A system is in equilibrium when the forces constituting it are arranged in such a way as to compensate each other, like the two weights pulling at the arms of a pair of scales.
- Rudolph Arnheim

As coaches, we know the importance of balance. Think about the life of one of your clients as a set of scales. The arms of the scales need to be in perfect balance, to keep the arms from tilting or dragging on the ground.  What is competing for balance in this scenario?

Once there was a business man with great dreams and career aspirations. His boss approached him and gave him a choice. He could continue in his present job and be up for promotion in one to two years; or he could have the promotion today. What was the trade off? If he wanted the promotion today, he would have to move across country leaving his aging parents behind, and relocate his children to new schools. He had a weighty decision. Given his values and the choices he was given, how could he maintain balance?

The ‘things’ a client puts on the opposite sides of the scale are weighty. Some of the things are lightweight, others are heavy. Regardless, they are things the client is willing to carry. Ideally, the ‘things’ on the left side of the scale are a client’s priorities and values, i.e. ‘family,’ ‘health,’ ‘financial security.’ On the other side, are the ‘means,’ the things we do to enjoy and live out our values and priorities i.e. ‘work,’ ‘exercise,’ ‘budgeting.’ Sometimes, the weight given to the left side of the scales (values and priorities) isn’t as much as we think, because the things on the right side of the scale, (the means) for enjoying and realizing our goals and priorities, outweigh the goals and priorities on the left side.  

How about this scenario? There was a woman involved in a dream relationship. The man doted on her and treated her like a queen…most of the time. She truly believed He was the man she was to be with forever.  Sometimes, however, for no apparent reason, the man became angry. When this occurred, he yelled and was verbally abusive. After a time of venting, he would offer up an apologetic “sorry.” After his apologies, things would be great again for awhile. She desperately wanted a loving relationship, but every time she forgave him, she felt as though she were taking her happiness off the scale. Were the good times so good, that they were worth the bad times? Was this a fair trade off, or were her scales out of balance?

[Coaching Questions]

  • What are your priorities?
  • What are you balancing?
  • Are your scales out of balance?
  • If you could take items off of your scale, and trade them for other things…what items would you take off the scale? What items would you replace them with?
  • What are you trading?
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