Posts Tagged ‘balance’

Mei-Li has a Ph.D. and works for one of the biggest communication companies in the world. Originally from China, she has been in Silicon Valley, California for the majority of her adult life. Married with two children Mei-Li is very happy. However, she has been facing a very challenging dilemma for many years: Though she is happy, successful and fulfilled in her life as it is, she’s concerned that she should do more – be more.

Mei-Li observes her boss focusing most of his attention on getting ahead; she sees other women at her level of management working for the next promotion, the next level of leadership and responsibility. “I don’t want an increase in responsibility; I don’t want to work that hard; I don’t like talking with people that much that I want to move to the next level of management. But, should I want to? Is there something wrong with me that I don’t want to do that? I’m afraid there’s something very wrong with me.”

As Mei-Li shares with me over many coaching sessions, her consistency of feelings and truths about what’s true for her has me coach her to see the dilemma she is currently constrained by. On the one hand, Mei-Li loves her job and the team she manages. She has the free time she needs to be available to her children and to her husband in a way that fits best with her sense of the quality relationship she wants. She isn’t stressed and unnerved by unmet deadlines. She’s actually one of the 10% of the workforce that actually is fulfilled in her career.

On the other hand, Mei-Li’s culture married with our Western culture attempts to move people into work that isn’t their’s to do. Mei-Li watches people spend more time being people pleasers than effective employees of this company and she finds this frustrating and confusing. “People aren’t getting their work done while they are schmoosing for a promotion. Should I be doing that? The fact is, I don’t like schmoosing; I don’t like going to cocktail parties, playing golf or any of those other social things that you are supposed to do if you want to get ahead. I’m a pretty reclusive person who enjoys my life the way it is. But, I feel like I should be doing more.”

Many of us face this dilemma of being more – doing more; at the same time actually finding fulfillment in what we are doing right now. But, aren’t we supposed to want more money and power? Aren’t we supposed to want the bigger office, more contact with the more influential people of the world? Aren’t we supposed to want more?

My sense is, and I shared this with Mei-Li in our session, that what people want is to get to a place where there is fulfillment in their work and personal life – that there is balance with health and happiness. I believe that most people want what Mei-Li has. She already has it. Though the current within the corporate structure drags many people in its undertow toward some fantasy life that is wrought with a lot of what they don’t want to do and perhaps aren’t really cut out to be with, there are few who willingly choose health and fulfillment with what they have, what they do and how they be.

Mei-Li laughs as she begins to see a bigger picture – one that allows her free choice to choose for herself what’s hers to do. She laughs to hear that what people are struggling for is what she already has. She laughs as she realizes that she is presently free to choose to be happy in the life she has created and if in the future she feels inspired to grow her career toward greater degrees of leadership and responsibility, she can do that.

Mei-Li isn’t out of the current, and as long as she is in the corporate environment there will always be that field of influence. The degree to which she can stay aligned with her commitment to well-being and fulfillment in her career, the stronger her dedication and the less pull this will have on her.

Christopher, who I spoke of a few weeks ago, shared with me that if he could do anything he would work with inner city kids, teaching them math and computer skills. Then, the litany of “Why I Can’t Leave My Job and Give Up Everything I Worked For” began. There was no stopping him; the who would pay the mortgage, who would take care of my parents, I’d have to give up my addiction to Siamese cats; on and on, fully engaged in the undertow of a make believe reality, for too many, is actually real.

Mei-Li has found an eddy for now where she is out of the stream of influence by others. She is finding herself – the one she believes she has to continually pursue. It takes strength and courage to step out of the normal way of being for the sake of what we are all striving for – well-being and fulfillment in our careers. Kind of crazy when you think about it! Perhaps the pursuit of Mei-Li has come to a happy ending; right here where she has been, but now enjoying it to a much larger degree!

Rosie KuhnThis article is contributed by Dr. Rosie Kuhn, founder of the Paradigm Shifts Coaching Group, author of Self-Empowerment 101, and creator and facilitator of the Transformational Coaching Training Program. She is a life and business coach to individuals, corporations and executives.
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Resilience Engineering #30: Balance and Perspective

by Gary Monti on January 18, 2012

Maintaining balance and perspective is key to leading complex, constrained projects. In the last blog regarding keeping one’s wits, the need for discipline was the first step mentioned. Below is a simple method I’ve used to help establish discipline and maintain balance and perspective.

