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May 18, 1995

The Imbalance of People: We’re Hardwired to Yearn for Wholeness

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What is a hero leader? Don’t worry, I don’t expect you to run out and buy a bat-suit or start wearing a Lone Ranger mask—although in the right context that could be fun. I’m also not trying to set a “superhero bar” for all of us to beat our collective leadership heads against.
A hero leader is someone who, like Batman, understands the need to possess more than one tool to get the job done. I just walked you through some paradoxical qualities that, if you take the time to hone them, will help you become a more effective leader. The difficulty lies in not becoming frustrated if they don’t all come naturally to you.
By nature we are imbalanced people. After all, life itself is one big project of leveraging tension in order to achieve balance. And what is balance? Balancing is the act of utilizing counteractive weights. Some say we don’t ever really balance anything. Rather, we learn how to live in the tension of imbalance. On the tightrope that is balance, we naturally want to lean to one side, but we must train ourselves to lean a little bit to the other side. Otherwise, we will fall.
If we strip away all the leadership jargon and mumbo-jumbo, we see that these qualities we’ve just studied could apply to everyday life, and they are for anyone. In life, if I just focus on being a good father, my work will suffer. If I just focus on community work, because I have a natural proclivity toward it, my family will suffer. Each day I have the opportunity to wear several different hats: father, husband, professional, community leader, church parishioner, and so on. In order to keep it all together—to stay sane—I need to learn how to balance each facet of life. I must be the best professional I can be; but when I return home, I need to be fully present and fully dad. And who doesn’t want to be super-dad? I know I do.
We learned from Malcolm Gladwell that an outlier is a person who spends 10,000 hours honing a specific craft. We learned from Marcus Buckingham that each person has core competencies and those should be our focus; we shouldn’t bother with things we’re not good at.
But when we begin focusing all of our energy on what we’re the best at we are, in essence, stepping off the tight rope. How can we walk the tightrope of life if we only know how to lean left or right?

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