your center of balance every time you exert pressure on the pedals.  You are managing not only how you balance, but prioritizing which foot to balance on every time you push a pedal.  Unless you purposely nudge yourself out of perfect balance, you cannot ride your bike, you can only coast or sit.

People who attain perfect balance in their lives aren’t moving.  How does this relate to Leadership?  (Finally she gets to the point!!!!)  When you’re building a business, when you’re building a division or an educational program or a family, being in perfect balance is the opposite of what you want.  In order to grow, and move and get better, you have to nudge yourself out of balance, and nudge the members of your team out of balance too.  For instance, when you’re building your business and beginning to build your wealth, you may be accused of abandoning (they always use disaster type words) your family because you missed little Suzzy’s 6 month birthday party.  Once the business is built, and you have revenue streams coming in from all different directions, you might be accused of neglecting your business because you are going to Suzzy’s daughter’s 6 month birthday party.  The answer to these accusations is, “Yes, and…?”  The pendulum doesn’t only swing one way.  You aim for the middle ground, but if you swing past it, that’s OK because it means you’re growing and learning.  Don’t beat yourself up for being out of balance then; life is MEANT to be lived out of balance.

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