One of Jesus’ parables concerns a prosperous farmer who filled his storehouses with grain and built new ones to hold more grain. Then he prepared to settle down for a life of leisure, telling himself, “Man, you have plenty of good things laid by, enough for many years: take life easy, eat, drink, and enjoy yourself.” But God told him: “You fool, this very night you must surrender your life; you have made your money – who will get it now?”
This man obviously was living an unbalanced life. He focused exclusively on his material wealth without thinking about his most important possession: life itself.
In this modern world, where wealthy leisure is often held out as the ultimate goal, many individuals have stood at the pinnacle of success only to find themselves looking down into the grave.
Paul almost became one of them. He was a senior vice president of a major Corporation. He had been engrossed in climbing the corporate ladder, and was on the verge of realizing a lifelong dream: promotion to CEO.
Then he was hit by a series of distressing developments. First he learned that his teenage daughter had a drinking problem, apparently arising from her feeling that her parents were neglecting her. Then his doctor told him he suffered from a heart problem and would need an operation. Then he received a letter from his wife’s lawyer. It was accompanied by separation papers. It caught him totally by surprise, though warning signs had been there for months. He had been so focused on his work that he had turned a totally blind eye toward his family and his health, and never realized it.
He recognized – just in time – that his life was out of balance and that success could not be sustained unless balance was restored. He made some conscious new choices, began putting his family and health first, and in two years had turned his life around.
To accomplish this turnaround, Paul:
- Turned down the CEO position and opted to continue to work as senior vice president.
- Gave up part of his salary to hire an executive assistant to help him with his many administrative duties.
- Committed to build a friendship with his teenage daughter. He accepted her problem, showed her unconditional love, and scheduled regular weekly meetings with her.
- Went to counseling sessions with his wife to iron out their marital issues. He showed her that she mattered the most to him.
- Hired a personal trainer and worked with her three days a week. He also changed to a healthier diet.
Roger and Rebecca Merrill, in their insightful book, Life Matters, use the term “navigational intelligence” to refer to the ability to make the choices that create what we want to have in our lives. Paul intelligently navigated his way back into Life Balance.
He began the balancing act as a reaction to his problems. If he had been proactive from the start, he might have avoided his heart condition, averted his daughter’s drinking problem, and headed off his marital conflict before it became a crisis.
The good news is that no matter where you are in life, you can always make a fresh start. When Paul turned his attention toward his family and health situation, results changed – gradually but effectively.
The holistic and balanced approach to life is the key to sustained success!