The rollercoaster – are YOU on one?

A friend emailed me yesterday to say her business had been a ‘rollercoaster’. Know the feeling?  Loads of ups and downs following one another in frighteningly (or exhilaratingly) quick succession.

Dawn from my tent flap, Lisebotn Fiord, Norway.
Dawn from my tent flap, Lysebotn Fiord, Norway, Aug 09.

Assuming ‘ups’ are the tough bits and the ‘downs’ easier, we tend to see in the next few cycles what fits our expectations.  Here are two alternatives for a person going through a tough time:

a) “Whatever good times I go through they always seem to be followed by one of these debilitating climbs. It is really hard.”      Or…

b) “I often go through tough times, but there is always a good time after that. I just keep going till I break through.”

Or as an old preacher used to say, “As surely as the Lord paints the sunsets, the dawn will come!” He knew a thing or two.

Same ride (it’s called Life), different responses. Here are two comments to think about:

1) If you’re wanting to make the most of the ups and downs, look for the trends:  Are the good times getting more or less frequent? Are the steep times getting tougher or less tough? It helps you step back a little and see a bigger picture.

2) Remember that people who see the good times live longer, are happier healthier and richer. They are not merely to be written off as ‘optimists’ refusing to face the facts. They live with a crucial ingredient for healthy living – hope.

Both these attitudes help us as business people to respond to the situations in hand without being tossed about by them emotionally too much. Let them affect you.

Remember when the darkness has set in: sunrise is inevitable.

Work-Life Balance?

I’ve a confession to make: I don’t spend much time thinking about ‘balance’. To start with, I don’t like the implied superiority of assuming we have a ‘balanced’ opinion, or the implication that ‘we need to keep a balance here’. Even when I’m riding my motorbike, I only have to consider balance when the bike is going oh-so-slowly or is stopped. The moment the wheels turn and we’re moving forward, balance happens by itself, quite naturally. In fact the only times the bike has become unbalanced and fallen over has been when it was stopped.

Now there’s a thought.

She looked so out of place.
She looked so out of place.

Let’s go one step further. The most powerful moments in the histories of both the world in general and my life in particular have been those times when something has happened (good or bad) to profoundly upset the balance, to over-write the status-quo, to destabilise daily life.

Those are the times when our lives take on new learning, we develop at a faster rate, find out about our strengths and weaknesses and grow as individuals. We learn that stability is not a human right or even a human need.

Progress is.

Progress is the process of moving beyond where I am now to a better place, and a better one after that. Of course I’ll only do that when I know where I want to go and am not afraid to go there.

This is regularly reflected in the lives of many of my clients who want me to coach them. It isn’t that they’re troubled by a lack of balance; it is that they feel stuck, trapped by fears. Their lives have become stable, so they  deliberately invite in someone beyond themselves to invade their life and thinking, upset the balance and overcome the fears, so that progress is restored again.

So what of the ‘work-life balance’ debate? Is ‘balance’ an enemy or a friend?  Personally I think it is much more a distraction. It is also an indicator of a lack of personal vision, an absence of a sense of purpose, a presence of fear.

Focused, passionate people are not distracted by concerns about balance. They know that balance mitigates against progress.

If you are concerned about ‘work-life balance’ at the moment, step back and ask questions like these instead: What is my purpose on this earth?  What progress am I making in the fulfilment that purpose? What needs to happen to take my progress in the fulfilment of that purpose into another league, two, three, (eight?) levels higher. (Big steps are often much more satisfying than little ones.)

Of course you could always email me and we’ll find out together.  It’s funny, isn’t it, how September is the natural month to think again about your sense of purpose.  I’m enjoying it.