I’m back, well almost.

It’s about balance. From the outside, I am often perceived to have mastered it, balance, that is. When inside, like most, I am challenged to my core. I did not pay attention to that which I preach, balance. As you might have already guessed, this is a reflection posting, but one that I thought worthy of sharing. I hope you will agree and find that it gives you reason to reflect and act upon your own balance.

You may have noticed (or not) that I have not posted much as of late. I have been following the sage wisdom of my elders. My mother raised me well enough to practice, “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say it at all.” Of course, I also believe too much “nice” sometimes has the same effect. My father said, “nobody listens once you start shouting.” I have been pretty good at keeping my cool despite it all. But recently I have discovered that the ocean doesn’t mind my occasional outburst (and it feels pretty good). Before you get worried (or not), know that I am indeed alive and doing well.

After seven years in Sweden, my health suffered from seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and I needed a serious change. I mean this in every sense of the word, health (emotional, physical, intellectual…). I had forgotten how to smile, and was in need of a serious belly laugh. Being in my mid-40s (yes, a bit of mid-life stuff too), I knew something drastic had to happen.  It needed to begin with the physical “vessel” so that I could proceed with the rest. So, here I am, moved the family to California (kids here, my husband’s coming eventually).

First order of business, sunshine to increase the dangerously depleted vitamin D levels. Second, get active both inside and out. Third get social, meet new people and reconnect with my existing network. The first month was full of the usual logistics and details of an international move with two kids. Registered the kids for school and activities they would love. I signed up for Pure Barre to literally kick my bottom into shape. I brought music back to my life, both guitar and downloading some great playlists on Spotify.  I bought a used convertible to maximise sunshine and smiles while getting it all done.

All my meetings have been either on a hike or walk (no more lunches or fika – unless earned). I have reconnected with some wonderful friends and contacts and made new ones. The depth of conversation is remarkable when one has room for comfortable contemplation, silence. Walking side by side as you aim to a vista point provides just that. The shared memories that are created ensure a bond that cannot be matched by a hurried lunch and certainly not by meeting in a sterile office.

I am feeling amazingly sane and happy for the first time in years.  I am able to tackle whatever life dishes out.  This already tested by challenges to learn the emergency systems (separate ER visits for kid, dog and car all in one week).  So, yes, now it is time to get back to work.  It will not be full throttle at first, as part of my effort to maintain balance seeking the right amount.  But I am happy to say that yes, I am back.  My doctoral research is making great progress and I have a few projects in the wings.  You will be hearing from me again soon and there is some great stuff brewing.

You might ask what does this have to do with leadership in the new social paradigm or global social strategy.  Everything! Part of leadership and social strategy is authenticity and taking care of yourself so that you can lead, connect and share.

I hope you find this helpful in seeking your own balance.  Moving to California is neither the answer nor an option for most.  My point is to take action to achieve balance when it is completely lost.  Take care of the core so you can take care of the rest.  I expect great things from you all.  Perhaps on our next hike.

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Reflections on Reflection

The greatest gift that returning to school to become a PhD has given me is the obligation and therefore license to reflect.  One classmate described it so beautifully as she fought for her moment in the bathtub. “I’m working” she cried as her husband questioned her actions.  Yes, those moments of reflection are equally and often more precious in terms of time well spent.  Opening up our eyes to the world around us, the people around us and to ourselves.  In slowing down long enough to reflect, I have improved my productivity and results.

I look at my clients that have to-do-lists a mile long, full of important things, schedules packed with meetings, balancing on a thread and missing their treasured moments that pass unnoticed or un-recognized.  I to do this, but am given a moment to pause and think about where I create value and what creates value for those around me before I leap.  I take a moment to reflect, and am thereby giving myself a chance to make better decisions about how to use my time.

Break it down to efficiency: my cost per hour, versus the cost to hire someone to do it (ie. fixing computer issues, bookkeeping, doing laundry, cleaning the house).  Others need work too, they can get it done faster and cheaper when I put these things into equations.  By the way, my weekends are worth much more than my office days as there can be no price put on quality time with my family and friends.

So I reflect and I even dream a bit about innovative and crazy ideas that would make life, mine and the world, better.  What is my role in this and how do I make it happen.  I imagine this is what Trine Grönlund means in her GoSlow Family movement.  Being crazy may not be required, but a little out of ordinary thinking might help.  I guess we could ask Simon Kyaga who looks at whether creativity comes from madness or is socially derived.  But I do think my best ideas come from reflection (often in the bathtub, in the car or in nature).  Perhaps this goes back to my Emersonian roots.  Either way, I am sure that there is a great deal of value to reflection, rather than reaction.

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