Risk Analysis: A Traditional Approach

Normally risk is viewed negatively, i.e., problems in the present and threats out in the future. A common communication and discussion tool is the chart below.

Probabilities range from low, medium, and high, as do impacts. This is a good chart. The question is, though, “What would it take to make it better?” That gets to the issue of balance and perspective. It is out of balance because only one aspect of risk is being addressed, the downside. Risk management also has an upside with windfalls being events in the present that are adding constructively to the project and opportunities being future constructive events.

People are very visual. When they only see the downside and then talk to the positive balance can be missing. In other words, this chart will work better if it were expanded to include the good along with the bad and ugly (forgiveness, please, Mr. Eastwood).

Risk Analysis: A More Comprehensive View

In the chart below a better approach is shown.

Let’s look at how this works. (Before getting started I want to point out the vertical axis for negative events is flipped from the previous chart, i.e., really bad events are at the bottom rather than the top.) “Insufficient resources” is the negative event we will focus on. The flow of the conversation in dealing with this goes like this:

  1. “Insufficient resources” is a definite threat to the project with both a high probability and high impact;
  2. “Add resources” is an opportunity that will neutralize the threat and it, too, has a high probability and high impact;
  3. “Integrate additional resources” is a threat projected by the opportunity “add resources.”

Look at what this approach does:

  1. It provides balance by presenting potential opportunity AND the ripple effect in terms of a threat that this opportunity poses. The team gets a chance to have a more integrated conversation – one that leads to more cohesive actions and interactions;
  2. Perspective has been added. The visual is more balanced. We’ve built something that reflects that. Again, people are visual and pay attention to what structures they can feel, touch, and deal with, and;
  3. This is a more disciplined approach. (Remember the previous blog about keeping one’s wits?) The entire picture is presented.

Working in this manner helps dampen the types of conversations that would end at “adding resources.” If this were to happen, after the meeting people might start talking something like this, “Well you know, someone has to take care of these resources. Where are they going to sit? Who’s going to bring them up to speed?” Talking in this manner risks poisoning the underlying conversation and undermining the credibility of the project and project manager.

With the leader bringing as much as possible out in the open for discussion the chart gets increasingly robust by avoiding being naïve and overplaying the opportunities as well as avoiding promotion of only a “downside” frame of mind. It also challenges people to participate and stop reserving comments for the gossip mill. The leader is in a better position to promote participation and a healthy sense of responsibility. Those who are realistic, positive and forward looking get a much-needed boost.

Gary Monti PMI presentation croppedThrough his firm, Center for Managing Change, Gary Monti has over 30 years experience providing change- and project management services internationally. He works at the nexus between strategy, business case, project-, process-, and people management. Service modalities include consulting, teaching, mentoring, and speaking. Credentials include PMP number 14 (Project Management Institute®), Myers-Briggs Type Indicator certification, and accreditation in the Cynefin methodology. Gary can be reached at gwmonti@mac.com or through Twitter at @garymonti
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Flexible Focus #46: Lens on Consciousness

by William Reed on March 24, 2011

In the last eight articles we have looked deeper into the realm of the mind, looking through the lens of consciousness to see our life from higher, bigger, and deeper perspectives. And yet even from vastly different perspectives, it is all in the context of our daily familiar existence. Revisiting these articles will help you re-explore the territories where we have been, and see also how they fit together. These selections also correspond to the primary eight categories covered in the series, so this review provides an overview of one trip around the wheel, and also reflects the amazing range of topics possible to address with the Mandala Chart.

The images are assembled in the Mandala shown here, referenced from the articles and downloads below. In the conventional Mandala fashion, they are marked A (bottom center), B (left center), C (top center), D (right center), E (bottom left), F (top left), G (top right), F (bottom right).

Here are a few notes to set your thoughts in motion. For easy reference, and to trigger new insights, download the Mandala Charts and review the original articles from each of the links below.

