Source | MR Chandramowly
BALANCE or burn out. There is no third choice. I am a lay counsellor. The other day, while going for a long leisurely walk, I got into a reflective mood, a kind of mood that you get into without any prior design. It just happens.
I started reflecting over the cases my colleagues and I deal with. One thing hit me like lightening. At the end of the day, most professionals who came to see us could be classified as cases of burnouts. Burnout due to unbridled ambition, burnout due to a very strong need to dominate work relationships, burnout due to excessive stress and anxiety, burnout due to unhealthy competition with peers. She is fairer, he is smarter, they are richer, not realising any comparison including with oneself, what one is with what one should be, is a sure source of tension.
Another revelation. That there was, in most cases, a brown out before the burnout (depression is another name for it), a kind of warning signal, which was ignored, and the third common factor appeared to be the lack of balance in life.
For example, not many of such managers mentioned regular exercise in their schedule. There was either no time or inclination for anything like a brisk walk or a work out, suggesting a total lack of balance. Only a few mentioned having any worthwhile hobby. It is the work, boss, the wife or the children who are the focus. It is painful when the attention is pointed to them.
Psychologist Samuel Klarreich, in his book The Stress Solution and Personal Effectiveness says, “Burnout is the depletion of your resources, both physical and emotional, caused by compulsive desire to achieve, due to exaggerated expectations which you feel must be fulfilled and which are typically, but are always, job related.
Once these are not fulfilled, there is an overwhelming tendency towards cynicism, pessimism and negativity.”
Stephen Covey in his famous book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People has this to say. “There is no real excellence in this world, which can be separated from right living. That is to say, that excellence in life is not divisible. Excellence cannot be segmented or compartmentalised. Excellence in work by workaholic will come at the cost of something else, poor health, indifferent relationship.”
What then is balanced living? Ask any wise person and he will tell that there are four elements of balanced living, spiritual, mental, physical and social. There are different ways to help visualise the concept of balance. Ben Kubbasek has described balance succinctly and I quote, “For me the old scale of justice helps. The base being your spiritual dimension, the pivot being our mental capacity, one arm being our physical condition and the other arm being our social life.”
Stephen Covey calls these four dimensions of renewal. At the macro level physical dimension would include exercise, nutrition and stress management. Social or emotional would mean service, empathy, and intrinsic security. In spiritual dimension, Covey includes value clarification, commitment, study and meditation and the mental will spread across reading, visualising, planning, and writing.
Going into details and to understand fully what these four dimensions entail. The questions in physical dimension that need to be addressed are like, are we eating the right kind of foods. Are we getting sufficient rest and relaxation, and exercising on a regular basis. Most executives fail in this test. The oft-repeated reason for not exercising is the lack of time. Physical fitness experts tell us that four hours a week is all that we require to keep fit and that represents 2.3 per cent of the total time in a week with an assured return on the time invested.
Social balance normally comes when life is lived in a win-win relationship within the family, friends, customers, suppliers and all other stakeholders of our lives. Win-lose or lose-wins are only temporary expedients, which ask for a much greater price in the future. Social dimension would mean authenticity in our relationship with others.
Spiritual dimension is the core of it all, your commitment, and your centre, your very being. This applies to all of us regardless to our station in life, poor or rich, executives or pensioners, housewives or working mothers. I can’t describe this attribute better than through two quotes. “The greatest battles of life are fought out daily in the silent chambers of the soul,” says religious leader McKay. Martin Luther King put it only slightly differently when he said, “I have so much to do today, I will need to spend another hour on my knees.”
On a personal level, I find reading and writing the most stimulating mental activities. I have known some people whose mental growth comes through in playing music, painting, theatre and other mind absorbing and yet mind relaxing pastime. I suppose each one of us has to find our own mental moorings. One thing is clear that balance can be achieved only when we deal with all four dimensions in a state of equilibrium.
To neglect one will affect the other and consequently there would be a loss of balance. There is no third choice except balance or burnout and between these two, we professional alone decide whether it will be one or the other. Let us make the right choice.
M. R. Chandramowly is a Trainer and HR Solutions Facilitator. A Graduate in Science and a Post Graduate in Literature/Anthropology he has received course graduation from Covey Leadership, Competency Management Accreditation from SMR Inc, VOICES Certification from Lominger Inc, ‘Human Values’ from IIM Calcutta and ‘Silva Mind control’ from Australian Business Programs. Mowly, with 25 years of HR professional experience worked with organizations like MICO Bosch, PSI-Bull. and took to HR training and consulting after his last assignment as Corporate VP – HR for Praxair Group in India. An active contributor in the area of Leadership Competencies and HR Education. Mowly has trained executives of several organizations and published articles, presented theme papers in national and international HR conferences.
A visiting faculty teaching Business Ethics for Post Graduate HR, Mowly served as secretary of National HRD Network and facilitated HR workshops for National Institute of Personnel Management and Bangalore HR Summit. He is working on synthesizing eastern wisdom with western leadership competencies developing a learning module ‘Value Based Competencies’. The author is an HR Expert and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org