Balanceability is a word I coined that means the ability to balance your life.  Erik Erikson, the father of balance research, identified 8 stages of psychosocial balance. Each stage represents an internal conflict–a crisis–that people experience as they grow, with positive and negative turning points. According to Erikson, in order to live a healthy life, we need to discover the balance between the positive and negative elements of these crises.

The first stage is trust versus mistrust.

Typically, this stage is from birth to 18 months, though, as with any stage, you can go in and out throughout your lifetime.  And Erikson isn’t alone in his theory. Scores of psychologists have written about the importance of the first two years of life on personality development. Do you know much about your first two years? Ask your parents, caregivers, and extended family to fill in the blanks–you might be surprised.

Some questions to ask:

  • As an infant, could I trust that my parents would care for me when I needed them?
  • In my early years, did I discover that life was safe or unsafe–fair or unfair?
  • Did I experience trust or mistrust with people in my life?
  • Did I begin to believe that I was okay or not okay?

These are the types of experiences that develop your basic sense of trust or mistrust. We need a healthy balance of both. Trust helps us to form attachments, relationships, and friendships with self, family, friends, and the world around us. Mistrust helps us protect ourselves from hurtful people and situations. Problems arise when we’re out of balance on either side.

Too much trust can make you gullible, naive, or Pollyanna-like, making you a target for being taken advantage of in life.

Too much mistrust can make you critical, guarded, pessimistic, and unfulfilled in relationships.

In his book Encounters With the Self, author Don Hamachek summarizes the implicit attitude of a person experiencing trust and mistrust.

Trust is…

  • I’m okay, you’re okay
  • Life is generally fair and good to me
  • I’m willing to share what I have

Mistrust is…

  • You’re not okay, I’m not okay
  • Life is generally unfair and unkind to me
  • I’m not willing to share what I have

Here are 3 tips on developing a healthy balance between trust and mistrust:

  1. View people as good, but realize they are human and will eventually disappoint you. When this happens, it’s not the end of the world because, at their core, people are good and the world is generally a good place.
  2. Practice creating a balance between giving and receiving personal information. Be aware–can the person you’re engaging with match your self disclosure?
  3. Balance the favors, compliments, possessions, and gifts that you give and receive. Giving too much or too little will ultimately disrupt the equilibrium in your relationships.

How’s your balanceability between trust and mistrust? What do you need to do to achieve a happy, healthy balance?

I’m ashamed to admit the following: I haven’t read a fiction book since my senior year in high school when we were assigned The Great Gatsby (an elegant, must-read classic if it didn’t make your list).

Now, let me explain before you vote me off the island. I have a Masters degree in counseling psychology so I have read non-fiction voraciously for 20 years. Early in our marriage, when my wife and I visited my in laws, they would chide me for always having my nose in a book.

20 years later, I’m beginning to see that I’m a Type A personality that needs to learn to lighten up. My wife has a Type B personality and loves to cuddle up with her soft blanket, our cat Savannah, and a new novel.  And I think she’s onto something.

Every time I get my hair cut, my stylist tells me about the latest page turner on her nightstand, which helps her to escape her worries and distract her from daily stress. And my good friend Latham, a book consultant, and the author of The Graffiti Sculptor told me I need to read more pleasure books to chill. After a few big hints, it looks like I’ve finally come up with a novel idea to relax: I can lighten up with some light reading.

So right now I’m reading Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild as my first adventure in reading for relaxation.

That’s right, this Type A guy is making the commitment to read just for fun. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What about you? Do your friends and family chide you for being all work and no play?  Is it difficult to pry yourself away from work material to do something you really enjoy?  If you’re a Type A personality who is highly driven to accomplish and succeed but not as adept at R&R, it’s time to take a chill pill, put your feet up, and page your way through some fun.

I want to know what’s on your nightstand.  Leave a comment with your favorite pleasure read.  I could use something to follow up my trip into the wild.