MIND MANDALA BODY (From Flexible Focus #38: Flexibility without Forcing)

Out of your comfort zone…into freedom

Many people like the idea of flexibility more than the practice of it. This is understandable, for if the experience takes you out of your comfort zone, you may prefer the familiar to the flexible. When your body is stiff, then physical stretching can feel more like pain than gain. A similar thing happens mentally when your values or beliefs are forcibly stretched beyond their limits. The key to expanding your comfort zone is to have more degrees of freedom. A brittle stick has no degrees of freedom, so anything which bends it, will break it. The fear of breaking causes many people to retreat into their comfort zone when stretched, but rigidity is ultimately a zone of discomfort. When you have more degrees of freedom in your mind and movements, then you experience flexible focus in action!

A NEW MODEL FOR COACHING (From Flexible Focus #39: The Principle of Gratitude)

You are not the only one in trouble…Make the world a better place

One of the hardest lessons of flexibility is letting go of the ego’s attachments. Pride prevents you from achieving flexibility, because it insists on being right, being first, or being better than others. It’s companions are alike, inflexible, stubborn, righteous, and condescending. These attitudes have ruled and ruined empires as well as personal relationships throughout history, and of course are equally evident today. The ancient Greeks called it hubris (hybris), excessive ambition or pride leading to a fall, or to total ruin. In Asian tradition, pride is like the brittle stick which does not bend, but only breaks. The inflexibility of mind, also known as the hardening of the attitudes, is ultimately the cause of the problem. It is better to be flexible, like bamboo.

A NEW KIND OF NATION (From Flexible Focus #40: The 8 Frames of Life: Society)

Social Media is a classless…and virtually free territory

What is your place in society? At one time, and still in many countries, this was a not a question which you were permitted to answer or control. Rather, it was a matter of birth, circumstance, good or bad fortune, and your place in society was largely determined by people and circumstances beyond your control. Throughout history in various times and places, individuals and groups of people have raised this question, and asserted their right of self-determination, the right to determine their own role and mission in society. Now due to the momentum of such movements in the past, and the amazing impact of technology to connect people and facilitate communication, these questions are being raised widely around the world, not just in the traditional style of political movements, but in a brand new style of personal movements.

YOUR ENTIRE LIFE IN A MANDALA PERSPECTIVE (From Flexible Focus #41: Your 100 Year Lifespan)

The past can be changed…and the future is fixed

You periodically encounter popular sayings that life ends or begins at 30, or at 50, depending on the attitude and experience of the person saying it. It is a poor and arbitrary perspective really, and let’s face it, sour grapes living produces sour grapes sayings. Yet there are many people who lose the plot of their life somewhere along the way. If you look closely there is a plot, and although life’s drama unfolds differently for each person, there are underlying themes that are remarkably consistent in a meaningful life. The originator of the MandalaChart system Matsumura Yasuo created a framework using the 8×8 B-style Mandala Chart, called the 100 Year Life Span. He said that, “The past can be changed, and the future is fixed.” How can this be? Commonsense tells us that you cannot change what has already happened, and that no one can say for sure what is coming. However, using the Mandala Chart you can reframe what has happened, and you can pre-frame what is coming.

PUTTING TIME IN A NEW PERSPECTIVE (From Flexible Focus #42: Time Lapse as a Mandala Movie)

The Mandala Chart takes you out of conventional time…gives you a new perspective

The 3×3 framework of the Mandala Chart lends itself well to showing the relationship of the frames as a visual Gestalt, a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. The bird’s eye view gives you a 3-dimensional perspective. But what about the 4th dimension, that of time? Most discussions about the 4th dimension focus on its abstract geometry, trying to visualize what it would be like to be 90-degrees perpendicular to the 3rd dimension, in effect looking at the transformation of a 3-dimensional object over time. This is not so difficult to imagine if you look at the effect you get in time-lapse photography, where you can watch a flower grow, or see a full day of cloud transformations in the span of a few minutes. Time-lapse in real time – it is even closer at hand than that, because we all experience transformation moment to moment.

WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT YOU GET (From Flexible Focus #43: 8 Levels of Consciousness)

The central premise…is that our thoughts create our world

As central as the number 8 is to the Mandala Chart and the original Buddhist framework of Wisdom which it is based on, it is not surprising then to find that in this framework there are 8 levels of consciousness. The first five are quite familiar. We call them the five senses: Visual, Auditory, Olfactory, Taste, and Touch, which are how we perceive the world, through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and touch. The sixth is Ideation, our conscious thought, referred to in Buddhist thought as the Monkey Mind, because it is typically unsettled and constantly chattering. The first six levels of consciousness then make up the conscious mind, the part that we are mostly aware of. What gets interesting is when you delve into the subconscious mind, which has two layers; the Mana (Obscuration/Shadow) consciousness, which we refer to as the Ego, and the Seed (Storehouse) consciousness at the core.

A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF BALANCE (From Flexible Focus #44: Lessons in Life Balance)

How many things are juggled already in perfect balance…without any effort or interference on our part

The common word for it is Work-Life Balance, the challenge and stress of giving proper attention and time to both work and family. Part of the challenge is that every individual’s situation is unique. No one pattern fits all. Sometimes the stress is generated not so much by the situation, as by the person’s thoughts and attitudes in responding to it. Particularly stressful is the effort to give equal attention or equal time to everything. This cannot be done, though you can work yourself into a frenzy trying. At the end of the day, what really makes for Life Balance is not how you juggle the parts, but whether or not you maintain a calm center.

ABUNDANCE IN 8 AREAS OF LIFE (From Flexible Focus #45: My Cup Runneth Over)

Gratitude grows into giving…and is a principle seen everywhere in nature

In our pursuit of prosperity, we tend to take for granted the blessings that we already have in abundance. A Greek myth which made a big impression on me as a child was the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch. The King was granted a gift to his greed that whatever he touched would turn to gold, but the gift was a curse because he petrified everything and everyone he touched, turning it into a golden object devoid of life. Gold is as perennial in our culture as greed itself. While we talk about a heart of gold, good as gold, and the Golden Age, we often find that gold can bring out the worst in human nature, from gold diggers to Goldfinger. It is often taken as a symbol of wealth, the gold standard. But it is seldom seen as a symbol of abundance. Let your helping hand be one of Kindness, not a golden touch.

NOTE: The articles in the Flexible Focus series are updated with graphics, links, and attachments on the FLEXIBLE FOCUS Webbrain, a dynamic and navigable map of the entire series. It has a searchable visual index, and is updated each week as the series develops.

William ReedWilliam Reed specializes in applying practical wisdom from Japanese and Asian culture to solving the problems of modern business and living. He is the author of the Flexible Focus column on Active Garage, the syndicated column Creative Career Path and the book A Zoom Lens for Your life. William is also a Representative Director and Co-Founder of EMC QUEST Corporation, which provides Coaching for Communication and Change, World Class Speaking™, and Accelerated Action with GOALSCAPE™.
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Guy Kawasaki’s Finishing School for Entrepreneurs!

by Roger Parker on March 8, 2011

While reading an advance copy of Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, it struck me that what Guy is providing is a “finishing school for 21st Century entrepreneurs.”

According to Wikipedia, finishing school originally referred to “a private school for girls that emphasizes training in cultural and social activities.” Intended to follow ordinary schooling, finishing school is “intended to complete the educational experience, with classes primarily on etiquette.”

Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment is much more than shallow etiquette, as it references many of the most important and influential current books on marketing, psychology, and social behavior, such as Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Power of Persuasion.

Yet, at heart, Enchantment is an etiquette book; its a 21st century behavior book, a guide to the subtleties and nuances of daily business life that determine whether or not others—bosses, co-workers, customers, employees, prospects, and website visitors—will like us and trust us…or simply tune-us out.

Image versus reality

Enchantment fascinates me because—on the surface–it looks, and reads, like a “simple” book. It’s a fast read because sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, are short. Topics inside chapters are short and to the point, broken up with frequent subheads, lists, and quotations that keep readers engaged and moving forward.

There are also enough graphics to reinforce important points.

