For those of you who have been wondering if you missed a Coach Mahr blog post over the summer, rest assured you did not. My life has been overly hectic. I have always lived a full and busy life, often overextending myself. However, things got a little out of hand these past few months. We sold the house we lived in for 33+ years, purchased a home 200+ miles away, rented a townhouse to live in while we renovate the house we purchased, decluttered, and then moved everything from one place to two other places. Add to that, one of the three accounts I manage for work, and one of my company’s oldest and largest customers, fired us.
Through all of this, I became unbalanced. Fearful of not spending enough time on the urgent things in front of me, I failed to invest time on the things that matter most and keep me balanced. For those of you at a certain age, you may remember Erich Brenn from, “The Ed Sullivan Show,” likely the most famous plate spinner of all time, spinning eight plates on a table and five glass bowls on top of tall sticks. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cb6NS_F5xTE). In my case, some of those plates and bowls stopped spinning and disappointingly, Coach Mahr was one of them.
An unbalanced life loses sight of vision and purpose. We stop working toward achieving something better and focus on getting through the moment, simply existing. We become out of sync with our own rhythm. A rhythm built with intentional thoughts and actions over time. We start working to accomplish everything in front of us with little to no energy in reserve.
Early in my career I sold equipment for Power Generation Plants and Paper Mills where misalignment and unbalance are major concerns. The analogy of rotating machinery versus daily life is perfect. Unbalance happens when a rotating component’s center of mass becomes misaligned with its center of rotation – or in layman’s terms “what it is doing” versus “what it should be or was designed to do.” This causes an unexpected and unaccounted force on the supports as well as connected structures. The faster it spins, the more severe the forces. When we lose focus on what centers us and begin extending ourselves haphazardly, internal stress is created, which also affects those around us. The faster we let life spin, the more stress we create and emit.
Unresolved balance issues in machinery can lead to high repair costs and serious consequences, ranging from quality issues to breakdowns. An unbalanced life creates added health issues, a lower quality of life, and years of regret. We should be taking the necessary steps to correct or prevent being unbalanced. Correction must be planned and implemented. The two best ways to correct unbalanced parts include material removal and material addition – removing or adding the right amount of material from the correct place. When we find ourselves out of balance, we need to be intentional about what needs to be done to correct the situation. Is there something we should remove from our life? An activity, a toxic friend, bad diet, risky behavior?
For me, it is about what I need to put back in my life. Even though I am overly committed, I need to add the right material at the right place. I need to spend time doing those things that are core to who I am – blogging. reading, reflecting, praying. The very actions I feel I don’t have time to do are the elements I most need to be doing. I am living in Covey’s Quadrant 1 – Urgent and Important, with little time spent in Quadrant 2, Important and Non-Urgent.
Continuously living in Quadrant 1 is not healthy. I become drained, stressed, less fulfilled and unhappy. My schedule is externally controlled, always playing catch up. Quadrant 2 is what puts fuel and passion into my life. It is where things reside that matter most to me – relationships, hobbies, gaining knowledge, upgrading skills, health & fitness, and creative work, like blogging. Creating and sharing are the best things I can do to serve those around me, as well as my soul. When I blog, I stay on track. I feel at home. It reconnects me to my center.
In Ephesians 5:16, St. Paul offers helpful advice to stay balanced when he advocates to make the best use of the time. Paul is not comparing good with bad; he’s speaking of better and best. Some translations render this with the phrase, “redeeming the time” or literally purchasing time for the sake of freedom. We need to make better use of our time, and this is possible when we make decisions in alignment with our vision and priorities.
The best example I know is in Luke 10:38-42, Jesus’ dinner with Mary and Martha. Societal convention pushed Martha to serve immediately, but when Jesus is seated at your table, the dishes can wait. Giving undivided attention to the words of Jesus is of greater importance than the urgent act of service. As Goethe said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
I failed to follow my own words with regards to being mindful and intentional with my actions. I am glad to be re-centered. Coach Mahr is back.