We live in a world of constant change and at accelerated speeds. As a result, a lot of people today struggle with balance. There are many things that dem and our commitment such that it can be difficult to achieve balance.

Balance can best be described as the even distribution of weight that makes something remain steady. A measuring line in building works which is used to check alignment and bring things in order and weighing scales to check weight and importance, immediately comes to mind.

In line with the above, one can argue that we have to determine weight and importance and be properly aligned (order) i.e. determine importance, order of priority to achieve balance.

I think three key things are of great importance to achieve this i.e.:

  • One has to get his/her purpose right. Purpose answers the questions; who am I? What is my life all about? Why am I here?
  • Secondly, get priorities right – what is most important to me? There are variations. What is important to one person may not be important to another person.
  • Get pursuits right – what do I want to accomplish in life?

A lot has been said and written already about purpose. However, deeper thinking into this, one instantly sees three aspects i.e.

  • Intended purpose – What the Source of life had in mind when it made me to be who I am. For example, to a lot of people, this is God.
  • Invented purpose – What I have made up myself. For example, a hammer’s intended purpose is to help in construction works. This is the intended purpose, what the manufacture had in mind but at the same time, one may use the same hammer to knock people’s heads that to me is invented purpose.
  • Inverted purpose is basically intended purpose upside down. This has to do with values.

It is wisdom therefore for a person to ask himself/herself the question, the things life has given to me, am I using them for intended, invented or inverted purpose?

Steven Covey said that people mostly spend their time in four quadrants i.e. things that are urgent and important like crises, pressing problems and deadline driven projects. Things that are not urgent but important like preparation, planning and prevention and values clarification. Things that are not important but urgent like interruptions, some phone calls, some meetings and many popular activities and finally things that are not important or urgent like trivia, busy work and time wasters. Close analysis has shown that most people spend their time on things that are not important but urgent and not important or urgent and the next category spends their time on things that are urgent and important. However, for one to be a high achiever and performer, he or she has to spend their time on things that are not urgent but important. It might be worthwhile to stop and ask yourself, where are you really spending your time? Whatever you give less time in life is of less importance. Knowing something in theory does not mean you know it in practice. As the saying goes when you get easy on life, life gets harder on you, while when you get harder on life, life gets easy on you. It’s all about choice. I once heard of a story of a man who from the day he was born, knew what his purpose was. However, almost every battle he fought in life was to settle personal quarrels till danger became no longer dangerous.  In the process of time, he eventually ended up, wasting his life. One may ask, what was the problem with this man? The answer is simple, his weighing system was faulty. It is important in life to get one’s weighing system right.

That said, in life you will deal with what is pursuing you, things behind and what you are pursuing, things ahead. Both of these things bring pressure.

For some people what is pursuing them is fear. One time someone said to me that we are born with only two fears i.e. the fear of loud noises and the fear of falling. Every other fear is learnt. He defined fear as False Evidence Appearing Real. Depending on experiences one has gone through in life, no matter the position of leadership they may find themselves in, trying not to put themselves in similar experiences of the past especially if negative, that becomes their drive. Fear can drive you in excess mode. Similarly, poverty, underachievement, faults, personal weaknesses can become a drive and can misdirect us but pretty soon you realize that you are not the smartest, most brilliant, h andsome or beautiful. For some people, the realization that they are not the best can become a push or drive in life including whom they marry to compensate the past. A man who has no future will always look to his past or be a slave to his immediate.

What one is pursuing, things ahead like hopes, dreams, aspirations, happiness, finding peace, perfection and heritage can also become a drive. Most importantly, how one wants to be remembered. Peak performers start with a vision – a vision that matters and with a commitment to their purpose. The greatest reason that allows peak performers the opportunity to create their vision is that they know something about where they want to go, how they are going to get there and when they expect to arrive. Vision helps a person to maintain focus in the middle of obstacles which will surely come your way but also among many seemingly nice and competing priorities. A quote from Steve Jobs may be of great help here. He says, “People think that focus means saying yes to the thing you have to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that are there. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things”.

Let me finish with another story. Two nations go to war, there are two messengers to take a message to the king. One has a message. He is patient and runs a more determined pace. The other messenger has no message, but he is skilful and runs very fast and overtakes the one with a message. After getting to the king, he is told to st and aside. Sometimes, I have seen that this syndrome is common in our generation, running without a message just because one has speed to show off only at the end to get to be set aside. Hard work is not evidence of effectiveness. Being busy does not mean I have a purpose.

Here are some final questions to ask yourself. All this running I am doing – where am I going? Why do I want to make money? Run the race set for you. You have been created for a purpose. Don’t put yourself under pressure. Achieve balance.

MacDuff Phiri