One thing I know from getting it wrong and then getting it right, is that you will find it easier to achieve and sustain success with horses if you have balance. Not just the kind of balance that helps you to stay on your horse, but the sort of balance that keeps you from having a breakdown or a breakup on the way to success. You’ve heard of work-life balance. It is also important to have horse-life balance.
There are times, of course, when the best way to win is not to keep score, because if you are preparing for something big, balance will take second place for a while. In her book, How We Lead Matters: Reflections on a Life of Leadership, Marilyn Carlson Nelson makes the following observations: “The fact is that being a leader in any field requires discipline, effort, and, yes, sacrifice. It can be all consuming. And during that time, life may not have much balance… Personally, I liken being a CEO to being an Olympic athlete. It’s an exhaustingly gruelling yet richly rewarding time when you’re at the top of your game. And I ask you, when was the last time you heard an Olympic athlete complain about work/life balance?”
However, on the way to peaking for the Olympics, balance will keep the wheels on your mind, your body, your relationships, your job and other important elements of your life.
First of all, I need to acknowledge the person who introduced this concept to me. Her name is Susanne Rix, a behavioural scientist and author of “Superworking: How to Achieve Peak Performance Without Stress”. I will be forever grateful for having participated in one of Susanne’s Superworking® courses in the early 90s.
It’s been a while, though, so what follows is based on my recollection.
In brief, having balance in our lives allows us to function better and longer, with less stress, less downtime through illness or burnout, and greater innovation.
Balance can be illustrated by a simple pie chart. When I first drew my pie at the Superworking® course, showing the way I usually spent my time back then, it contained only four segments, the biggest of which was for work. The other three slices, probably in descending order of size, were for health & exercise, relationship and family. Not good.
A better pie makes room for many more things – around eight segments, in fact. Obviously, not all segments are of equal size all the time, but all need to have a definite and continuous presence in your life for maximum effect. Here is how the segments of my old, sad, unbalanced pie looked, side by side with the balanced pie I recommend and try to achieve today:
The balanced pie needs to comprise the following elements (some of which may overlap) in order to keep us physically, mentally, emotionally and financially fit. The numbers do not denote ranking, as all are necessary for peak performance.
You will note that the above list promotes the functioning of both sides of the brain – this is a key to getting the most productivity with the least effort.
What’s that? You don’t have time to fit it all in? That’s what I thought too, until I tried it. I found that it wasn’t so difficult and the more I consciously sought balance, the easier EVERYTHING became. There’s a kind of domino effect that comes from the wellbeing it brings.
I hope that all that makes sense. Have you experienced anything similar? Post a comment to join in the conversation.
Happy pie balancing!
From a very early age I have been able to tune in to what horses and ponies were thinking and what they were likely to do next.