Do you want to build a new friendship or strengthen your marriage? Need to repair conflict with a co-worker? Dream of having the self confidence to speak up for what you want?

Researchers at UCLA report that success in life is 20% intellect and 80% emotional intelligence. Boosting your emotional intelligence begins with growing your people skills–the foundation for a happy, successful life.

Be smart from the heart. Here are my top 5 EI tips:

1. Know your emotions

Knowing your emotions is like being a good wine connoisseur. When an oenophile–a wine lover–sips a Cabernet or Zinfandel, you probably won’t hear them describe it simply as “good” or bad.”  Wine may be dry or fruity, smooth or complex, smoky or spicy, tart or buttery–it’s full of subtle aromas, tastes, and textures.  Does your feeling vocabulary express the complexity, subtleties, and wide range of emotions in your life? Become an emotion connoisseur. Get a feeling magnet and hang it on your refrigerator or filing cabinet at work to help you identify your many emotions throughout the day.

2. Manage your emotions

Stuffing leads to hypertension, headaches, muscle tightness, and emotional constipation. Spewing leads to aggression, impulsive behavior, conflicts with people, and hurt feelings. Take the balanced approach to managing your emotions and share your feelings calmly. Sharing, instead of stuffing or spewing, rewards you with self-awareness, physical relief, improved communication in relationships, and, of course, a boost in your emotional intelligence.

3. Motivate yourself

Self-motivated people enjoy happier relationships, higher spirits, and a stronger sense of self responsibility. Want to crank up your self motivation and win every day?

  • Dive into reading and learning about topics that rev your engines
  • Watch movies and listen to music that inspires you
  • Spend quality time with other motivated people
  • Set goals and compete with yourself to achieve them
  • Celebrate your victories

4. Identify and recognize emotions in other people

Reading facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and eye contact are crucial to fully understanding others and strengthening your emotional intelligence. Don’t only listen for what is being said, pay attention to what is unsaid, as well. Train yourself to state the obvious. For example; “You keep looking at the floor when you are talking to me. Help me understand what is going on inside of you right now.” The better you can read and understand other peoples’ “traffic signs,” the more successful you will be in connecting and communicating in meaningful, healthy ways. Traffic signals keep us safely on the road to our destination.  The same is true in relationships.

5. Care for your relationships

As leadership expert, John C. Maxwell says, “People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” Caring for relationships is like tending a garden.  You must prepare a foundation, plant seeds, nurture the buds as they grow, manage weeds, and harvest the fruit. Ask yourself, how can I tend to the relationships in my life?  Is it time to plant?  Time to nurture?  Time to harvest? You may not have a green thumb but when you care for the relationships in your life, building emotional intelligence along the way, you are certain to see love and friendship blossom.

Is your workplace prone to burnout?

Creating a work/life balance is not just an employee’s job, it’s their boss’ job, too.  That’s because the workplace plays a pivotal role in one’s balanceability. Whether you are a small business owner, corporate CEO, or leader/manager, it is your responsibility to create a balance-friendly environment in the workplace.

How exactly do you do that? Avoid these 11 burnout factors!

1. Ambiguity

Do your employees have clear goals and objectives? Criticism and conflict arises when priorities, rules, and expectations are not clearly communicated consistently.

2. Alienation

When coworkers are isolated and management is far removed, this creates emotional distance and walls that prevent team work. What can you do to promote unity, better working relationships, and workplace camaraderie?

3. Boredom

Do you manage people who are overqualified or have jobs that do not match their expertise? Routines without challenge lead to people feeling bored and becoming mentally idle.  As the saying goes, “An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.”

4. Conflict

Are your employees caught in the crossfire of arguments and conflict? If management and employees are feuding like the Hatfields and the McCoys, the workplace will be an unsafe place, stifling productivity. Do you provide periodic training on conflict resolution skills and fair fighting?

5. Inadequate information

Information is power. People need to be informed so they can make adequate decisions. Keeping secrets and leaving people out of the loop creates hostility in any workplace environment, especially corporate culture.

