We’ve had an exciting year of guests join us for the “Ask the Expert” interview series. We’ve given you a venue to connect with industry thought leaders and the opportunity to participate in inspiring conversations. This year we’ve spoken with Dr. Howard Gardner about being wonderfully human, Jane Pollak about possibility thinking, Dorothy Breininger about success, Dr. April Lane Benson about enlisting help, Leslie Josel about motivation, David Allen about time management, Peter Walsh about clutter, Sheila Delson about letting go, Laura Berman Fortgang about next steps, Judith Kolberg about change, and Sue West about fresh starts. To complete the year, I’m thrilled to bring you speaker, author, and coach, Dan Thurmon, to share his insights about life balance.
I’m a big Dan Thurmon fan! I’ve attended hundreds of presentations on a wide range of topics. Dan is one of the most unique, charming, and energy-filled presenters I’ve ever seen. I’ve had the pleasure of hearing him speak and perform twice at NAPO conferences as he motivated, enlightened, and persuaded us all while juggling large objects, tumbling through the air, and riding tall unicycles. Dynamic doesn’t begin to describe Dan! If you ever have the opportunity to hear him...GO! My gratitude goes to Dan for juggling his schedule and taking the time to join us. Before we begin, here’s more about him.
Dan Thurmon is the author of two books, Off Balance on Purpose and Success in Action, a renowned speaker, and a recognized expert in delivering peak performances – on stage and in the workplace. As president of Motivation Works, Inc., he has worked with hundreds of clients and delivered thousands of presentations worldwide. Dan helps organizations and individuals implement action plans and move confidently through transitions. You can connect with Dan on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blog or website.
Linda Samuels: People long for balance. I’ve heard you say that while that’s “intriguing and desirable,” it’s also “completely unrealistic.” Can you share more about that?
Dan Thurmon: Life is fluid and ever changing, so we cannot attain “perfect balance.” Balance should not be a goal but rather a skill. We “balance” competing demands for time, energy and action. We make decisions and adjustments to help improve our connection to what matters most in life. But our day-to-day experience is and will always be “off balance.” And that’s a good thing! You must be “off balance” in order to learn, grow, and contribute. That’s why I advocate living Off Balance On Purpose. This means that you own your circumstances, initiate changes, and act deliberately, not reactively. Also, we are more effective and engaged when our actions and lives are infused with purpose and meaning.
Linda: Aside from being a world-class speaker, coach, and author, you are also a consummate performer and juggler. You use juggling concepts to help your audiences understand your message. What is your favorite juggling analogy about life balance?
Dan: Well thank you! Juggling is a fantastic metaphor that teaches us, among other lessons, that we should look for “patterns” that connect the objects – or, our objectives. Instead of trying to isolate aspects of your life, look for ways to integrate them into a cohesive “pattern of action.” The other analogy involves riding a six-foot-tall unicycle as I demonstrate that, in order to make forward progress, you must be off balance, leaning into the change and uncertainty. It’s scary, but also exhilarating, as you are harnessing momentum for change!
Linda: What strategies are useful when we’re feeling overwhelmed and pulled in too many directions?
Dan: First, seek to clarify your purpose. What are you really trying to accomplish, and why is it important? And I don’t have to tell you that being organized is essential to staying in control. I believe it starts with organizing your thinking instead of being constantly redirected by the next “urgent” task. Also, I teach people how to create and strengthen “lifelines” between the aspects of life that matter most: Work, Relationships, Health, Spiritual Growth, and Personal Interests. If you view these “five spheres” as competing with one another, you will fight a losing battle. When you see them as integrated or blended into a “pattern,” however, you begin to see how they can support one another and work in harmony.
Linda: What has been your toughest personal life balance challenge?
Dan: As a husband and father of two children (ages 14 and 10), it is a challenge when my schedule takes me on the road for days at a time. But my wife and I have worked over the years to strengthen the “lifelines” that keep us connected. Sometimes I travel with my whole family, or with one of my kids. We often talk about the places I am visiting and the clients I work with. I’ve also used both of my kids, Eddie and Maggie, in my presentations. That way they truly understand what I do and we stay more connected, even when we are apart. And of course, I schedule family time at home to be sure they know how much they mean to me.
Linda: What is your most surprising discovery about being “off balance?”
Dan: When you develop a comfort with uncertainty, you often find new, fantastic opportunities that you would have otherwise missed completely. Life is exciting and ever changing, and when you find the “flow” of life and are able to engage its power, like a surfer atop a breaking wave, you will meet people, go places, and serve others in unexpected, wonderful ways.
Linda: Is there anything you’d like to share about life balance that I haven’t asked?
Dan: We’ve been told by well-intentioned experts that should we one day achieve a “balanced life,” we will be happier. But life is not a hypothetical future. It’s an undeniable present! And when you embrace uncertainty and choose to live Off Balance On Purpose, you will begin to experience greater happiness and control right where you are.
Thank you, Dan for sharing your wisdom about balance, or more accurately, living purposely off balance. So many of your ideas resonate with me from reframing balance not as a goal, but a skill, to acting deliberately instead of reactively, to developing a comfort with uncertainty, to leaning into change. I love your focus about now being, the “undeniable present,” rather than a “hypothetical future.” I could go on and on. But instead, let me open up the conversation to all of you.
I invite you to join Dan and me. Come share your thoughts about life balance. Is it illusive? What does balance look like to you? Have ideas sparked a perspective shift?