The Concept of Balance
Anything in life that is worth something – anything that you might consider novel, pioneering, valuable, game changing, beautiful – wasn’t achieved without effort. Whether by an individual, a group of people or an organization, hours of toil as well as both mental and physical anguish, were important ingredients in its creation.
Steve Jobs and the well-known stories about what he and his teams put into the creation of pretty much any of his ‘iProducts’. (OK, Cliché alert…but just cos it’s obvious doesn’t mean it isn’t relevant!)
U2 and the creation of their masterpiece, Achtung Baby. An album that almost pulled the band apart.
Francis Ford Coppola and the creative mayhem that led to the creation of his movies such as The Godfather and Apocalypse Now.
And, at a perhaps more approachable level for most of us, any entrepreneur who came up with an idea and turned it into a viable, successful business that’s made an impact in their industry.
All of these achievements, regardless of scale, required sacrifice. Not just money (though I don’t believe this is always a pre-requisite) but time and mindspace. It required these people to not only make an effort, but to give their time and their mental wherewithal. It required them to put their specific business/song/movie/project/initiative above all else.
At the expense of balance. At the expense of a ‘normal life’. But what is normal anyway?
Is it the conventional wisdom of the company man? Is it the societal expectation that requires you to compartmentalize your life into neat, consistent buckets of work, play, family, etc.?
My point is – nothing great has ever been achieved without sacrifice and specifically, without sacrificing traditional notions of ‘normality’. Simply, I don’t believe you can do something great under ‘normal’ circumstances.
Say NO to normal.
Let passion take over. Let it run amok. Let it control your very fiber. Let it exhilarate you.
For periods of time and to further the ‘Great’.
Balance doesn’t change the world. Imbalance does. And imbalance doesn’t fit into neat little convenient buckets of compartmentalized life.
Look, if you want conventionally defined normality, then go for it. Just don’t labor under any other pretense as to end product and aspirations. As I’ve said before, I’m not saying that you can’t achieve something good in such circumstances. I’m sure you can.
But can you achieve something great? I don’t think so.
(Post-script – there is an argument to be made for what I would call “balance in the long term” – you can’t sustain the creator’s pace in the longer term without burn out, so ultimately, you need to seek out balance. But when you’re in the thick of things?)