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Ross McGarvey/Business /I Don’t Balance, I Spin Plates



I Don’t Balance, I Spin Plates

Question: How do you balance everything?

Answer: I don’t think it’s like balancing everything, I treat it more like spinning plates. When I hear the word balance, it makes me think of the word ‘harmony’ and that’s not what my life is like. I think of it like spinning plates because I go to what needs the most attention first. Everything is going to need attention at some point, so I have to move back and forth. Work keeps me busy and when I’m here, I’m here. But when my wife and kids need me to be around and be engaged, it can be difficult.

I suck at balancing everything. My greatest successes and my greatest failures came from my ability to always be out of balance. There is no balance when you’re starting a business. There’s more balance when you’re running a business (that business would need to be at a super sustainable size). But even then, a business is like a living entity and you’re in control of all the moving parts.

If I was a schoolteacher, I could probably have a well-balanced life. Because the schedule is already set. I have to teach from a set time to a set time, I have to mark papers from a set time to a set time, and I have a few months off for the summer. No one is going to call a teacher with a last minute emergency. The problems education encounters are far different than the ones marketing does.

If you’ve elected to be in business, whether small, medium or large, it doesn’t make a difference. You’re more at the beck and call of the business than it is of you. I think balance is a fallacy, to be honest. It’s a great thing to strive for, but ‘balance’ is a personal thing. For you is it working hard and then going on three vacations a year? That sounds great but here’s the trade-off. You’re going to work 60-65 hours a week for every week between those vacations. Some people are good with that. That’s the balance of 100% on and 100% off. Or is ‘balance’ for you coming home at 5 or 6 o’clock at night and spending time with your family? If that’s what matters to you and that’s important, then that’s balance.

For me, I try to be 100% aware of my kids when I’m at home. Whether it’s only an hour or 10 minutes that we’re together, I want to be as engaged as I can. I don’t want to ever cop out and say “I’ve had a busy day and I’m going to watch TV.” My hope is that they won’t tell me I wasn’t actually engaging with them enough when they’re older. 

Balance is a fine line, and it’s different for everyone.

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