Sharpening the Saw: Practicing Balance

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This blog series addresses why taking care of yourself is paramount to taking care of your business.

Stephen Covey’s idea of “sharpening the saw” encompasses four dimensions of self-renewal: physical, mental, spiritual and social/emotional. We’ve already discussed the physical and mental dimensions; now let’s look at the remaining two.

The spiritual dimension can be described as a private commitment to one’s value system, whatever form that may take. Some might follow a religion; others may seek inspiration in nature. For many, a written personal vision or mission statement helps clarify what’s most important and, when read daily, brings us back to our centers.

According to Covey, the social/emotional dimension focuses on the principles of “interpersonal leadership, empathic communication and creative cooperation” in all relationships. In short, it’s about consistently establishing win-win relationships with others, seeking first to understand and then to be understood.

Whew! Isn’t it ironic that taking action to enhance your physical, mental, spiritual and social/emotional well-being can feel overwhelming? What if we just kept our noses to the grindstone and forgot about the need to sharpen the saw? Many professionals do just that. Yet, a life that’s only about work is a lopsided one. And sooner or later, as Covey points out, a lopsided life catches up with you.

Recently, I was working with about 40 advisers in a coaching program. When asked to describe their personal vision, one of the most frequently used words was balance. While many advisers certainly keep their noses to the business grindstone, most don’t want to live a lopsided life.

How do you run a solid, growth-oriented business while pursuing the dimensions that Covey talks about? Perhaps it’s wise to think about it like this: We don’t achieve balance so much as we practice balance. The needle on the scale shifts over time and with different life phases, and we are always figuring out what level of balance is right for us now.

Practicing balance doesn’t have to be complicated. Indeed, it can be broken down into three very basic components:

  1. Be aware of the need for balance and cultivate a desire to sharpen the saw.
  2. Work toward making the changes you envision.
  3. Learn from each experience to discover what works best for you.

If we could simply do these things over and over, I suspect that sharpening the saw would become a habit, and we’d be better off for it.

Joni YoungwirthJoni Youngwirth
Managing Principal of Practice Management
Commonwealth Financial Network
Waltham, Mass.

One thought on “Sharpening the Saw: Practicing Balance

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