Balance is a Journey to an Unreachable Destination and a constant struggle you will never truly overcome but can manage over time

I’m a venture partner at Zú, which is an investment vehicle conceived by Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté. The folks there asked me to talk about something outside of business. Ash and you shall receive, I chose the theme of Balance. Watch the Q&A here.

When I told my daughter that I’d be speaking about balance, she paused, smiled & asked “you, really?” Impressed as always by her intelligence & humor, I explained that balance was “a journey to an unreachable destination.” Unimpressed, she left the room. To me, balance is a constant struggle you will never truly overcome but can manage over time. Instead of viewing work and life as a balancing act, Amazon founder and Chairman Jeff Bezos said that it’s more productive to view them as two integrated parts: “I get asked about work-life balance all the time. And my view is, that’s a debilitating phrase because it implies there’s a strict trade-off. It actually is a circle. It’s not a balance,” he said.

A circle, heh? To me, balance is the struggle to attain some kind of Work/Life/Play balance. It’s a pyramid:

I first began to think about balance while writing my first book, Course To Success: Everything You Need To Succeed Beyond School. As a biographer, I looked at hundreds of successful people and how they overcame the obstacles in the fields of business, sports, entertainment, military and life in general. The book’s four themes include:

  • Plato’s principle of specialization & identifying one’s comparative advantage,
  • Gestalt psychology’s sum of parts and concept of teamwork,
  • Freud’s division of mind theory, which is about balancing self interest with the greater good,
  • and of course the Chinese principle of yin-yang (balance).

I’ve covered balance for the past twenty years, even before writing Course to Success. Balance isn’t pretending everything is fine all the time, it’s going through a series of emotions & processing your thoughts to land in a place where you gain perspective and become content with things. It’s akin to stepping on scale, the doctor doesn’t nail the weight: they undershoot, then overshoot… then you find equilibrium. IMHO, anyone who claims they’re in perfect harmony at all times is a ticking time bomb (#SerenityNow).

Balance isn’t as obvious as some may think, as it’s essentially a journey to a destination you never reach. The reality is many aren’t content with where they’re at – be it with work, life & play. I can attest to that through the personal and professional high & lows WatchMojo & elsewhere.

Balance is a struggle, a conflict between internal & external forces that we strive to manage over our own arc based on our Nature & Nurture, insecurities & how we define success – which is fluid, subjective & relative.