Aspects in Balance

Every quality, like most things in life, has a good aspect and if extended into extremes, a negative one. Even something like being a nurturing person which is normally considered to be a desirable quality, can be negative if done to excess leaving the nurturer over-extended. It is always important to consider the balance point for everything in life, even our personal qualities. Today, I’d like to address some examples of qualities and the full spectrum of how they can be represented as in balance or out of balance.

As a great man once said, let’s look at the man in the mirror first, so I’ll start with myself.  I was born an Aires, with natural qualities of leadership and organization. During my working career, I used my natural tendency to lead and organize to great success for my professional duties; however, when I transferred those same skills to personal relationships it didn’t go so well. As I was to learn, people don’t like to be managed, overly organized and led outside of the work place. Apparently, it feels too much like “mothering” from someone who is not their “mother”. Certainly, it didn’t go well in my dating life for obviously reasons. My awakening moment was during a dance lesson when my instructor told me, “Joanne, you have to let the guy lead!” I was to learn to not only let go to allow someone else lead me, but to do so with complete trust with my eyes closed. I suppose my love of dancing was a way of balancing this natural quality of leadership for me. I also know now that one is left brain while the other is right brain; again, one balancing out the other.

The above example can be applied to many other qualities. How many women, and perhaps some men, over nurture? At home with children, this is a good quality, certainly when the kids are young. That said, as they grow us, even children want more autonomy. If one doesn’t learn to allow space for mistakes so that the kids learn to fend for themselves, then they will be in trouble when they get into the real world on their own. In the worst case scenario, we see grown men and women, totally dependent on a parent (whether mother or father) because they never separated out; they never developed their own identity because of over-nurturing by the parent. It’s very important for kids to have a chance to make mistakes and not be scolded (too much) so that they don’t develop fear of being wrong; otherwise, when they get into the workplace they turn into adults who have to be perfect. Since there is no such thing as perfection, the pursuit of same causes extreme stress and uncertainty. Thus overly nurturing mothers, who are well-intentioned, can raise kids who become neurotic adults. Again, every quality has a full spectrum from the positive to the negative.

Another example is a guy friend who is a good analyst. He was born with an ability to pay attention and hyper focus (perhaps a bit ADHD) on the details of life. In his work life, he’s learned to apply this ability as a detail-oriented person to an analyst position, one for which he is accurately suited. In addition, he has moved on to a managerial job wherein the details are also extremely important. However, when it comes to managing people, he tries to use this same skill of being in the details and it doesn’t always go so well. He tends to reflect back to people what he believes they want him to say rather than intuitively (right brain) ascertains what is needed to mentor them into productivity. When I’ve heard him discuss the issues he has with certain individuals at his workplace, I can only imagine that these are the people that don’t want to be managed; or perhaps even manipulated as it might feel. Perhaps they would prefer for him to just ask how he can be of service to them or inquiry as to the source of their issue. In other words, he should treat his subordinates as adults rather than as children to be managed. I have tried to explain this to him but he gets locked up in his left brain and has difficultly moving into the right brain to grasp the concept. Although he is perfect for this position from the standpoint of attention to details to manage his day, the routine it requires and the constant checking to make sure that everyone has completed their tasks, I feel that he is lacking in real people skills. If it were me in there, I would empower my people to feel a part of the organization, give them a sense of pride in their work and not micro-manage them. It’s been proven that when one treats people like children (micro-managing ) them, that’s how they behave (not performing unless told to do so).

Unfortunately, this same guy tries to handle his personal life in the same way – with an extreme hyper focus to the details and an unwavering plan that doesn’t adjust for changes as they are required. I watched it happen last week and was horrified at how each challenge messed him up. Things that I accept as normal bumps in the road were major hurdles for him – like traffic, rain and a tire getting a nail. My approach was to deal with the traffic, make adjustments in the plan for the day based on the rain and stop to get the tired plugged so as not to ruin the entire day. But that’s not what happened. As each challenged appeared, he repeated it over and over – this horrible traffic; OMG it’s raining. Now there are two things so he repeated the two things until there were three things and he repeated them. Until he had himself convinced that the day was ruined so we had to return home.

 I’m so used to putting out fires and keep going that none of it would have stopped me. It’s all a matter of perspective. Life is life and we have to stay in balance in order to be resilient. Otherwise, everything and anything will throw us off and life will become horrible. Why do that to yourself?  Comments are always welcome.

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