These past few weeks have been extremely stressful for me, but they would have been much worse if I wasn’t surrounded by loving, trustworthy, and well-balanced humans. This article is one part diagnosis, two parts appreciation, and a half part warning. Here’s the bumper sticker conclusion:
Balance attracts balance.
Last month I got sick and in an article posed the idea that illness and injury can provide a unique and important perspective into our priorities. The reality of that concept would soon loom large for me because things quickly got much worse. Just after that article posted, my dog Zeus fell seriously ill. And then the following week, on Christmas Eve, my mother’s heart failed. My brother rushed her to the hospital where her condition was immediately stabilized with a pacemaker, only to reveal she would also need a new valve if she wanted to live more than a few more months. Days later Zeus’s heart stopped for good, and days after that an incredibly competent surgery team stopped my mother’s heart for a few hours while they replaced her worn out valve with a fresh one. The next day Mom was awake, and the next day sitting up, the next day standing up, and seven days after surgery, she was released to a rehabilitation facility, barely able to walk, but stable with a 5-year warranty on her new heart parts.
That’s a pretty shitty sequence of events. I’m feeling more qualified to speak from experience about the effects of dramatic, unpredictable change. The thing is, while my emotional life has taken a bunch of hits, and my normally ambitious plans look like skeletons, I’m actually feeling relatively balanced.
Balance is measured by what stands after the wrecking ball connects.
It’s obvious why I’m still on my feet. I have an incredibly trustworthy network of loving family, friends, and colleagues: Brothers who jump in with every level of support for my mother and each other, Friends who consistently check in to offer help, a Wife who takes over household tasks to free my time, a Daughter who is independent and sympathetic, and Work Colleagues with integrity and compassion who know how to prioritize their needs so I can work efficiently as I also care for my mother.
If balance is responsiveness, then these people are some of the most balanced people I know. How did I get so fortunate? I do feel like I’ve set some foundation in the structure of my relationships.
Spencer Critchley†, a friend and former colleague, once made an observation about business development that has always served me, and I offer it to you now.
Seek people with integrity, and they will lead to other people with integrity.
I want to add another idea regarding trust that comes from Steven R.M. Covey via my dear friend Matthew Michels.*
Developing trust requires strength of competence or strength of character, and preferably both.
Trustworthiness, integrity, competence, strength of character are all required to love well, and oh, how well have I been loved through these episodes! For that I am endlessly grateful.
I’ll state the obvious. To attract people of integrity requires acting from your own integrity. To build trust you must build your own strength of competence and character. They are the cornerstones of a balanced life. Beware relationships of convenience.
While I fail frequently, I’ve done my best to act from these principles. And believe me, there is nothing more rewarding than the discovery that people around you will rise up to hefty challenges when called.
† Spencer Critchley is a Political Advisor, Music Composer, and Generally Balanced Person. He’s Managing Partner for Boots Road Consulting Group blogs at the Huffington Post and elsewhere.
*Matthew Michels is an Entrepreneur, Engineer, Thought Leader, and Steadfast Compadre. He also writes a blog called Brink of Chaos, which is riddled with intriguing thought experiments and bits of wisdom.