scale, balance

What is work-life balance?

As coaches, almost all our clients indicate that they want more balance and more specifically work-life balance.

I recently did a talk on Glomedia.TV about how we experience change and if working from home contributes to better work-life balance. I made the case that I gained more than what I gave up. It made me think what work-life balance is. Can one have a balance in your life or organisation?

When talking about balance, we tend to think of a scale, like the scales of justice. But a scale only gives a two-dimensional perspective, which means when the one end is up the other is down. The balance point is when the left and the right is of the same weight.

We live in a world of right and wrong; things are open or closed; it is always the one or the other. Why can’t we have both or balance? Does it mean we ever need to give something up? Like when ordering from a menu in a restaurant – you need to choose between the one or the other – ribs or pizza. In some restaurants you can get an in-between, a rib-pizza, but is this the same or a compromise?

The idea that there is always a right, and a wrong, makes me believe that there is no such thing as balance in life. (except when weighing something). One party needs to win and the other to lose.

I believe that “balance” (I can’t find a better word; therefore, the quotes), is not static or two dimensional. The best words I could find was harmony or equilibrium, which also does not fully describe my view on “balance”.

I also believe that most things may be right now but wrong a few seconds later. Think of an example, before Covid-19, we could all shake hands when greeting, now we are not allowed to touch, and we need to use our elbows or wave. Does it mean that right and wrong is dependent on the context or circumstances we are in? There is a saying: When in Rome, do like the Romans do, which does not necessarily make it right or does it? Think of our roads, these days few people bother to stop at a stop sign, does it make it right to skip the stop street? I don’t think so.

I think “balance” is more 3-dimensional of nature and requires movement to maintain balance. The best example I have is a spinning top. Sometimes it leans to the right and sometimes to the left. This lean can be towards any side, making the full 360 degrees available. The centrifugal force or spinning motion is of utmost importance to keep it from falling over. It might lean to the one end and then to the other, due to this force bringing it upright every time. The top falls to the ground when this force stops. My idea of “balance” is therefore dependent on this centrifugal force, which means if we want to balance something in life, it may require constant effort to keep it in “balance”.

When looking at the spinning top, the only point that is stable and constant is the point where the top meets the ground. For me, this is a crucial point; it represents where and how you are grounded. This might be a higher power or god that you believe in; as well as your purpose or reason for your existence and why you are doing things.

Every individual need to consider what it is that grounds them. Then start weighing things like work-life and family-life against each other to determine how important each of these are. If both are important or required, you need to decide which actions are necessary to create and maintain a delicate “balance” in your life.

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