Groovin’ Balance

When I am teaching workshops and classes on leadership and short- and long-term planning I always emphasize the importance of simultaneously being goal focused and process or relationship focused. Usually this contrasting orientation is in reference to balancing a team that works to everyone’s strengths. I was recently reminded in a very solitary environment that it is important to be internally balanced in the same way.

A few weeks ago I started visiting a rolfer for follow-up treatment after the car accident. It is truly therapeutic and has helped tremendously. During my last visit we were working to find neutral posture. “I think I’m getting it right, but it still seems like a lot of work,” I remarked. “Another week or two of really focusing and working at it and it won’t seem like work any more.” There was some truth to my comments, but the logic was fundamentally flawed. A neutral position is a natural position that is well balanced. If I am concentrating and working hard at achieving the correct position it is not natural, and there is little chance of being balanced.

I am well aware that I can easily become far too task and goal focused. Usually my sense of balance comes from knowing that I need my relationships and team, and a participatory process to be successful in goal achievement. I have been known to put this thinking aside and simply decide that I’ll ignore the relationships and mend them later so that I can get exactly what I need to focus on getting to the end goal quickly. This approach might be more efficient in some circumstances, but it is not very nice, and it lacks all sense of balance. Without balance the end result might not be the quality that it could be.

My rolfer helped me see how this clear, directional, goal-oriented focus has manifested physically in my body. I have become very good at moving exactly one body part at a time, in isolation from the everything else. In other words, when I stretch and rotate my shoulders in the morning, I exactly stretch one shoulder at a time in exactly one way. When I do this it inherently introduces additional tension to support the rest of my body in holding it still. The reality is my shoulder is attached to my body, with my spine up the middle that supports and balances everything. My shoulder cannot actually do a whole lot that is productive on its own. It is true that sometimes I need to be able to rotate my shoulder exactly on its own, but mostly it needs to work with my whole body. I cannot reach for anything without standing up on my feet and toes, stretching out, and extending out all the way to my fingertips. Moreover, I cannot put an intensive, concentrated effort into my whole body just to get my shoulder to do something. I need to be able to relax and let my body work on its own terms, much like fostering the relationships in a team.

One of the principles of good leadership is to recognize each individual team member as a whole person, and to help a team of whole people work together. The very premise assumes that individual team members are complex and there must be a sense of internal balance even if it is out of balance for a particular person. Two people who are internally out-of-balance do not automatically balance each other out on a team. More likely this scenario will create a source of conflict. While this principle acknowledges that other people are whole, complex people that need balance, it is outwardly focused. It is equally important to look internally, and think about one’s own tendencies, priorities, values and needs in the context of a whole, complex person who requires balance.

Since my last rolfing appointment I have put an effort into, well, not putting an effort into things. I do not mean slacking off, but rather letting go and doing what feels right instead of figuring out what is right and concentrating on achieving a fixed end result. It is the difference between inductive and deductive reasoning. We need to be able to do both. It has only been a few days, so I am mostly trying to notice the circumstances when it is natural to let go and I actually do, and when I should let go, but I do not. In the meantime, with few constraints my morning warmup exercises are looking funkier and groovier than they ever have.

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