There's a common perception that life balance can only be accomplished by doing less. While learning to fly the helicopter I discovered that the cause of imbalance is more about what you are not doing than what you are doing. In this article I share how achieving balance for life is like learning to fly the helicopter. These principles became apparent as I attempted to take the controls of a helicopter for the very first time.
“You’ve got the controls.” It’s the voice of my flight instructor in my headset. Learning to fly a helicopter is not impossible -- it just seemed that way to me.
It was Day-One of flight training for my Private Helicopter License. I was in Chandler, Arizona at Rotorway International for my training. My instructor was Stretch. Stretch was in his 60's and had over 6,000 hours logged flying Rotorway helicopters. He was also a little short on patience but long on wisdom.
As we lifted off, my instructor put us into a perfect, motionless hover (using all your skill to go exactly nowhere), I realized how important balance is when it comes to keeping a helicopter right-side up.
For an ecstatic couple of seconds, I think I’m in control. After all, I’m already one hour into my first lesson. How difficult can it possibly be to keep this little egg-beater upright?
Then the hover begins to decay and the machines starts to saucer. We drift from side to side, pitching and rolling, lurching forward, sliding back, rising and falling like a hat in the wind.
Every correction I made only amplified my previous mistake. After a couple of seconds, I hear Stretch's calm voice in the head-set -- “I’ve got it.”
Almost before he finishes speaking, we become level and motionless and poised for whatever he wants to do next.
"What am I doing wrong?' I asked.“It’s the sense of balance you’re missing,” he says “you need to imagine you are balancing yourself on top of a beach ball.”
His next words were "Ben, you are chasing balance. That never works. You must make the correct adjustments and let balance come to you. It's that simple!"
You are waiting too long before making your corrections. You've got to correct as soon as you feel the slightest imbalance. The sooner you correct, the less you need to correct.
What an eye-opener! Those few words of wisdom opened up a whole new perception of what life balance is all about.
Here are the 7 lessons about life balance I learned from Stretch's words of wisdom:
- You don't need balance if you're not going anywhere in life. The bigger your dreams, the more important balance is going to be.
- You only discover imbalance as you pick up speed. As long as move slow enough, balance is not a big deal.
- The faster you move the better balanced you need to be.
- The sooner you realize that you are out of balance, the smaller your corrections need to be.
- It's called a sense of balance for a reason. You can feel imbalance coming on long before it's visible.
- Doing less doesn't bring balance, it brings inactivity. Instead of burnout, you rust out.
- Great mission requires regular maintenance. Mission without maintenance leads to burnout. You must land and rest in order to do maintenance.
I now have a new appreciation for the word balance. To maintain balance in life is much like maintaining balance in a helicopter, it requires small adjustments as you begin to feel the shifts in balance, long before you are able to see them.
When I was suffering through my burnout experience the most common advice I received was that I was doing too many things. The truth was 'there was too many things I wasn't doing.'
I was advised that was I was severely over-committed. The truth was: 'I was totally uncommitted to some very important aspects of my life.'
What inputs should be adding to life in order to achieve balance?
Are you exercising enough?
Are you spending enough time your loved ones?
Should you be sleeping more?
Do you need to spend more time alone meditating and praying?
Is there something more you need to doing for your family, friends, fitness, finances, or your faith?