Balance and Stability

Taken at Toms Burned Down CafeThe world is a crazy place.  Reliable is uncertain, known is questionable, and the clear path is obscured.  I find myself struggling for things that used to come naturally, reviewing my basic beliefs and reconsidering my options.  In nearly every role I play lately, I’ve been asking questions and finding that they are unanswerable at present.  I find this extremely frustrating.  And at the same time, I know that I have to work through it all.

This past summer, I spent some vacation time on Madeline Island.  It’s one of my favorite places; a place to disconnect with the world.  I normally go with family, but circumstances provided me with the opportunity to be there on my own for a few days.  It gave me a chance to try some new things and, more importantly, a time to reflect on some weighty issues.  While there, I grabbed a drink at Tom’s Burned Down Cafe, where I saw a sign that got me to thinking.  “Seek Balance, Not Stability”, it said.

Stability: The state of being stable  – not likely to change or fail; firmly established.

Stability was always a goal for me.  Stability allowed me to know what was most likely to occur next.  Stability meant that I always had enough resources, and that I had few real concerns.  I always knew I could count on myself, that I could remain afloat despite any turbulence that I encountered.  I strove for stability in my beliefs, my feelings and my actions.  I had a stable life in many respects.  It was also insular.  Too many external influences can topple you, if all you know is how to be stable.

Stability as a way of life, I learned, is a constant state.  It is not dynamic.  It doesn’t adjust.  It does not play well with reality.

Balance: Keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.

Deciding that stability didn’t work, I started to focus more on balance.  Balance would allow me to handle anything that life threw at me.  I started to take on new roles, new ideas, new opportunities.  As long as I continued to balance the priorities, I would be doing great.  Balance allowed me to sample anything that came my way.  All was great, and then things happened that caused me to stumble.  Stuff I never really considered or planned for.  Things I knew were true turned out not to be.  People I trusted were no longer who I thought they were.  Promises made were broken.  

Had I been living a “stable” life, I would have been knocked on my ass.  I assumed that, since I had balance, I would right myself.  Not so much.  It was then that it hit me.

In order to balance, I need stability.  You can’t build a house of cards on a table with two legs.  Stability without balance is potentially attractive, but it’s boring.  Balance without stability is temporary and scary.

So now I’m in a much better place.  I’ve reestablished my balance built on my core beliefs, my values, and the support of a handful of people who I know are there for me no matter what happens.  And on this platform, I am able to balance myself.  I’m taking on new challenges and looking to learn new things because I know I’m balancing on a solid foundation.  I may lose my balance again, and I know that I won’t fall because I’m stable underneath.  I’m ready to handle what comes next, even if I’m not entirely sure what that might be.

Find your stability, balance yourself, and you’ll have a world of opportunity ahead of you.

Change the Measures

GuagesOur measurements of success are standardized tests, grades, degrees, salary, perks and material things. Visions or values not based on these things are generally tossed aside.

During school, the measures are grades. We were graded based on how well we remembered the material we were taught. I acknowledge that some teachers and classes focus on using this information as the premise for new arguments or to question other arguments, but by and large we are regurgitating information we’ve been given. We are taught to follow the rules, rather than to think and question them. We are prepared to take a place in society, rather than to change it.

After school, we are measured by other external factors. How we think about things and create arguments is no longer relevant – except to the extent that these things get us a higher salary, more stuff, or more prestige. As we continue to focus on the more external measures, we give up more and more of our internal self.

Most of us work longer hours rather than pursuing our passion – that passion could be family, giving or that great idea that we buried in our past. There are those that have figured this out, who have good jobs but don’t subscribe to the trappings – they have found a balance. And they’ve done this through thinking, questioning and changing the measure. They know that if they strip away many of the material things they have, they still have an intrinsic happiness about them.

What measures should we adopt? What measures will help us Emerge from the past into the people we really want to be? A few that I’ve considered include how many others I’ve helped, and how much love have I shared with others? Intangible, I know – and yet, to me, much more valuable than my salary, the size of my house, or the type of car I drive.

