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February 7, 2017

Balance: Not Just for Acrobats and Accountants

By | Be Genuine, Invoke Passion, Motivate Others

In a recent conversation with a friend (the paid professional kind), it was pointed out to me that many of the personality traits that serve me well, also can work against me. This individual, who shall remain nameless, then went on yammering about the importance of finding balance, and managing my personality traits so they can work for me, and not against me. The whole “balance” word sent me into a tizzy in general, but it DID remind me that assets and liabilities are not just accounting terms.

As a personal mantra, I am continually seeking growth in all areas of my life. This includes emotional, mental, spiritual, financial and physical. Some days I have it all dialed in (Ok, I almost never have it dialed in across all of these categories but one can dream). Some days I am just way, way off. I learned long ago that our behavior is a combination of personal characteristics, some that can be adjusted and some we just have to deal with. The inherent behaviors that make us who we are, can often sit on the asset or liability side of our personal balance sheets.

When we think of people we admire and respect, we each have our own description of what that person is like, based on our assessment (or judgement) of their personality traits. When we think about the things we like about ourselves and the things we want to change, it would seem straightforward. So how do we get tripped up? One way we can gain a new perspective is to consider these common personality traits, and how they each can be an asset or a liability depending on the situation.

Quick thinking – The ability to make decisions quickly (especially in a startup environment) is crucial. This helps with solving problems, pivoting when obstacles are thrown your way, answering a client’s questions, speaking in public. It makes business meetings less sucky in general and can help fill your belly when faced with the “what should we eat” question. All good stuff right? It can also save you from overthinking and procrastination – two of the biggest productivity killers and fear feeders I can think of.

But can’t this also be a “negative”? Think for example of that boss that just made decisions without knowing the facts? Or the person who never listens to anyone else because they just have to plow through things. Or the worst ever – the person who chooses a restaurant without even consulting Yelp or some other review source.

Hardworking/Determined — I know what you are thinking, how can being hardworking work against us? Well…. I may just know a thing or two about this. The ability to push through hard things helps us in all aspects of our life – personal and professional. I am often admired for this while at the same time this is a huge liability for me and leads to (sometimes destructive) imbalance.

Sometimes you have to put on the brakes, take a break, not push too hard, let other people handle things, ask for help (see more about asking for help here). You simply cannot always be, always on. You will burn out and surely throw yourself off from any chance of emotional, physical and spiritual balance.

Outspoken — I love a person with a strong opinion, someone who tells it like it is, someone who is willing to disagree and generally anyone who speaks their mind. It is a quality I tend to greatly admire. On the other hand, no one loves a loudmouth, chronic complainer or someone who doesn’t know how to shut up (stop rolling your eyes at me right now). If being outspoken means you can’t listen, aren’t open to other’s ideas or input or don’t know how to just be quiet, then it totally becomes a liability.

Lazy – This word is instantly labeled as negative. Except maybe by lazy people. Associated with sloth, sluggishness and general indifference or lack of desire to do things, there is also a danger in overdoing it. Everyone needs some downtime every once in a while. I should note, this is such a challenge for me personally because I also think of rest, self-care and general relaxation as that bad L word. Because I have a negative connotation in my mind, I tend to ignore the importance of a lazy Sunday afternoon to reset.

Analytical/Strategic –  Those who have the ability to break down a problem, look at it from different angles, add perspective and add value right? True and … sometimes this can be a liability. Overanalyzing things, avoiding decisions, causing things to go on and on and on (you get the point) can be unproductive, not to mention annoying. Also, some “issues” are deserving of deep analysis and consideration while others are not. Sometimes you just have make a freakin’ decision and move on.

When you are feeling unbalanced emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially or any other “ally” take a quick inventory – where are things sitting on that personal balance sheet of yours? What is working well for you? Conversely when you are out of balance in any one area, what is not working? What can you do to move that thing from the liability to the asset side of the balance sheet?