Leading through learning
Week 4: Balance
There have been points along my journey when I think balance is my ultimate life lesson. Over and over and over, I am aware that balance brings calmness and clarity to most, if not all, issues. Sometimes this awareness comes at the price of losing balance in my life in order to regain it. This cycle can be as painless or painful as I allow it to be. When I recognize the small warning signs: a missed appointment, a lost something, a scattered moment – these are all opportunities to take a moment and adjust the scales.
When I was younger, balance was between socializing and working – had to work to earn money, but wanted to socialize to make friends. As I grew in age and experience, balance became a juggling act between the many wonderful roles I acquired. I was already a learner, daughter, sister and friend, teacher, coach. Then I added wife, mother, leader, homeowner, community member, etc. Each time I added a role, I had to adjust to find balance. Sometimes, I did well; and, sometimes, everything falls so I can readjust not only the roles but my perspective as well.
At some point over the last few years, I learned that there was no point in trying to separate the many roles of my life. I am me. And my roles are ever changing and adjusting as time passes.
When I first became a mother, the scales had to completely reset. My life was no longer about me. I had no idea how much this addition to my life would change not only the balance but the way I looked at everything in the world. I had to rebalance and redefine my purpose due to the impact of this tiny 4.2 pound miracle. And when my second baby was born, although I was a little more ready for the shift – the scales of my life had to realign again.
My first year as an assistant principal was all-consuming – similar to my first year as a teacher. It was difficult for me to separate work and home. I thought about conversations, upcoming lessons, upcoming meetings. I was on my phone or computer after hours checking emails and preparing for the next day. This was draining and created an imbalance within my life. The warning signs were small but clear: a missed promised lunch with my son at school, car repair costs due to not getting tires rotated when they needed it, a missed water bill payment, a messy house and loads of laundry to clean and put up. These things were not life-altering, but clear warning signs of my inattention and my need for balance. So I had to change things. It is funny how in the moment, our minds can justify the mess, the miss, the neglect, as necessary.
This is when my family members serve to ground me. These relationships – this love – prevent the warning signs from growing into full blown chaos. Our shared love allows me to readjust with grace and humility. The only choice is whether I am open to them and the love. Can I hear the feedback without shutting down and drowning them out with my own rightness? They point out these signs and provide a different perspective. And half the time, simply the act of recognizing, being willing to look at the reality through their eyes, is all that I need to find my lost balance.Each time this realignment happens, it creates space in my life.
This is where I will end this week’s post. Next week will be about looking at this space and how it is created and lost. Without creating space to reflect, to listen, and to pause, am I learning? Am I effectively leading? Space allows for new learning, new appreciation, new joy, and ultimately, new leading.