6. Poor feedback

Most folks are hungry for approval and fearful of criticism. At the same time, people want to know if the work they are doing is right or wrong. Healthy feedback spurs progress. Management should give thorough feedback throughout the year, not only during performance reviews.

7. Powerlessness

A sense of powerlessness leads to hopelessness. An employee who feels powerless may feel trapped with no way out and, at the same time, managers will be more prone to give up if they feel like they don’t have any influence. Find small ways to give your employees choices, sharing power and influence with everyone on your team.

8. Poor teamwork

Favoritism and office politics can undermine a productive team. Help the individuals in your workplace to cooperate rather than compete.

9. Punishment

Management is lame when it uses the blame game. And while discipline teaches, punishment breeds embarrassment, lack of appreciation, and resentment.

10. Lack of rewards

Positive rewards motivate a team and help boost morale. Successes need to be celebrated. Give respect and appreciation to each individual on your team and match their skills with work that is satisfying to them.

11. Value conflict

Are your employees selling something they don’t believe in? Are they being asked to make decisions that don’t fit their value system? It’s the upper leadership’s responsibility to match the employee with the work value.

These 11 factors can cause even the most motivated person to experience burnout. Fireproof your workplace and set aside some time this week to discuss these factors with your team. Brainstorm ways that, together, you can create and sustain a balance-friendly workplace. And don’t forget to tell me how it goes! Leave a comment with the results.


What dynamite daily activity can balance your business, build referrals, and boost your income?  Networking!  Check out my lucky 7 secrets to networking success:

1.  Build Your brand

Effectively networking with others starts with knowing how to sell yourself, which I break down into 3 parts.

1.  Get a name badge
2.  Invest in professional business cards
3.  Prepare your 7-9 second elevator speech

The name badge will get the conversation started and help people remember who you are. Then, when someone asks what you do, you can whip out your snazzy business card without fumbling over what to say.  That’s why your 7-9 second speech is for, hooking your listener so they’ll have a reason to keep your card–and, hopefully, use it.

2. Smile + style = success

They say you’re never fully dressed without a smile.  A bright, genuine smile attracts people and lets them know you are open for connection.  Accessorize your grin with what you wear.  The styles and colors you choose communicate how professional, personable, and playful you are. Craft your image wisely and make sure you match your body language to your style choices.

3. Host the party

You have to act like the host to get the most. When you’re at an event, don’t sit in the corner waiting for people to come to you. Adopt a party host’s attitude.  Get up and greet people as they arrive. Help introduce, direct people and answer questions.

4. Play the name game

There’s no shame in forgetting a name. I hate it when I forget someone’s name, but I’m human and I meet hundreds of new people a month–sometimes every week.  When you’re introduced to someone new, ask for a business card. If you’re unsure about a contact’s name, don’t be afraid to have a third party remind you before you initiate a conversation. My favorite way to dodge an uncomfortable situation when I’m fuzzy on someone’s name is to introduce them to a third party and let the two people say their names in front of you.

5. Make an exchange

Networking is all about give and take.  Receive business cards with enthusiasm and take a few seconds to identify something that grabs your attention about the card you’ve been handed.  Pocketing a card without reading it over can feel like a slap in the face.  Then, when you’re presenting your card in exchange, add an extra–one is to keep and one is to give away as a referral.

6. Listen and glisten

There’s no better way to leave a lasting impression on someone than to give them an opportunity to shine–to glisten.  In other words, it’s not all about you.  Ask open ended questions and encourage the other person to talk about their business, their family, their children, their pet, their vacation, their struggles, their dreams. You won’t just make a new contact, you’ll make a new friend.

7.  Follow up

You have to touch base to stay in the game.  Following up with a card, an email, or a quick call is an extra touch that will sear you into your contact’s mind like a steak on a hot grill.  This follow up may just turn into a phone conversation, a business lunch, or  an opportunity to make big money.