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VOL. 127 | NO. 49 | Monday, March 12, 2012

Chris Crouch

Learning Balance From Kids

By Chris Crouch

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Have you ever seen little kids spin around and around until they get so dizzy they become totally out of balance and fall down? They try to get up a few times and fall down again and again.

When they regain their equilibrium and their ability to stand up, what do they do? They start spinning around and around until they fall down again! Kids laugh and have a great time as they repeatedly spin around, lose their balance and fall. It’s a fun game.

It’s quite different with adults. With the exception of Grateful Dead fans and ice skaters, you don’t see many “spinning adults” who seem to be having fun. Fun is a great indication that you are going in the right direction in life, and kids seem to be experts on what is fun.

That’s why I pay close attention to kids when I’m trying to learn about a concept that will improve my life. So what do kids know about balance that we adults may have forgotten?

One of the most common recommendations offered in self-help and personal-growth books is to always “live a balanced life.” In general, I think this is good advice; however, there is another side to every story, and balance is no exception.

First of all, in this complex and chaotic world, especially in the business world, it is difficult and impractical to always maintain balance. Things happen that disrupt our plans. As it turns out, periods in which we are out of balance may not only be good for us personally, they may be a necessary part of personal and professional growth.

Kids instinctively understand that learning, innovation, creativity and other activities that result in growth usually occur “at the edge of things,” where you often risk temporarily losing your balance.

High-performance airplane drivers refer to this position as “the envelope.” To improve their skills, they occasionally “push the envelope,” going slightly beyond the edge of their current capabilities to a somewhat extreme position. They know it’s not a good idea to stay out on the edge too long or go too far beyond their current edge, but they learn from flirting with the edge.

People who achieve great things in life are those willing to go to extremes to learn new things and stretch their current abilities. As they explore new possibilities and change the way they do things, they often discover that with the passage of time, what once seemed like an extreme position eventually becomes their new normal.

Growing a successful business involves taking some risks. And risk-taking often temporarily throws our comfort-zone world out of balance. Many years ago, the people at Apple computer, known for their passion for innovation, introduced a concept called “better sameness” in some of their advertising and promotional materials.

Their belief is that if you never go to the edge of your current capabilities, all you can hope for in life is better sameness. And who wants that?

Chris Crouch is CEO of DME Training and Consulting and author of several books on improving productivity. Contact him through www.dmetraining.com.

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