It’s what many people today wish for, work toward, and try to achieve. Most of us would like to have more balance in our lives. But life is busier than ever, there are many demands on our time and energy, and we spend much of our time being pulled in many directions. Few of us ever seem to achieve the balance we’re looking for.

Maybe we’re looking for the wrong thing.

Say the word “balance,” and I picture an old circus act in which a performer would start a number of plates spinning around, balanced on top of tall sticks, and then run from one to another to keep them spinning so the plates wouldn’t fall and break.

Or I think of a tightrope walker – as long as we’re on circus acts – inching his way along the high wire. Or, closer to home and more down to earth, I imagine someone standing on one foot, arms outstretched, constantly shifting their weight slightly in order to stay upright without having to put the other foot down.
This is not how I want to spend my life – especially now that I found something better to strive for. Not balance, but harmony.

I realized this during a recent coaching session. The person I was coaching is also a personal friend, and I’ve known her long enough to know about the many different activities and projects she’s been involved in over the last few years. During one of our sessions, we were exploring different things that motivate her and excite her, and musical words and phrases kept coming up. In particular, harmony.

What occurred to us both is that harmony is a form of balance, but it doesn’t involve equal time for everything, or making sure we don’t drop the ball on anything as we go about our day. Harmony doesn’t necessitate giving up some of the things we do and enjoy in order to do a better job on the ones that are more important. And it’s not about preventing things from crashing to the ground or falling through the cracks. It’s about getting everything working together so we can create a rich, satisfying life.

I’m working really hard here to keep from saying “so we can make beautiful music,” but that actually sums it up.

Think about a symphony orchestra. Or a rock band, if that’s more your style. Either way, there are a number of different voices and instruments, and they all play a part – but not all at the same time, or in equal measure. Some almost always carry the melody. They’re usually front and center, getting the most attention. Others stay in the background most of the time, but come to the forefront when needed. Some are silent for long periods of time, but when it’s their turn to shine, they do.

It’s worth pointing out that without direction, the same voices and instruments that sound so pleasing together might instead produce nothing but noise and annoyance. What they need is someone who knows the score and who coordinates their roles. Someone who understands what they are and what they are capable of. Someone who can blend the strengths of each of them into something amazing.

That would be you.

The voices and instruments are the different parts of your life. Sure, you can keep trying to balance them, but getting them in harmony will be much more enriching and rewarding.

My friend and coaching client is now seeing or implementing harmony into pretty much everything she does. It showed up at a place where she was vacationing recently, and even as she was getting her hair done at a new salon. (She and her hairdresser had a conversation about “Harmony Hair,” but that’s another story.) She also gave me her permission and blessing to write about it in my column.

“Share it with as many people as you can,” she told me. “The more people who are in harmony with each other, the better we’ll all be.”

Her words were generous, inspiring, and encouraging.

And music to my ears.

The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on April 4, 2013.
©Betty Liedtke, 2013

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