Grabbing life by the balls
Updated: Dec 18, 2018
‘Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them - work, family, health, friends and spirit … and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls – family, health, friends and spirit – are made of glass. If you drop one of these they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same’ Richard Branson.
In an ideal world we’d all have a better work life balance, we’d take proper time to relax, we
might even only work 3 days a week. We’d sleep, we’d spend quality time with friends and
family. We wouldn’t try to push past an illness to try and meet a deadline. The way that the
world works today in our ‘always on’ culture, where we are quite often beholden to the notion
that survival of the species is based on making as much money as possible, makes us often
lose track of the importance of getting the work, rest and play balance right. (Apologies for
anyone who recognizes that line from an old Mars Bar advert, I’m not subliminally telling you
to eat Mars bars to relax – although THEY WERE – how criminal).
Anyway, what matters is that we remember to take a step back once in a while to assess where we are. To try and see through the clutter and plan in time to switch off so we don’t end up overdoing it. Our bodies are amazingly adaptive machines and they can be pushed to some scary limits, particularly if we are throwing down all manner of synthetic energy, caffeine and sugary snacks to get through the day. But at what cost to our health in the long run? Stress impacts how every cell in our bodies work and the good kind that can be found in exercise and movement can help maintain health. But the bad kind that is derived from being in toxic and unhealthy work environments, or by surviving on processed or non- food can impact our immune systems, our digestion and absorption of nutrients and the ability of every organ in the body to function properly, leading to many more conditions down the line. We need to get better at giving ourselves a break (without thinking of Kit Kats – damn those ritual- marketing manipulators) and building these into our daily lives. Taking time out at lunch to be outside (ok for 10 mins now because it’s boiling), taking lunch away from your desk a couple of times a week. Realizing that deadline is not as important as your mother’s birthday. Meeting up with friends who make you feel good about your life. Taking care of the people who take care of you.
The irony is that building these times in and stepping away the lap top is necessary for you to have the ability to actually do your job - and will probably make you better at it. I don’t live a life with regrets but I often wonder where I would be health-wise if I hadn’t had focused so much on the rubber ball and hadn’t dropped all of the others. Would I have ever got my autoimmune disease? Perspective and priorities are everything when it comes to your health and this is coming from one of the leading businessmen in the world. Let’s be more mindful of those glass balls.