Balanced and Focused became my touchstone in the spring of 1998 as I sought to recover from the absurdity of my life. It was originally the battle-cry of my close friend and mentor, the late Bud Johnston. Bud was an exceptional individual and he culled most of his wisdom from his 67 year career as a renowned veterinarian. He once told me that he never met a person with a dog or horse problem; rather he had met thousands of dogs and horses with people problems. He had a strong “inner-knower” and used his pragmatism and intuition to help heal animals and people too.
Balanced is about my having a credible claim to internal peace…
Describing what Balanced and Focused are can be difficult. They are centering points or intentions that confirm that my life makes sense from the inside out. Balanced is about my having a credible claim to internal peace; when I look in the mirror, I like the person that is staring back at me. When I am on point from the perspective of Balance, then my loved ones and closest friends describe me as the man whom I appear to be.
Focused is an equal but somewhat opposing force and it describes what I choose to lean into with my life.
Focused is an equal but somewhat opposing force and it describes what I choose to lean into with my life. It is how I choose to express my core essence. Were someone to investigate the things to which I lend my Focus, my activities should reflect my deepest calling. When they do not, I feel discontented. When there is congruence with my outer and inner selves, I have a credible claim to peace in my life. I have established a healthy Balance and Focus.
Slowing down and trying softer are untapped performance artworks in a world of self-made men chasing success in the overworked and amped-up environment of our plasti-cast culture. I can be lulled in to forgetting that just because an opportunity is good, that does not mean that it is good for me. It is important to maintain a healthy distance between the invitations that I receive and my response to them. The near mindless momentum of life tempts me to chain myself to an endless stream of activity that fills my days with busyness. Breaking free of that momentum is an act of the will and a direct result of my staying conscious and attuned to my deepest desires and purpose.
Slowing down and trying softer…
There have been times, earlier in my life during which I was convinced that if I could just get my “outsides” right, then I could one day feel as though my “insides” were right as well. I had hoped that the success that I was experiencing would find its way into the deeper parts me and set things right in my core. Ironically, the more successful that I became on the outside, the greater my discontent grew on the inside. I discovered that success that comes from the outside-in is an unseasoned dish; it fills me up but in the end, it really doesn’t taste very good.
Abe Lincoln said, “I have been driven many times upon my knees by the overwhelming conviction that I had nowhere else to go.” I am acquainted with his sense of desperation and bewilderment. I had no option but to reconstruct my life from the inside-out. I had no place left to go but in to the depth of my inmost being. I was determined to abandon the outside-in approach so that I might go deep and rediscover myself. I had hoped that this effort would lead me to a greater calling in my life. Thankfully…it has!
I contend that establishing Balance and Focus is at odds with our culture. These disciplines are contradictory to many of the ingrained habits that dictate much of daily life. Balance and Focus are not states that I ever completely achieve, rather they can be carefully nourished through disciplined effort and personal rigor. I have found that there is no quick-fix when trying to establish a life of real significance, one that will stand the test of time.
My daily spiritual and emotional practice is centered on nurturing balance deep inside me, in order for me to remain decidedly focused as I live, work and express my unique person-hood and joy in living.