3 Ways Leaders Can Achieve Much More than Mere “Balance”

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Updated from June 2, 2014 post

I hate to break it to you.

But if you’re a leader looking for the elusive work-life balance, brace yourself.

It doesn’t exist.

At least, not for effective leaders.

There are two basic problems with the quest for balance.

First of all, no one can really define it. Does it mean you spend equal amounts of time at work, at home, at leisure, at study, and so on?

That’s ludicrous.

Secondly, the pursuit of work-life balance assumes you can, and should, segment your life. It suggests your life has a segment called “Work”, another called “Family”, another called “Spiritual” another called “Recreational”, and so on.

Life just doesn’t work like that.

At least, not for effective leaders.


Effective leaders set their sights much higher than mere balance. They strive instead for harmony or alignment in every area of their life.

It’s the idea that the various areas of your life flow together, weaving in and out of your world, resulting in fulfillment in every area of your life.

But to achieve this, leaders must establish 3 key foundations.

1.  A crystal-clear sense of personal purpose

Your life must have a clearly defined goal that brings every area of your life into alignment. In my own life, I seek to honor God in all that I do. That’s the plumb line that runs through my home, my work, my exercise, even my hobbies.

2.  An unshakable set of personal values

You can’t have one set of values in your marriage and family, and another set you use for leading your organization.

3.  An ironclad structure of personal priorities

My wife comes first. My children are second. My church is third. My work is fourth. And so on.

(Don’t ask “Where’s God?” in this. In my own life, God is in all, and through all.)

Having a clearly defined set of personal values helps you to know where, at any given time, you should be devoting your energies.

None of this is to suggest you’ll never feel the pull to spend less time at the office, nor does it mean that every life decision will automatically be easy.

But it does mean that you can actually achieve a deep sense of fulfillment in every area of your life.

And for leaders, that’s a lot better than mere balance.

How do you juggle the demands of leadership in your busy life?


the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.

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