What You’re Not Being Told About Achieving Balance
One of the biggest dilemmas of the entrepreneurial lifestyle is about finding work/life balance. I’m smiling as I bring this message to you because I’ve had quite the journey regarding this topic, and there’s a lot of humor in the challenges and intensity that have shaped my own path to discovering how to truly live in balance. Let me take some time to share with you some essential lessons that I’ve learned along the way.
When I started my path as an entrepreneur, I had no concept of balance. I had to suffer serious burnout before I realized I was creating a fundamental breakdown in my own system, missing the point of balance entirely.
The irony here is that I naturally gravitated to the world of wellness. Fresh out the gate, at 17, 18 years old, I became heavily involved in martial arts. Eventually I started running Martial Arts schools, then therapy centres, hypnotherapy centres, and shiatsu centres; I was studying and offering all kinds of wellness modalities which encourage balance – like Japanese acupressure and bodywork.
I had no idea what balance was. In fact, I thought that those who espoused living a balanced lifestyle were old farts and fogies who would never get to experience the passion, the excitement, the vivaciousness of life!
Boy, was I wrong. But I didn’t get that until a little later.
In the Chinese system of philosophy, there’s the Yin, or more receptive side of our being, and there’s the Yang, or more active side of our being.
Yang energy is the “Go for it!,” forward moving, driving, directional, goal-oriented aspect within our consciousness. And I had a lot of it.
An excess, in fact. At the time, I was deeply influenced by all of the accomplishment gurus out there, Tony Robbins being one of them. All the teachings from the west about attainment, achievement, breaking through obstacles, and attaining more – drove me to get really juiced up, really fired up in my training and my work.
Martial arts was the cornerstone of my life. I was having great success there. I was conquering, winning, and pushing hard. But this is a Universe of balance; wherever there is an excess of a certain energy, an opposing energy is applied. The cost of expressing so much Yang energy showed up in different areas of my life.
There was a cost to my sleep – that was a big one for me. I would be wired up, I’d be studying, I’d be training, I’d be working on my business, and I would keep going when I ought to have slept. Inevitably, what would happen is I’d say, “I’ll catch up on sleep on the weekend.” Little did I know I was just burning myself out.
I’d show myself the symptoms of imbalance sometimes. At the dojo, I would feel less motivated; I’d be dragging my feet and wishing I was at home. When I was at home, I was always hoping I’d have more energy and more time for my business. I definitely could have spent more time with Suzanne, my wife (my girlfriend at the time). As a result, I was never fully present in either environment. It was an experience of being fractured, of not being rested in the Dao, in the spirit of this very moment. Disregarding balance proved a subtle but significant cost: I was missing the richness of the moment.
When I came to this level of self-realization, I sought to bring balance back into the forefront of my learning.
On this path, there’s been one mentor who has really stood out for me. His name is Kevin Nations, and he taught me his philosophy of finding balance through the cultivation of the “F’s”:
Of course, we can expand upon this list to include Fun, or F*cking, or Philanthropy (it’s a stretch, but you get the idea.)
Kevin expressed these F’s in a way that really hit me, to the core. He said, “It’s not about achieving a balance between these aspects for balance’s sake. It’s realizing that having balance in these aspects creates our freedom.”
Faith: having a belief in ourselves, a belief in spirit, in a connectivity; Family; having and nurturing our bonds with our loved ones; Finance: experiencing wisdom and peace in our earnings, our savings, our investing, and our spending; Fitness: Having the vitality and the health to live our lives.
Each aspect is one fibre of the rope of freedom, and the more each is strengthened, the more unbreakable the rope becomes.
When I saw the brilliance of this simple philosophy, I had an A-ha! Moment.
Contrary to my belief, balance was not about having stricter time management, dashing between each aspect of my life in an effort to fulfill an obligation. Before, I might have thought, “Alright, now I gotta spend time with my family,” and exerted my Yang energy once again to meet the criteria of the family man – when really what I needed was a hard reset on the balance of my entire operating system.
When I realized that I was stuck in a mode of consciousness that was in and of itself imbalanced, I stopped venerating obligation, pressure, and tension. I started to recognize that equilibrium was my true power.
What most will not tell you about balance is that it is an experience of spiritual ecstasy. It is synonymous with the kind of freedom that only comes from self-realization; when one is committed to knowing themselves free of all obligations, dualities, outdated paradigms, and common identities. Balance and equilibrium are a spiritual cultivation that happens on the deepest levels of being.
When I make my Faith in myself a priority, I take time to meditate, to do inner work on myself, to go on retreats of quietude, self-awakening and self-realization, to connect back with the source of existence and nature itself. Faith development for me also includes reading excellent books, taking trainings, and developing the mastery of my sense of connectedness to spirit, which in turn up-levels how I relate to the world, how I view things, the paradigms I see – my internal “software,” if you will.
Stemming from Faith is an energy that infuses the body with a sense of power. The awakening that I get from within gives me the direction and the strength to say yes to my Fitness – my training, my health, and my vitality. The more I allow my health and vitality to come into balance, the more spring I feel in my step. I cultivate deeper breathing and endurance through exercise. I feel nourished and whole with the attention I give to my food, to my consumption.
All this energy, when balanced, influences how I am with my Family. I’m no longer burned out at the end of the day; I have ample energy for them. I can give them my eyes, my heart connection. I can look into my wife’s eyes, and not just say, “I’ll see you later. I need to rest a bit.” I can just be with her, fresh in the moment. That connection, that fluidity, that joy that’s in my family from sharing the yearning, and the desire to be together – brings a soul level joy and comfort that then infuses me to do greater business, to expand in my Finances.
Now the fire that is stoked in my home life inspires me to say, “Yes, I can take this power I’ve got at home, this solid anchor I have, and I can now go into my business life and conquer these obstacles. I can create the architecture of my spending, my savings, my earnings, and my investing as I need to. I can move things forward in a way that’s grounded in joy, in flow.” To arrive at our Finances from this perspective is about appraising our situation and adjusting our methods of managing our money to bring greater peace and wisdom into the whole thing. Ultimately, balance in our Finances means feeling the peace, clarity, joy, and freedom that you can experience what you want in your life.
There are so many, infinite teachings out there about balance, about levelling out the Yin and Yang energies in our lives. What I have come to discover is that there is an art to cultivating balance, which in and of itself creates a peak state of existence called equilibrium.
So you see, my friend, I’ve come to discover that equilibrium is actually the key to ecstasy. What I’m talking about, and now bringing to other high-level CEOs, is a next-level balance that goes way beyond the boring ideas that I had in the 80’s and 90’s, when I started my entrepreneurial journey.
Equilibrium goes way deeper than that. It’s a spiritual way of life; it is a way of profound magic. What’s most awesome and integral to it all is that there’s no arriving at equilibrium; there’s only the realizing of it, and playing in it.
So I’m inviting you and challenging you to dismantle your old views of what “work/life balance” could be, and entertain an existence where you can actually flow in life with great power, and immense love, experiencing freedom, and flow, and evoking greater and greater wisdom from every aspect of your life.