Work-Life Balance…Or?

“When you’re gone would you rather have your headstone say, ‘He never missed a meeting.’ Or one that said, ‘He was a great father.'” ~ Steve Blank

Cultures are often ripe with buzz words; expressions that are easily thrown into everyday discourse. In my work, one I hear frequently is work-life balance. It’s a noble (and I might add for some, necessary) pursuit, one which many people feel compelled to achieve. Yet what is that balance? Is it attainable? And is it important?

In an April 2013 TEDxPSU Talk, Speaker and Author Dan Thurmon advocates for an interesting alternative to work-life balance. I’ve inserted the video of his presentation below yet I thought it worthwhile to highlight some of the points he makes.

Mr. Thurmond believes it is okay to be “off balance.” In fact, he acknowledges that state of being as reality. Rather than striving for balance in our lives, he encourages functioning in an imbalanced world and instead, living “on purpose.” And by “on purpose” he means becoming more connected to what has meaning, learning new patterns, experimenting, exploring and experiencing. Thurmond believes we need to be “off balance” to learn and he gives some examples.

He further suggests we slow down and notice things. (Awareness!) He talks about the need to understand what matters most in our lives and what is personally purposeful to you.

Thurmond believes we never reach our full potential, that we are always growing. To continue learning and growing he challenges people to lean into their uncertainty (yes, that fear-filled space where many are hesitant to go). He believes people ought to do more to embrace opportunities and in the importance of being fully present.

He speaks a language I understand. I’d just not previously seen the merits of intentionally living “on purpose” as an alternative to expending energy trying to achieve and sustain (an elusive?) work-life balance. Besides, not everyone seeks the holy grail of work-life balance.

In my opinion, Thurmond’s perspectives are worthy of consideration. Following is his TEDxPSU Talk if you’re interested in learning more.

14 thoughts on “Work-Life Balance…Or?

  1. “…we are always growing. To continue learning and growing he challenges people to lean into their uncertainty”.
    Eric, I think that living “off balance” prolongs life and makes it much more interesting not only for yourself but for people around you.

  2. Off balance … the reality …. on purpose …. with meaning …. that’s what causes change. The purpose of purpose …. WOW! Amazing. Thanks for posting this, Eric. I am going to practice living “off-balance” more. Love it!!!

  3. I can’t wait to watch the video, but first I’m digesting your post. I really wish I would have read this months and months ago. I fight for work-life balance all the time – and when you step back and really think about it, as you have, the entire notion is pretty ridiculous. There is no such thing, it is not something that is reachable – I know, because I have not reached nor will I ever. I work to support my family and our individual and collective interests. I enjoy my work and its challenges, for the most part, but work will never compare or balance with my family (or writing). The balance will always be out of wack. And it should be! I love the idea of living in the “off balance.” Accepting this idea, and the fact that it is okay to be in this arena, can get rid of another thing to worry about. I love it. Thanks, Eric. πŸ™‚

    • I’m smiling as I reply, Dominic, as I know how you feel. We chart our course, navigate unchartered waters (e.g, life), sense we’re captaining as expected and then we encounter a sand bar — Dan Thurmond’s of the world. πŸ™‚ So shed another worry, dude. It can get easier. Glad the message found you ripe.

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