He had spent a career serving others. He was passionate about his work and his role in caring for and developing those on his team. His career spanned more than 49 years before he finally agreed to retire. Retire that is from his full-time job, but at 74 years old, he still went out and took a part-time job because he believed that he wasn’t done serving others in his community. And lastly, in addition to his part-time job, he is a volunteer for the community center in his neighborhood, and very active in his local church.
I only know these details because I received an email from his wife, who shared that they both look forward to my column each week, and she thought I might be interested in her husband’s story. For me it was a no-brainer, as I love to hear about a fantastic work ethic, people who love to build up others, and stories about people who live to serve others. She certainly got my attention.
When I reached out and asked if I could interview them both, they immediately agreed. Wow, was I in for a great discussion from a very spry and young 75-year-old couple. As I listened to their story, I was truly amazed to their commitment to serve. His job didn’t create wealth, but it did give them security and provided a beautiful life for them in Colorado where they raised their children. When I asked how they balanced work, family, church, and volunteering, Tom answered the question with one word, “balance.”
As I asked him to share more about that he told me that throughout his life, particularly toward the end of his career and part-time work, that he heard all this “noise” about work-life balance. And as people shared self-help books and columns about how to find work-life balance, it amused him. He said it amused him because the answer was in the question. It’s balance. His belief being that if we balance all our responsibilities to our family, our friends, our church and our community, we will find all the balance we need, and in turn create a beautiful life for our family and those we serve.
This couple became instant heroes of mine, a great big hug and shout-out to you both.
I think that Tom was on to something. Many of us fall into the trap of the rush and crush of life, becoming so preoccupied by what we think we want, yet we miss everything else in life that balances us out. We spread ourselves so thin running from thing to thing, event to event, trying to fill our calendars and impress people, that we often miss what gives us the greatest pleasure. If we are in search of work-life balance, or just a sense of balance in our life, what is keeping us from finding it? Identifying those things that send us reeling out of balance, and having the courage to say “No,” more often so that we can keep ourselves in balance may be one of the best things that we can ever do for ourselves.
Here’s an idea for you to explore. Balance doesn’t come from placing more things, people, and events on both sides of the scale. Balance comes when we put the right things on each side of the scale.
Take a lesson from my new friend Tom and his wife who focus on family, friends, church and the community and you will have all the balance that you will ever need. Are you or your company out of balance? Do you need to focus more on what is on each side of the scale instead of how much you are trying to squeeze onto the scale? I would love to hear your story of balance at email@example.com, and when we can find our balance again, it really will be a better than good life.
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.