Walking the Tightrope of Life:
Maintaining Balance and Spirit
Michael A. Hinz, PhD
September 1, 2001
probably heard the saying: thats
the spirit. You might have heard it
when someone had a winning attitude as they
tackled a difficult project. Success often hinges
on someone building a fire under someone, that
is, getting them motivated, inspired, and
activated. A highly motivated, inspired attitude
can accomplish almost anything. Imagine a life
full of that kind of spirit. It is infectious and
spreads like wildfire. Someone with that kind of
spirit is fully alive, living courageously,
passionately, and living a life that is true to
his or her values with integrity, character and
fulfillment. That is impressive to see, and that
is what I mean by spirit.
achievements (no matter in which area of ones
life they occur) are possible when balance and
fullness of spirit are maintained. We each have
unique talents, abilities and creative
potentials, which we try to utilize in some
purposeful way to make a difference and get a
feeling of satisfaction from life. The power of
purpose is the energy that carries us forth in
life and gives us direction. Maintaining a
balanced life allows us to accomplish great
things without depleting our self in the process.
So why strive
for balance? Most of us must think we are the
Eveready Bunny, the way we try to do everything
and keep going and going until we crash. Thats
where the balance comes in. We cannot
possible live up to our full potential if we are
running on empty most of the time. We have to
have a constant energy source and maintain a
reserve supply. Thats where spirit
is grounded in all of those things, which make
each of us uniquely, who we are. You have
probably noticed how excited and passionate some
individuals become when they are championing a
cause, project, vision or something of importance
to them. They are like a dynamo of energy that
surges forth overcoming all obstacles in the way
and success is soon at hand. That is the creative
potential that lies within each of us.
minded individual thrives on the expectation of
excellence, creativity, growth, challenge,
stretching the limits, and basks in the
rejuvenating glow of satisfaction in a job well
done. That individual is living a life full of spirit.
Creating a Road map for a Spirit Filled Life and Workplace
Each of us
needs to create our own unique road map for
walking the tightrope of life. Life has a
beginning and ending with much in between. It is
filled with hopes, dreams, visions,
accomplishments, setbacks, frustrations,
annoyances, potentials and possibilities.
Stretched between beginning and end is a
tightrope that we each walk with the hope of not falling off.
We each have
different goals, purposes and different places
towards which we are heading. Therefore, each
road map will be unique. The final destination
has unique significance and relevance to each of
us individually. However, it is about the process
of getting there that I now focus your attention.
A Journey of Steps:
Step 1: Begin examining your attitude (your
spirit) by answering the following questions:
- If you did
not have to work, would you? Why or why not?
- What are
those areas of your work life that drain
you and what are those areas that refresh you?
- Why do the
drainers deplete you? Are the activities
contrary to your values, or some other reason?
- What is it
about the refreshers that rejuvenate you?
Are they activities that utilize your
strengths and talents and reflect your
values and purpose?
- What do you
look forward to at work?
- What do you
look forward to in Life?
- What fulfills
your creative desires, social desires,
altruistic values, or whatever values and
needs you are seeking to fulfill?
Establishing the endpoints of the tightrope.
to the above questions reveal your underlying
attitude, purpose and work ethic. This is the
starting point on your map. This is where you are
right now. Where do you want to go? What is your
destination? This will constantly change and
evolve over time. The significance is not so much
in what the destination is, but in that there is
something you are striving for, so you will have
the motivation to start the journey.
Step 3: Creating the process that will ensure
that you get there.
I am assuming
that you seek to be fully alive with passion,
energy and spirit. In Step 1 you formed a glimpse
into your expectations for the world of work,
your life, and how well they are being satisfied.
You identified some of the things that drain your
energy and some that replenish it. The next
obvious step is to create a simple plan for
decreasing the drainers and increasing the
energizers. Use your creativity to brainstorm
some possible solutions. Some possibilities might include:
- Change your
schedule to do the most demanding tasks
when you have the most energy
yourself frequently (with praise,
acknowledgment, a rest break, a snack,
etc.) for completed tasks
- Spread your
energizers throughout the day to better
maintain your energy level
- Ask for
assistanceyou are not an expert on
everything (share the expertise around
the officethat is what it is there for)
- Take frequent
breaks to rejuvenate (physically and mentally)
- Ask for or
seek out more challenging opportunities
that will better utilize your strengths
- Learn to
delegate (allow others the chance to also
better utilize their potentials)
- Decide which
of your values are worth fighting for and
which are not. Then develop a plan or
strategy for communicating your concerns
to the appropriate party (and go prepared
with possible solutions that the two of
you can brainstorm about as a team)
your own limits and how to best honor and
live within those limits.
are just a few ideas to get you started. The
ideas you create here begin a process of change.
Not change just for the sake of changing
something, but change because your needs are not
being served. You are tweaking the process so
that it better serves your expectations and so
that you are able to thrive in the process. Put
these ideas together into a rough plan or
strategy and remain open to new ideas and
Step 4: Implement your plan.
Once you have
some ideas, begin to put them into action. Make
sure you take small enough steps to ensure your
immediate success. If you dont succeed at
first, remind yourself that you probably took too
big a step and try again with a smaller one. We
like to get to our destination fast, but we are
usually better served if we slow down and just
take it one step at a time. It is difficult to
keep everything in balance, but we can accomplish
much more than we ever thought possible if we can
maintain the balance, our energy and attitude.
Now that a new beginning has been initiated, keep
the momentum going.
Step 5: Evaluate the progress being made.
With this new
road map you have created, it is important to
stop and evaluate your progress along the way.
This is a very fluid process and the only thing
that you can depend on is that frequent and
unexpected changes are guaranteed. Therefore, you
will need to repeat the steps and tweak the
process in order to stay on task and to continue
to make the kind of progress you are seeking.
significance of maintaining balance and
fullness of spirit lies in the assurance that
no matter what, you will not fall off the
tightrope of life. It takes balance and energy to
not fall off. Balance is defined as keeping the
demands on you in life balanced - not too much
and not too little. Spirit is defined as that
success oriented attitude that helps keep you
going. By maintaining a proper balance and a
fullness of spirit in all areas of your life, you
will always be ready for whatever happens. You
will look forward to the adventures and
challenges that are yet to come. You will find
that your work is not only rewarding and
satisfying, but that it also rejuvenates you.
Your life will be filled with new vigor and
vitality that will facilitate the maintenance of
your balance and spirit. Thats the