This week I chose to look at the idea of "Balance" vs. "Satisfaction"
in life. The inspiration for this came from a book I'm reading right now, called "Off Balance" by Matthew Kelly.
Having been actively involved in both personal and community
development for almost 6 years now, one of the contast issues
that comes up in conversation is how do we, as young people who want to create positive change in the world, create balance in our lives. How do we have everything?
The truth is, we don't and we can't.
We can't have everything. At any given time, when you make one choice, you're giving up another.
A while ago, I wrote an article for Sojo on balance. In the article I
talked about making small adjustments every day in order to
keep ourselves on top of things. Those tiny adjustments to our circumstances is what keeps us from falling over.
I still think that's true. But I want to add to that based on what
I've been reading and learning lately.
Having balance in our lives is great. It's nice when we can
clearly separate our work from our social lives or when we can feel
as though we're getting enough rest and exercise while at the
same time rocking it in our jobs.
But balance can also be kind of boring.
Rather than choosing "balance" as my goal, I'm shifting my
focus and choosing satisfaction.
When I stop and reﬂect on what brings me satisfaction, very
little of that has to do with having a balanced lifestyle. I love
working late into the night from time to time, in order to be able
to have a really well-done presentation. I love working hard some
weeks so that I can take time off to spend with my friends and
For me, satisfaction doesn't come from having a balanced life. I'd
say that my life, at this point, is anything but balanced. What
I'm ﬁnding though, is that my satisfaction comes from being
able to put all of my passion and energy into the people and the
things that I love. Being able to give myself to a project fully, to
have meaningful conversations with others and, as I dive into
fatherhood, to be able to give myself fully to my family when I
can, is what creates satisfaction.
I sat down earlier this week and I made a list of the Top 5 things
that bring satisfaction into my life. It turns out, "balance"
wasn't even near making the list.
If you were to sit down and do the same, what would ﬁnd? What
brings you satisfaction? Are you doing what you need to do in
order to bring that into your life regularly?
Each Sunday, as I sit down to set myself for the upcoming week, I choose one leadership quality that I want to focus on that week; one quality that I believe makes a great leader and one that I can practice as the week goes on.
Most times, the quality that I choose has a lot to do with what I have going on that week. If I’m training, facilitating, or speaking, I might choose Communication. If I’m having a difficult time with a relationship in my life, I might choose acceptance or empathy.
This past week I choose Adaptability.
I choose adaptability as the leadership quality that I wanted to focus on for a number of reasons.
First, it had a lot to do with having just had my first son, Hunter. Hunter is now four weeks old and, in that short period of time, he’s taught me much about what it means to be both a father and a leader. You see, I’ve learned in the past few weeks that there will be times in my life where I will have absolutely no control over what is going on. I can’t control when Hunter sleeps, when he cries, or when he wants to be held. All I can do in this situation is keep in mind that the only control I have is how I choose to approach the situation itself. For example, I can focus on the things that I’m not able to do now (like read every day or workout 4-5 times a week) or I can embrace this new time in my life and adapt to the situation that I’m so very fortunate to be in.
So this week I choose to focus on the later. I choose to be adaptable as I believe that that is what makes a great leader.
As I went through the week, I had to ask myself “What does being adaptable look like?”
To me, being adaptable means going with the flow. It means embracing your situation, regardless of how it looks to others, and choosing to make the best of the circumstances. This requires a lot of self-knowledge and self-control.
I’ll admit, I had a few moments of weakness this week. When you combine little sleep with stressful situations, I tend to not have the same restraint I would if I was well rested. Things were said to people I cared about (and a few strangers) that wouldn’t have normally been said or that I knew I should be saying. So, to those people, I’m sorry.
Adaptability really means being able to change as circumstances require it to. It means that we have to be flexible in our daily lives. It teaches us that being rigid in our ways not only harms ourselves but also harms people around us.
Abraham Maslow said it well when he said:
“To the man who only has a hammer, everything he encounters begins to look like a nail.”
Live the Questions,
Matt Tod is an international speaker, leadership facilitator, writer and lover of all things Zombie-related.