Look behind the apparent simplicity and easy reading, however, and you’ll find a wealth of carefully organized, up-to-date information. Enchantment’s bibliography may only include 20 titles, but they’re the right 20 titles, and Guy Kawasaki obviously carefully read each of the contemporary business classics before skillfully weaving them into the narrative.

You’ll definitely want to read Enchantment with pen in hand, so you can underline the many ideas you’ll want to revisit.

Importance of balance

Most business books fall into the trap of either being too abstract or too practical.

  • Abstract books, often the ground-breaking books that introduce new ideas and perspectives, are often too research-oriented to be useful. They may define a new way of approaching a problem, but they don’t provide the daily nuts-and-bolts, “do and don’t” advice, that readers need to efficiently implement and profit from the new perspective.
  • Practical books, on the other hand, are often so distilled down to the “how to’s” that readers don’t understand the background, or the context, of the recommended advice.

Enchantment is one of the rare exceptions. It defines a “code of behavior” that will encourage others to like, respect, and trust you (and your ideas) and also provides the specific advice and recommendations you need to create the daily habits that will enchantment those whose approval you need to achieve your goals.

Is Enchantment for you?

Basically, Enchantment is for you, if :

  • You’d rather read 1 book, instead of 20 other books.
  • You’re interested in stories, rather than ideas. Enchantment is filled with examples from Guy Kawasaki’s own experiences plus personal stories contributed by a variety of successful entrepreneurs.
  • You’re part of the personal computing and Internet age. As a well-known Silicon Valley participant and investor, Guy Kawasaki writes from a privileged “insider” perspective about the past. This also makes him the perfect guide to introduce you to ways to achieve your enchantment using the latest online and social media technology.

Enchantment contains additional subtleties that enhance its value as a “finish school” for entrepreneurs. The table of contents, for example, provides topic lists with check-boxes for you to track your progress as you read. In addition, the Conclusion contains a self-scoring quiz you can take to test your mastery of Enchantment powers. There’s also a fascinating story, (that word, again!), describing the origins of the book cover and how it was crowd-sourced and market-tested before committing to it. (Guy practices what he preaches.) All in all, Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment is a book that deserves your attention. To learn more, view Guy’s Enchantment slides and speech, take an online quiz, read online excerpts, or view (or embed) the Enchantment infographic.

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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The Difference Between Balance and Harmony

by Robert Driscoll on January 8, 2010

Everyone wants their life to be perfect with no concerns and in perfect harmony and balance.  Or do they?  If you think about it, a perfect life with no concerns would actually be pretty boring where you have no disagreements and no worries.  Your life would be like a stick in the stream with no obstacles.  In reality though, life is full of challenges.  Some challenges you can foresee them coming, but most of the time you can’t and it’s how you deal with these challenges that defines you and your identity at home and in the marketplace.  Everyone strives for balance and harmony in their lives, or so they say, but is there a difference?

There are several definitions for each.  For balance, one of the definitions states that balance is a point between two opposite forces that is desirable over purely one state or the other.  With harmony , the definition states that it is an order or congruity of parts to their whole or to one another.

If you take a moment and think about both definitions, they are actually very different.  If you are striving to have balance in your life, then by the definition, you will have to ease up on something or give it up to bring your life in balance.  In the end you might not be fulfilled by having to give something up that brought you some pleasure in life.  Granted, if what you had to give up was causing you or those around you pain, then it’s understandable.  While many of us say that we want to have balance in life, do we really want to have something always pulling on us?

This leads us to harmony.  Life is full of challenges and we face them every day in our marriages, our friendships and in our professional lives.  Learning to work through these challenges and not letting them overwhelm you by accepting and understanding them and by working through them and eventually embracing them, you can have a more fulfilling life.  At the same time, embracing the good things that come to you in life and taking advantage of these moments will make life that much more enjoyable. 

Like Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Instead of trying to achieve balance in your life and always fighting or dealing with opposing forces, try to find harmony with everything that comes to you and embrace it.  Accepting the challenges that come to you in life and working to improve the areas that bring you joy in life will open up the space for new possibilities  which in turn will make your life more fulfilling.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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