All around us there appears to be a continuous focus on balance. Yin and yang, opposites attract, are terms we frequently hear. Yes, balance enables us to detect the heavy spots and address them with counterbalance. Yet how effective is balance, if it’s at the expense of alignment? How often do we hear or think about alignment? Do we ask ourselves how does a particular course of action, be that in life or business actually align with who I really am? It might be great to have a balanced diet, does that mean you can eat nothing but junk food for three and a half days a week? Because that would be balanced, wouldn’t it? Yet it may align with you better to eat healthy all week and cheat a little at the weekend.
It’s the same with business. Do you work the 9-5 or do you want to work flat out for a few months then take a month off aka Tim Ferris 4-hour work week style? Which way best aligns with your way of being? What approach aligns and enables you to remain the CEO of your life, enabling you to succeed in all areas? This may well be a more pertinent question to ask than do I have a work-life balance?
Ask any entrepreneur, to others their life may appear work-work, yet to the passionate purpose-driven entrepreneur, as Richard Branson says, work is play and play is work. Many entrepreneurs don’t want balance as they’re way more focused on being aligned. There is no disconnect with how they live their life so there’s no waiting for retirement to have fun because work provides them with just that. In many ways, alignment is a higher-level life skill and one that can have a serious impact on your business too.
A conversation with Logan Estop-Hall Co-Founder and CEO of Rebel Hack Studios brought this to light. Logan had just resigned from another business that he had co-founded, as he felt that the culture did not align with him anymore. He felt that to be true to himself and pursue his real purpose he needed to step away, and leave the business to his co-founders to take forward. Choosing to do so caused him to experience a sense of loss, even though he knew it was the right thing for him to do. Logan knew he had to search for a new direction that was calling him. But laying his finger on what this meant was harder than he thought. Listening to Logan it felt as if there were two versions of Logan, one that appeared to be a facade, behind which there were glimmers of another, more real Logan. It was apparent he was trying to shake off the mask he had worn in his last start-up, yet was finding it hard to find something to anchor the current evolving Logan to.
Whilst exploring his attitudes and the things that he loved to do away from work Logan suddenly came alive. His tone changed, there was a palpable pulsing kind of energy in his words. He started talking about pushing himself, putting himself in a place where he was forced to learn or face the consequences, and oddly his ‘safe’ place existed in doing something dangerous; extreme sports. He was a big surfer, skier, and skater and had disconnected from these passions whilst doing his last business and in doing so felt he had become a shell of his former adventure loving self.
Logan was challenged to pick up his skateboard again, go out and do what he loved – the rest would come naturally. The result…Logan’s energy completely changed, the idea that he could both skateboard and do business, and more importantly, carry the Logan persona from the skate park into the office excited him. He realised it was not about being what everyone else wanted him to be, instead it was about truly being what he was – a big kid when down the skate park – then using the very same energy to fuel his entrepreneurial ventures. The realisation of the disconnect between the person he was being and the person he really was became his powerful eureka moment, especially as he found it liberating that when he was the real Logan, he was ticking all the boxes of the 2% mindset because Logan like all of us thrive and grow outside of our comfort zone. Calling him out on this and empowering him to be the real Logan was the obvious next step, which he bravely took.
Logan went on to found Rebel Hack (yes, the name says it all), a growth marketing agency whose purpose is to help the best business ideas get above the noise using data and other non-ordinary methods. Two years on, Rebel Hack is still going and growing from strength to strength. And yes, Logan is skating nearly every day and better than ever. He took the idea of pushing himself even further outside his comfort zone by competing in an amateur boxing match at London’s O2 arena, [which he won].
This is the real Logan, someone that takes no prisoners, and does not concern himself with failing, getting hurt, bruised, beaten up or broken. For him it’s about the journey, being true to himself and being aligned with his inner self. So entrepreneurs, perhaps it’s time to think of yourself as a tire, and focus on being both balanced and aligned. You might need some support to challenge your own status quo as Logan did, but being real and the subsequent results would be worth it. Any doubts, just ask Logan. He’s about to take on his biggest challenge yet, that of being a good father to his newly born son Dylan.