Upsetting the Balance

A balanced diet, balanced life, balanced this…balanced that….everyone seems to want to be balanced!

But really what is balance? Is there a definition? After all what I think is balanced may not be what you think is balanced and both of those definitions may go against what Joe Bloggs thinks! and you know what Joe’s like…

On one hand ‘balance’ sounds sensible, an ideal way of being…

On the other hand, how should we determine our lives, thoughts & actions? Should our lives be shaped by goals that we want to take on or by the illusory definition of being a balanced person?

In the subsequent text I’m going to discuss a few points relative to the subject in question, which is particularly pertinent to those who WANT to be outstanding yet have the belief that they MUST live a balanced life – do these wants and desires conflict with one another?…Let’s find out.

Where Does The Idea of Being Balanced Even Come From?

After talking to many people about “being balanced”, it’s become fairly clear that experts in their field do NOT preach being balanced…at least not all of the time. They tell me that they spent years refining their craft and went through a lot of pain/sacrifice to get where they are today, prior to being able to give more attention to other aspects of life…now this doesn’t mean they “never went out” or had no social life, it just means that they spent most of their spare time really pushing themselves to get whatever it is they now excel at (nobody knew them when they were struggling…) to a level that allows them to be classed as an expert. They THEN started to balance out their life in other areas after this period of time.

I’ve noticed that those who preach being balanced are often those who either just want the best for you, to avoid you going through pain/stress with the chance of failure (although ‘failure’ itself is a great learning experience) – being “balanced” is a way of you avoiding this stress….or some people just don’t want you to push yourself as it may make them look lazy by comparison…but I’m sure you can tell them apart. Either way, it’s your choice – take on stress and “walk the path” towards mastery which is full of twists and turns….or cruise through life with low amounts of stress, but not giving yourself the chance of mastery in your chosen field. Whatever you want in life has a price, you just have to decide what you’re willing to pay.

Real Life Examples:
- Footballer – practices every day to maintain his skill
- Successful businessman – reads books, networks, constantly thinks about making money
- PhD student – becomes an expert from researching constantly for years before writing up their findings

Are any of these people “balanced”? I wouldn’t say so, yet these people are regarded as “successful” – challenging the balanced life approach.

“Observe the masses and do the opposite” – Walt Disney

Lessons I’ve Learnt

I’ve taken on a lot over the last few years and the skills I’ve excelled at I have STUCK to and FOCUSED on them for a decent period of time – whether that’s watching all the bodybuilding DVDs, reading books, articles and videos from experts in the field to become a coach in the fitness industry. To reading books, standing up in front of people to talk about certain topics and writing talks to become a better public speaker. I didn’t just do what it takes “every now and then” – it took weeks/months & years of consistent focus and facing my fears to change my brain chemistry in such a way that made everything that was once difficult – easy…although that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped working on these skills.

Then there are certain things, which I TRIED out for a week or two…then gave up on and maybe came back to a few months later…and guess what? I SUCK at those things, but is that really so surprising? If you’re wanting to really make LASTING change in your life, you’re going to have to tackle what it is you’re wanting to take control of FULL ON…immersion is by far the most efficient way of learning, which includes learning the theory but more importantly – putting that into practice to learn the ins and outs of that theory/lifestyle…this is one of the reasons why going on weekend seminars and similar are so effective as you are surround by the “topic” and experts in that field constantly, learning from them as well as their material – in the moment, live….learning from all of your scenes rather than just reading and interpreting that through your relatively inexperienced eyes, plus the instant feedback from questions allows us to make rapid progress.

Makes sense right? So, as you know this…are you doing what it takes to make whatever it is you want to become good at easy? If it’s your health & fitness efforts – are you making your meals, getting to the gym on a consistent basis, setting goals, pushing yourself and so on?

Actions to Consider For Rapid Improvement

If you’re the kind of person who wants to make a change in their life and take control of something that’s alluded you for some time (…for me it was how to get in shape all those years ago!) consider the following:

- Find someone you trust and learn from them – study their books, coaching, articles, videos.

- Be willing to challenge your current way of thinking, if you’re not where you want to be…it’s going to be essential.

- Get a plan and DO IT – don’t worry about it being perfect, just get started.

- Give your plan chance to work – e.g. a committed diet & training plan for 10 weeks.

- Stick to your plan, don’t look for other ways that will pull you in other directions.

- Once you’ve completed your plan, what did you like about it? What could be improved?

- Constantly look for more efficient ways to take what you are doing now to a greater level of execution.

- Consider teaching what you know to others, this will force you to really KNOW what you’re talking about provided you sincerely want to help others.

“To teach is to learn twice.” – Joseph Joubert

To Conclude

So although this is in no way complete and doesn’t cover all of the nuances, it should at least give you a more “realistic” impression of the value of balance in life. There is no “right and wrong” here, although taking the time to consciously decide how balanced you are will set you apart from those who rarely think about it and let the notion that “balance” is essential conflict with their desire to succeed.

You can have both, however you may have to go through a time of imbalance first.

Luke Thornton

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