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November 20, 2019

Balance is an Illusion in Business

by Paden Hughes

Have you ever met a scrappy person? Someone who just knew deep down that they could figure it out, make things happen and were not too proud to roll up their sleeves and do the work that no one else wanted to do? I love people like this and have long admired many mentors who showed these traits. In fact, I worked for so long to emulate this scrappiness that now I hear people describe me the same way. If I’m being honest, one of my beliefs has been “no one can out-work me!” As if it was a badge of honor.

Now, before you think I’m a productivity powerhouse, you should also know that I cyclically burn myself out. No external forces influence it. I am fully capable of driving myself so hard and so long that I will fly right into walls of exhaustion. It took me a while to own it and begin to realize the destructive pattern.

Like most things, the people closest to you are more likely to notice destructive patterns and call it to your attention. And I have some of the kindest friends who always find the nicest of ways to show me ways I need to grow.

I remember when a good friend gave me the book, The One Thing, by Gary Keller. My friend said that she knew I was busy but that she thought of me when she read a particular chapter in the book, and she had even gone to the extent to dogear the chapter for me. So I brought the book to the beach, and I started to read the chapter she’d ear marked. It was all about the facade of work life balance.

That totally caught my attention. Even before kids, I was curious about the elusive “balancing act” that I’d have to master in order to have a quality life.

But this book was so powerful to me because it didn’t say what I thought it was going to say. It didn’t think balance was actually achievable! What?!? I almost stopped reading. The audacity!

Thankfully there was a little cartoon, illustrating the main point that kept me going. The concept was this: If you are always trying to live a balanced life, you will never give anything your all and therefore you will have mediocre results.

If one side is hard work and the other side is total relaxation, then trying to be balanced is trying to live in the middle; not too far one way or the other. But the middle is mundane, and trying to manage too many things all at once produces poor results. The lesson connected with me in a deep way and while it was a lesson learned years ago, it’s still with me today.

There are times to push hard. To do the difficult thing. To reach for more and go ALL IN on a goal. It will be exhausting and it might push you to the brink of thinking you’re crazy. Yet, when you pendulum that far out, it will produce the best results.

I got that part down. “No worries,” I thought, since I love obsessively diving into projects and figuring things out. It’s like catnip to me.

But like all good lessons, there is always the part where the mic drops and you realize you’ve been served up more truth than you can handle at that point. If you pendulum out to high levels of performance, then you have to pendulum back in the opposite direction and rest and restoration and get back to the basics of health.

That is, without a doubt, the part I struggle with. Because of the high value that I place on achievement, slowing down and taking time for restoration used to feel lazy and wasteful.

Do you see why I’d burn myself out every 6 months, in my 20’s?

Thankfully, if you fast forward to one of the big lessons I’m learning in my 30’s, it’s how to rest and restore and find peace, while reaching for the best version of myself and still hitting new goals.

Ed Mylett, someone I admire and learn from, says there is value in being “blissfully discontent.” He says that true balance is in practicing being thankful and present for all the blessings in your life today, while still sitting in a place of discomfort because you still have more you would like to do and achieve.

The last four months have been some of the hardest in my life. So many long hours, working hard to build an online certification program that will educate and elevate so many fitness trainers and help to spread our methodology to more people exponentially. The impact will be amazing. But the work that has gone into it feels as intense and urgent as any early start up company. The energy is crazy and the demands are superhuman, at times. So when Michael and I decided to do this, we also booked a LONG vacation. It was what we needed to sprint towards and what we knew we’d need to make sure we got out of high performance mode and into an extreme period of rest, to come back to a place of balance.

As we close out 2019, it would be my hope for you that you get out of the middle and strategically plan for both the intensity of goal chasing and the requirement of slowing down to catch your breath!

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