Balance Has a Bad Rap

When we hear the word balance, one might think of:

  • in college: sleep X social life X school balance
  • in “the real world”: work X life balance

And at times balance seems like something that “would be so nice to have but just isn’t possible… there have to be tradeoffs!”

Furthermore, we might think not only is balance a “nice to have” but also, can we really achieve success or mastery without this tradeoff? Can we really achieve our goals without prioritizing and picking a few things (or one thing) to immerse ourselves in and focus all of our energy on?

From this perspective, balance seems like something we actually shouldn’t desire (at least temporarily, in the now).

But is it possible to have our cake (balance) and eat it too (reach our goals)?

I think it is possible, but it involves a reframing of how one thinks of balance.

Our mental image of balance is distorted because we tend to equate balance to stillness:

the calm repose of a yogi balancing on one leg, a state without apparent motion, a state without apparent motion.

Creativity, Inc.

In this still environment (think right now) we tend to think as balance as a zero-sum game where hours of time are traded off between buckets of activities.

But, if we think of balance in the context dynamic responses to rapidly changing environments, all of a sudden, balance seems… sexybalance seems… like a must have:

when a basketball player spins around a defender, a running back bursts through the line of scrimmage, or a surfer catches a wave.

Creativity, Inc.

In this rapidly changing environment balance is actually crucial whether thats in:

  • sports: basketball, football, figure skating, olympic weightlifting… really any sport
  • work or school: instead of trying to find 10x more time in a day, find ways to do things with 1/10 of the effort
  • sleep: find a way to sneak in a 20 min restorative power nap (on the topic of things that have a bad rap, naps are often derided as a sign of laziness or weakness, but they actually boost alertness, creativity, mood and alertness)

We can think of these examples as dynamic responses to to rapidly changing environments (life) and from this perspective, balance changes from a nice-to-have to something one absolutely needs.


Note: I wasn’t sure if the term was “bad rep”, “bad wrap”, or “bad rap” but after a trip to grammarist.com I learned the difference between the terms:

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