By: Gideon Pfeffer, The GSH Group’s Managing Partner
The coronavirus has a lot of us feeling off-balance in work and life. Routines, goals, and business plans have been up-ended. Practically everything as we know it has shifted in some way. It’s certainly been an interesting thing to navigate as a CEO with business partners, a network of incredible investors, and thousands of families and essential workers living in our properties. Every decision myself or my team makes during this pandemic (and beyond) impacts the balance of someone’s livelihood. So needless to say, the concept of balance has been on my mind quite a bit lately.
Balance is defined in two ways: first, “an even distribution of weight, enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady,” and second, “a condition in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.” I want to lean into that second definition — this idea of different elements being in equal proportion. Balance has become somewhat of a guiding principle for me as I strive to keep important elements like my health, marriage, family, financial well-being, work, and spirituality in equal proportion.
Within each of those areas, there are a whole host of items that need to stay in balance. For my physical and spiritual health, am I exercising, eating well, meditating, journaling? For my personal relationships, am I spending quality time with my wife and children? Within the GSH Group, are we finding new opportunities while keeping our current properties profitable? Do our partners and team members feel respected, valued, and heard? Are our tenants enjoying a good quality of life?
It’s a lot to juggle. And it’s challenging. But I find that, especially during a time when the whole world feels off-kilter, striving for balance in these key areas of my life on a daily basis ultimately helps me become more centered, successful, happy, and better able to navigate times of stress.
Balance has been a huge focus in my life even before the coronavirus pandemic. If you’re assuming I was born this way or that this is some innate zen personality trait, the answer is a resounding “no.” I didn’t grow up with money, and it seemed to be something that stressed my parents out. So at an early age, I told myself that I would make enough money to not worry about it. I entered the business world and immediately attached my self-worth to material wealth and abundance. Ironically, even as I got more successful, I still felt like a failure because my ego constantly told me I should be better; I should have more. The voice in my head kept saying, “If I close that next deal, get that car, accomplish that next goal…then I’ll be happy.” The thing is, I was miserable. As my marriage suffered, my health suffered, my relationships suffered, I finally had an awakening. I had everything that I thought was supposed to make me happy, but I wasn’t. The way I was doing things wasn’t working.
Around that time, my wife Jaime suggested to me that balance is an inside job. Her own similar awakening put her on the path to becoming a renowned coach and author, and now the advice she’d given to clients around the world was hitting home: I needed to figure out how to be happy with myself before I could be happy with anything else. I couldn’t keep going, going, going with my head down (a hard pill to swallow for a lot of entrepreneurs!). I had to let go of the urge to be the best and start focusing on what’s important.
Encouraged by Jaime’s guidance, I started journaling. Every single day I would write down what was important to me and tried working on those things. I also started seeking outside advice, looking to people who were successful in business, wellness, and relationships to see what they did to achieve balance.
What I learned from all of these leaders, including my wife, is that peace and balance boil down to a few key principles:
- Don’t resist the reality of what’s in front of you. I get closer to balance when I stop trying to hustle and fix things and instead focus on quieting my mind and letting intuition guide me.
- Have compassion and empathy not only for others, but for yourself. I am constantly learning to shift that “do more” and “be better” voice in my head to a narrative that is more compassionate and less defensive.
- Have humility. In the early days of my career, marriage, and fatherhood, I didn’t ask for help. When I realize that I don’t know everything, that I should listen to others, and approach situations with openness and honesty, I am closer to being in balance as a business partner, boss, husband, and dad.
What’s amazing is that once I stopped grinding and striving, once I let go of the fear that I wouldn’t be enough or have enough, the things I actually wanted came to me more easily and freely than they did when I was attached to them. As I discovered how to create goals that detached from a specific outcome and stopped equating my self-worth with achievement, more of my goals started to come true. As I found internal balance, the other pieces of my life became more balanced, too.
That’s not to say that finding balance has been or will ever be some kind of effortless cure-all.
It’s a daily practice. No matter what industry you’re in or what your lifestyle may look like, remember that balance isn’t about being perfect or having it all figured out. It’s about understanding what is important to you and attending to those things in as close to equal proportion as you can. It’s about being open, honest, and willing to be the best version of yourself today. It’s about reflecting on what worked or didn’t work every day and learning what you can do to get closer to balance in the day ahead.
Stay tuned for my next post that focuses on balance in business.