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If you feel the tension of a tug-of-war between your professional and personal lives, you're not alone. All of us have demands outside work, even as our businesses sometimes seem to need constant attention. Regardless of individual circumstances, each of us is given the same 24-hour day and time/priority management is essential.

A classic metaphor used to describe the concept of work-life balance is a teeter-totter. Visualize work and home life alternately rising to your attention, back and forth, day-in day-out. Perhaps we try to leave one behind and focus on the other, while, as the rider, stay balanced and not fall.

Leaders Need To Be More Agile

I like to use a more advanced metaphor to describe the balancing act leader's face. Think of someone riding a bicycle. It takes skill to master, is never static and always moving forward. One needs to pay attention to staying upright and in motion. You do not balance on a stationary bicycle... you would fall over! Your personal and professional lives do not alternate in and out of attention - the two are integrated, both encompassed in the journey.

The rider needs to pay attention to where s/he is going as well, because one is navigating towards a destination. There will be decisions that have to be made on the spot, constant adjustments to maintain balance, and responses to obstacles encountered on the road.

The experience at the top of an organization, like riding a bicycle, can be also be isolating. Challenges are often faced alone.

Riding a bicycle is not easy; you risk crashing along the way, even as an established rider. When a crash does happen, it takes determination to get up and get going again. Life itself is just as dynamic.

Staying Balanced and On Track

What enables some to accomplish more within a given time period than others? The answer is simple. Our effectiveness as leaders depends on the priorities we set, and our ability to adhere to them at various intervals.

Sometimes, no matter what our priorities are at the start of the day, the agenda goes out the window. We need to accommodate and make up for lost hours when we can. Some days are more challenging than others. Knowing your priorities, in order, your objectives and your reason for being on "the bicycle" in the first place, are essential for navigating towards success.

Consider The Whole Journey

Don't just focus on time management over a 24-hour period; ask yourself if you are effectively setting and managing your priorities on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis.

Yet, even that is too short term. The ultimate question is "What do you want out of your life?" You need to know your final destination before you can figure out the best path to get there. We will tackle that question in a future article.

Like the bicycle ride, life and leadership require this dynamic balance.

Understand that:

  • We only control the decisions we make.
  • We make them at the moment we face them.
  • We make them based on the values and goals we set for ourselves

This is key to your plan for success. Learn to stay balanced while in motion. The journey may be bumpy, but your success is the destination.


Larry Hart

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