Balance is NOT a Tradeoff
Written by Bryce Smith

We hear this concept of balance tossed around all too often. When we think of balance, we often think of standing on one foot, or a seesaw-type analogy. This then funnels us to what most people think of as work-life balance.

The successful Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, came out and said that balance is not what we should be pursuing. He further explained that balance implies that our relationship with work and life should be a tradeoff, but should it really?

Bezos believes that your relationship with work and life is more of a circle than it is a tradeoff(1). We should not be tasked to pick one or the other. You do not have to stay up late every single night or wake up at 4 a.m. to be successful. Those techniques are successful for some but destroy the lives of others.

I often see people sacrifice health for career success. It does not have to be like that. We do not have to choose. We simply must learn to be present and keep the important parts of our lives moving so as to not get stagnant or have one aspect of our lives outweigh the others by too much. Not to mention, most of us have a lot more on our plates than just work and life. We have multiple platforms like friends, social life, spirituality, nutrition, health, fitness, hobbies, work, life and family. A simple analogy is that this balance concept is like a frisbee balancing on a pencil where we balance all of the above moving parts.

It is kind of like being a jack of all trades versus a specialist. In the fitness world, it’s like being a great weightlifter but struggling in gymnastics and conditioning. If you are so good in one category, but struggle in multiple other categories, you are not very well rounded and the frisbee will not continue to spin on the pencil. When referring to anatomy, if you are over-developed in certain muscle structures, it will result in inefficient movement and therefore make the person more susceptible to injury.

The key is to keep the AMRAP mentality, popularized by Jason Khalipa, where you are fully present on the task at hand. The AMRAP mentality refers to “as many rounds and reps as possible” of a given task for a certain time domain.

This concept has helped many successful people achieve balance with the many hats they wear. When you are snatching, you are focused on optimizing technique and efficiency with that movement. You are not thinking about the traffic you hit enroute to the gym.

When you are with your kids, or your significant other, you are fully invested in them and building special memories with them.

I see so many people multitasking these days and they never dedicate their full headspace to the exact task at hand. Next time you go out to eat, pay attention to how many people are on their phones while someone is trying to talk to them.

Next time you are at the gym, pay attention to how many people are on their phones messing with music playlists, social media, or texting while they should be focused on their workouts.

Watch how many people strive to “multitask”, and in turn, never get anything done. Focus on one thing at a time, and watch all of the platforms mentioned above continue to move and improve. Simplifying the focus to single tasks will not only make us more present, but will in turn keep our lives more productive and more balanced.

References:
Döpfner, Mathias. “Jeff Bezos Reveals What It’s like to Build an Empire and Become the Richest Man in the World – and Why He’s Willing to Spend $1 Billion a Year to Fund the Most Important Mission of His Life.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 28 Apr. 2018, www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-interview-axel-springer-ceo-amazon-trump-blue-origin-family-regulation-washington-post-2018-4.

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