The Juggling Act


The stars and stripes in our small town Memorial Day Parade got me thinking about how the Declaration of Independence articulates our right to pursue happiness, but there’s no guarantee we’ll ever achieve it.  It’s the same with our quest for ever-elusive balance in our work and personal lives. We’re all granted the same 24 hours; the rest is up to us.

Clowns Make It Look Easy

I have a long-standing metaphor for maintaining equilibrium in my life. I’m continually juggling bowling balls. Each of these balls represents something very important to me: family, work, health, friends and community to name the biggies. These are weighty commitments with serious consequences if I drop them. Trouble is, I can’t keep all of them up in the air all of the time. I’ve learned—the hard way—to let the balls down gently as gravity insists on taking over. I also try to make sure the same balls aren’t always rolling around underfoot.

My mother once asked, “Might you consider finding a more peaceful metaphor?” She has a point. A friend of mine observed, “I like how you give yourself permission to have balls on the ground.” He also has a point.

The Golden Triangle

A week ago I was trading metaphors with my colleague, Rachel Nobel. She described hers as a trifecta made up of mindfulness, health (spiritual, social and emotional) and ethics. “Whenever I’m facing a decision, I find myself asking how these three elements interact within the context of the situation. I usually find that they all work together giving me the information and guidance I need to go forward.”

What I appreciate about Rachel’s approach is that it not only offers a pathway forward to making a wise decision, but also a way to regain one’s footing by diagnosing what might be missing: What’s really going on? How does this decision impact my health or the environment? What’s the right thing to do?

A Third Way?

“Work-Life Balance” is a concept that often comes up in an executive coaching conversation. More recently I’ve come across the phrase, “Work-Life Integration”. I like that notion in that it is more holistic, less binary. Balance implies either/or with one thing outweighing another. Integration suggests a more complimentary relationship.

What’s your metaphor? What does integration look like to you? I’m all ears. These bowling balls are awfully heavy.

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