Ep 30: What the Olympics Reminded Me About Balance (And Why I Think It’s All a Lie)

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the Olympics! All the greatness, all the new records, all the countries coming together to compete on the world’s stage. It’s one of my favorite seasons and I look forward to it every couple years.

What the Olympics reminded me about living a “balanced life…” What? I’m sure that’s not the first thing you think of when you think of the Olympics but this last week it stood out to me and I decided I just HAD to share.

And with that in mind, I’m gonna say something that might sound “off-balance,” (pun intended) or extreme. And I’m gonna come down pretty hard on this idea that I think keeps people (and I see it more in women than men) below their potential. 

Then I’m also going to share a slight shift in how we can look at this that would serve us much better. 

But even though people keep saying “you’ve gotta be balanced” or “I’m just trying to find balance” and things like that, I’m pretty sure it’s one of those let’s-keep-everyone-average lies. 

Here’s what I mean. Let’s take a look at the value it provides in our lives…

On the one hand, balance is completely unaware of seasons in our life. As my husband says, it has no “situational awareness.” Balance is this unattainable perfect ratio of X% of our time working X% of our time with family and friends and X% resting.

On the other hand, it is a resource for guilt and shame because we don’t hit those ratios and feel balanced.

Finally, what would the result be if our life did look balanced? What if work needed more time? Or your family needed more time? Would you resent either if they threw off the balance?

If you were to look at any of the Olympians out there on the slopes and on the courses and rinks, would you ever say “you know, I bet they live a balanced life.”

Let’s be real, the Olympics would not capture our attention like it does if the promise was to feature “balance” – of course on the ice and in the air – but balance in the context we’re talking about today.

It’s so interesting – we as people (I see it over and over again) and this desire inside of us that draws us toward greatness. We want to be around greatness. We want to be great.

And that’s why, like I said, we love the Olympics. We want to see people who are the best at what they do, break records, achieve the unachievable, win against all odds… be great!! 

Look at our summer blockbusters like Wonder Woman. I’ll admit, I love those movies. When the heroes band together, they live a balanced life. They clock in and out at the same time everyday. They keep their work/life balance on point. Because that’s the goal.

Ok, I hope I’ve made my point. Because every time my hubby Drew and I walk out of a great action movie, I look at Drew and ask “Don’t you kind of feel like you just saved the world?”

Yes!! We do!! Because it’s that pull toward greatness inside of us that’s coming to life.

So, we have this draw toward greatness but then we’re told to be balanced.

Can you see my frustration here?

Like I said, I came down pretty hard on this idea of balance.

So, how can we UnSabotage this thought that we have to be balanced?

In talking with many friends and even family who are working on big goals and have accomplished great things, they’ve agreed with my working hypothesis and here it is: it’s much more about rhythms and presence than it will ever be about balance.

Let’s go back to the Olympians: there is a training season, a preforming season, a publicity season, and an off season. I’m 100% certain they have no expectation of achieving balance.

You know why? Balance won’t get them to the Olympics. Rhythms will. Seasons will. 

And even though I know movies like Wonder Woman are stories, same thing. Balance won’t save the world from evil. 

There’s a time for high-level, there’s a time for lower level, but they may be months apart. Your rhythm could look like a weekly one, or a monthly one, or a quarterly one.

So, that’s rhythm. The other part is presence.

Just like the Olympians and Wonder Woman, even though their life doesn’t look “balanced” they are fiercely present. They have to be present to be great. I’m sure they have to be present with any family time they get. 

So, I challenge you to change the way you’re looking at balance in this two-part challenge:

1. It’s worth taking note and naming the season you’re in right now. And do you see a season coming up? Are you in the middle of a launch? Or are you writing a book? Or are you in a fulfillment season? What ever it is, name it.

2. Be present. As you transition from work to home or from home to work, take those minutes of transition to remind yourself to be present when you show up. Whether or not you take my first challenge of Seasons, consider this one. You may have a truly “balanced” life of being physically present at work, at home, or wherever, but if you’re not mentally present, you may as well not be there. Or… you may be in a very busy season but super present at home with family and feel MUCH more fulfilled. 

P.S. I heard a reporter covering the Olympics mention this phrase almost in passing and I thought you’d like to hear it, too: To be a legend in the sport, you have to change it. 

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