I do not, however, believe that we’re ready to have these be the only measures we use. Society isn’t there yet. People who identify themselves as part of the “Tiny House” movement, for example, are viewed as outside the norm. We’re just not yet ready to accept that less can be more. So for now we have to combine these intrinsic measures with the extrinsic ones we’ve built society on. The good news is that they aren’t exclusive – there are lots of extrinsically “valuable” people who are doing lots of great things in the world through their support of various charities and causes and I truly believe that they are doing this because they enjoy the “giving back”. We don’t have to spend years in a prison cell, experience oppression, or go off to live in the woods in order to find that intrinsic value. We just have to change the measures.

Belief Inventory

There is no spoonIf you’ve been following along on this thread, you’ve already considered your Concrete Inventory and your Time Inventory.  The first reviewed the things you have, the second reviewed the things you do.  The third, your Belief Inventory, catalogs and reviews the things you believe in – things about yourself and others.

You have no doubt heard that thoughts control actions and actions direct reality.  But what controls thoughts?  Belief.  Every thought and every feeling begins with a deep-seated belief about something.  I covered this a bit in the “Power of Belief” posting.  People say to change your reality you should change your thoughts.  That’s not deep enough.  The change has to start with your belief.
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Time Inventory

ClockHow you spend your time is critical to your succeeding in living your dream.  I would bet though, that most of us don’t think about it and rather go from task to task with little thought.  In my “Starting Out” post, I discussed three types of inventories that one should consider taking before starting out on a new endeavor.  I think they are also valuable as a checkpoint along the way.  The three inventories were the “Concrete”, the “Time”, and the “Belief”.  Let’s talk about time.

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Concrete Inventory

Closet-ClutterThe first inventory on our list is the concrete inventory. This inventory captures all the physical things you have – like your house, your car, your clothing, and yes, even those concrete shoes. Because that’s what a lot of this stuff really is. It’s clutter that doesn’t help you towards your goals and instead weighs you down. It’s possible that your blessed with a fantastic sense for when to throw things out, and if so, I applaud you. But I’m guessing that most folks are not so fortunate and are holding on to lots of concrete things.

Of all the inventories, this one may be the simplest to create but also possibly the hardest to act on. Because – you guessed it – acting on the concrete inventory requires you to get rid of stuff. Out with the old, in with the new, as they say. It does take time to put the inventory together though. After all, if you’re going to do this you’re going to go through pretty much everything you own. So I suggest that you start small, and follow these steps.
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Starting Out

Getting_StartedStarting out and Emerging can be difficult.  Understanding your vision and committing to it are great first steps, but starting out from what might appear to be nothing is not easy.  So, really, how do you get moving?  I think an excellent first step, and one that can be successfully used at any step during your Emergence is taking an inventory.

Most people think of an inventory in terms of the material things they have, and that’s partially what I’m talking about.  I’m also talking about taking an inventory of the things that you have inside you and on the things that you do.  An inventory really helps when done intentionally and with thought.

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Make a Choice

crossroadGiven the changes that occur all around us, we must consciously make a choice as to what direction we want to move in. Failure to make a choice will not slow down the pace of change in our lives, but will tip the balance away from Consistent and towards Chaotic. Having made that choice will also serve well when the inevitable bit of chaotic change manifests.

As the name of this venture implies, I am on a journey that starts with Emergence. A choice is what started me in this journey. I found myself at a crossroad; I’m not sure I’ve chosen the path less travelled, but certainly I’m on the path more scary.
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ConsistencyAs you might have picked up in my New Years Eve post, I believe that change is a very good thing. In fact, when you get right down to it change is the only thing. All living things, down to the microscopic level, are in a constant state of change. Until they are not.  I’ve been spending a lot of time over the past two or three weeks thinking about change. I believe there are degrees along the change continuum. There is chaos. Then consistency. And finally stagnation.

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