Why Balance is Possible—And What It Really Means

by admin 25. June 2013 11:55

Today author Jim Cusumano chats with us about the true definition of balance.

So, let’s start with the title of your book, "Balance." Work/life balance is a hot topic—and, often, a confusing one. Depending how one defines “balance,” it can feel like an impossible goal. What does “balance” mean to you?

Balance, as I define it, is placing optimal physical and emotional effort in both your professional and personal endeavors, so that you achieve the goals you have set in both areas of your life, and doing so in a way that is highly effective and provides you with long-term personal satisfaction and fulfillment.

Achieving balance isn’t just about being happier, right? It’s a critical part of professional success. In what ways is this true—and why?
Balance is about achieving fulfillment in both your personal and professional lives. Here is what it is and how you can make it happen:

You first must discover you personal essence—that special capability that sets you apart from many others in your circle ... Then you must find a need in this world that you can address in some way with your personal essence that makes the world a better place to be. You have now found your life purpose.

In doing so, significant levels of physical and emotional energy become available to you. This lights up the right side of your brain with intense creativity and allows you to very effectively address significant personal and professional challenges. This leads to innovation and with that comes a return (financial, emotional, psychological, spiritual or some combination). This brings incredible gratitude, which is the basis for all long-term fulfillment. For this path to work best it must be matrixed with a values-based life plan (a three-year rolling plan). 

Is this the case for all types of business? Our readers our mostly women lawyers, building careers and businesses in a demanding field. 

This is the case for all types of businesses, although the intensity can vary, e.g., compare the potential conflicts for a grocery store owner and an emergency room physician. However, with a clear view of personal values, even an emergency room physician can find balance and long-lasting fulfillment.

You talk about Inspired Leadership. What are the qualities of an inspired leader, and how do these impact the culture of a firm?

Inspired Leaders are not necessarily anointed or appointed.  They have a calling, not just a job, or a career. And they need not be the CEO or General Manager.  Many times I have a seen a person in a team whom the team would be loathed to lose because that person, even though perhaps not the leader of the team, galvanizes the team with his or her energy. Four elements characterize an Inspired Leader:

1. She has found her life purpose and is pursuing her dream with passion.
2. Her passion inspires everyone around her.
3. She is committed to all stakeholders—employees, customers, investors, suppliers, community—the world.
4. She is compassionate.

Inspired leaders serve others by helping them reach their human potential.  Those they serve not only exhibit outstanding performance, but also make the world a better place.  Once a corporate environment adopts an Inspired Leadership culture, it will never return to any other.  The benefits are overwhelming.  

Last, what tips do you have for finding success in both business and life?

If you have not already done so, the most important thing you can do in your personal and professional lives is to take the time, as I show in my book, to find your life purpose and pursue the path I have outlined above, which is a key component of my book.  If you have been in a personal and professional situation for a long time and it is not fulfilling, I can promise you it is never too late to change your life and find lasting fulfillment.  Ray Kroc was a piano player in a jazz band and then a salesman for ice cream blenders before he founded McDonalds at age 52.  Harland “Colonel” Sanders was 65 before he founded KFC—so it is never impossible, nor too late!

James A. Cusumano, Ph.D. is the author of BALANCE: The Business – Life Connection. He co-founded Catalytica, Inc., a public company based in Silicon Valley with business divisions in clean energy and pharmaceuticals. He now lives in Prague where he and his wife Inez renovated Chateau Mcely into an award-winning luxury castle spa hotel and retreat. 


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