Balance: Watch your step!

We’ve all seen the guy at the circus, feeling his way across the tightrope, hundreds of feet above the audience. Everybody is watching, the pressure is on, and there is a collective holding of the breath, afraid of the worst. In reality, some sick souls in the crowd are actually hoping the performer falls, then the admission ticket would really be worth its price.

The obvious key to getting from one platform, way up high, to the other, is balance. The circus performer uses a long pole to assist in keeping balance. Slowly and methodically, the entertainer moves across the rope and, ultimately, we all (except for the sick souls) breathe a sigh of relief as he reaches the goal of the other platform.

If you are a leader, you get the connection. You are on a tight rope, way above the crowd (I am in no way implying the superiority of the leader, simply his/her visibility). Everybody is watching, the pressure is on, and some sick souls are actually hoping you fall. How do keep yourself from becoming tomorrow’s headline: “Leader Splats on the Ground!”?

Balance is the key. You had better have something to hold on to. The winds are whipping around up there. The tight rope seems to shift around from time to time. Have you seen the guy at the circus perform this stunt while blindfolded? You get the picture . . .

I suppose shaky knees and a weak backbone will work against you. You can’t look too far ahead, you need to look at your next step. You need to have practiced plenty down low before you go to the top level. So many analogies . . .

Let me encourage you: stay on the tight rope. Don’t allow the gasps of onlookers to frighten you. Many of them are also called to walk the rope but they are too cowardly to give it a try. Don’t allow the bright lights and loud music (or the smell of the elephants) to get to you. Stay focused, and for goodness sake, maintain balance!

What about the sick soul who is hoping you will fall? My advice?: Ignore him. If you are focusing on him, you are not focusing on maintaining your balance. Send him home, grouching about the cost of admission. All the while, you are walking the tightrope, from one platform to the next.

Thanks goodness, we don’t have to wear a leotard.

Compromise: Friend or Foe?

Is compromise a good idea or a bad one? As a leader, can you ever be tempted to allow compromise to define, at least in part, who you are?

Like many other words in our language, in order for us to understand the value of the concept of “compromise”, we must first understand the context. In matters of reputation, integrity and morality, compromise is clearly something that true leaders shun at all costs. We learn early on that compromisers in areas of character will fail. Nothing is more distasteful that to have to work with a weak individual who has no sense of personal integrity.

But what place, if any, does compromise have in areas of relationships, communication with loved ones, and life outside of work? Many times, those who place a high value on reputation and character also struggle with the idea of conciliation in their personal relationships. In order to get along successfully with others, we must also learn the value of cooperation, give and take and we have to know how to find the “middle ground”. This is not an affront to your integrity, it is a necessary skill if we are to enjoy healthy friendships and family lives.

Are you carrying over your insistence of “no compromise” into areas of your personal life? If so, how is that going for you? Do you find yourself right most of the time, but alone?

Never fade from your stand for integrity, but don’t allow this emphasis to prevent you from being a warm and forgiving individual.

Leaders must learn how to stay true to form in matters of character. We must also know how to negotiate on issues of the heart.