Dan   |  Monday, October 28, 2013
Tags: Leadership Dan Cathy Chick-fil-A Work life balance

Be Purposefully Imbalanced

Work-life balance is not a new phrase, but I think we may have missed the mark by using the word “balance.” Think about what it means. To be balanced is to distribute equal weight to both sides of a scale or, if you’re on a beam, to both sides of your body. Where working and living are concerned, we translate this to mean that we should give equal parts of our day to our work lives and our personal lives. But is that what’s best? Is that how we become great workers, parents, leaders and friends?

The truth is that we are at our best when we are fully focused and present or, in other words, imbalanced. If you take on a new responsibility like a promotion at work or a new child at home, a certain level of imbalance is required—especially in the beginning. This same inequity of time and energy is also required to continue growing in those areas. Like a successful high-wire act, we have to learn when to lean one way and when to lean back the other way. It takes some time, but purposeful imbalance is possible and ultimately necessary if you want to keep improving in all you do.

I remember when my boys were young and playing various sports throughout the year. One afternoon around 3:30 PM, I snuck out the fire escape at our office to attend a track meet.

Feeling guilty, I then sat down in the stands with a stack of Chick-fil-A mail and a couple of trade magazines. I thought I had to juggle it all simultaneously to succeed.

As I was sitting there with all that paperwork, it finally hit me. I wasn’t giving my boys my full presence. As a result, I wasn’t the best dad I could be. Not long after that, one of them had an afternoon baseball game. This time I exited down the main spiral staircase at our offices with nothing to hide and no stack of mail to steal my attention from the game.

We haven’t given “imbalance” the credit it deserves. When we say we want better “balance,” what we really mean is that we want to be more purposefully imbalanced.

In what area of your life do need more purposeful imbalance today?

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