What Does Balance Look Like in Leadership?
It’s hard to imagine a time when our notion of balance has been tested as much as it has since March, 2020 when the pandemic began in the U.S. We would be challenged in ways that were unimaginable just days or weeks before then. Overnight homes became makeshift schools and offices. Kitchen tables became desks. We were all surfing a tsunami without surfer training!
Prior to the pandemic, I often heard clients state “work/life balance” as one of their most desired outcomes from coaching. In fact, the illusive notion of “balance” is one of the most common challenges leaders face. Many of us believe we can get it by reading books, attending seminars and watching videos. I beg to differ.
What if balance doesn’t have to be “found?” What if balance has never really been “lost?” What if what is lost is the ability to access what is already present?
How would you be different if you acted as if you already had balance and stopped looking for it on the outside?
Imbalance comes when we live in one extreme or the other.
Human beings are pre-wired for balance. Our bodies are designed to be in homeo-stasis; a balanced state is our birthright. Eastern wisdom traditions teach us that everything in the universe is designed to be balanced; this is referred to as “polarity.” Consider yin and yang, masculine and feminine, positive and negative, etc. The problem comes when we live in one extreme or the other; when we live in duality with too much or too little of anything we experience life around the edges.
Fortunately, our nervous systems are designed for our brains and bodies to self-regulate to a balanced state. The sympathetic nervous system regulates thinking, conscious and willful action. It is the part of our body that we use most often in our waking state and the one we use most often while working. We can call it the “thinking and doing” part of the equation. The problem comes when this is the ONLY state we know. When we operate exclusively in this state, imbalance occurs. Too much imbalance begins to show up and deteriorates performance, relationships, and health.
The para-sympathetic nervous system is the counter-balance to the sympathetic. It balances the active and alert state. However, It can only be activated in a deeply relaxed state. When accessed, it allows for intuition, visualizations, creativity, and other “feeling and being” sorts of activities. The problem is it cannot be accessed in a state of distress, stress, anxiety, or overwhelm.
ACCESS what is already in you.
The solution to imbalance isn’t to control and regulate more on the outside; it’s to ACCESS what is already present. We can become clear and intentional, and from that place, we can operate in a balanced way in moment after moment. Perhaps not all the time, but for some time.
Getting to a balanced state is possible for each and every one of us. As leaders, your ability to create the vision, inspire others, and help develop their capacities to the best of their abilities is dependent on your ability to access your own inner balance. If you cannot do it, you will transmit the imbalanced energies outwards to your team. Not surprisingly, this creates more problems than it solves.
Think about Balance. Are you in or out of it? Here are 3 quick tips to re-connect with balance:
- Immerse yourself in green by walking or running in nature; green helps with relaxation and promotes deeper breathing
- Breath is the gateway to a mind-body state of deep relaxation; balance will come with several deep belly breaths over a period of minutes.
- Do something FUN; balance can happen when you immerse yourself in something new that is enjoyable and different than your routine
Balance is found within. The moment you decide that you are already balanced, you will focus your attention on accessing what is available to you already. As you do this, the perception of imbalance will begin to fade away. Things that were pulling on you will no longer call for your attention. As you focus on who and what matter most with conscious awareness, solutions to pressing problems will clearly emerge. You will be accessing your Guru Leader Within.