The people in control are usually those “in the center,” not on the periphery. So by “centered” here, I mean that we need to enter into that space to gain control of our lives and situation.


Balancing Act®: The Newsletter

(No. 284, April 2023)

Balancing Act® is our registered trademark. You are encouraged to share the contents with others with appropriate attribution. Please use the ® whenever the phrase “Balancing Act” is used in connection with this newsletter or our workshops.

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Balancing Act® is in four sections this month:

  1. Sort of Predictions
  2. Musings
  3. The Human Condition: Centering
  4. ORTIYKMWOYBNT-O Department

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Honors Test

    Maybe these aren’t so much predictions as my speculation, but see what you think:

  • ChatGPT is not the magic bullet, but will be very useful with instructions, broad announcements, and substituting for “boilerplate.”
  • Remote meetings of all kinds, large and small, will proliferate, and the future is about tourism travel’s increase and business travel’s decline.
  • Supply chains are moving from global to regional in view of geopolitical realities. (Which is why you also find southeast Asia countries spending more on defense and coordinating their responses.)
  • The have/have not gap will increase no matter how much political winds sweep the landscape until legislation is passed to reconcile unfair practices and compensation.
  • The old, ridiculous retirement rules will change (despite the absurd protests in France against raising retirement age) because morbidity is outstripping fertility in the developed countries, and unless intelligent immigration practices are implemented there will be profound labor shortages. We can’t afford to allow people to retire when they are still healthy and talented.
  • Misinformation and politicized information are more the rule than the exception, and we need some kind of clearing house to approve truthful reporting.
  • We need to get over the myth and sanctimony about the “40-hour week.” People in the office physically for 40 hours might be productive for half of that, so don’t expect more from remote employees.
Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.

We were chatting on about what to charge for a keynote speech. There were varying criteria mentioned, from one’s usual fee, to travel required, from the potential of the client to the client’s budget. (Most of those are wrong, but that’s a story for another time.)

A woman who has been in my community and attended most of my events over 15 years wrote, “I don’t know about you, but I’m not getting up and putting makeup on for less than $10,000!”

This is probably why the movement to convince men to wear makeup never went anywhere. But I digress. My point is that we need to run our businesses and to lead our lives using the right metrics for us.

Many speakers faced the pandemic with fear, realizing they would lose the “live” speeches and decided they’d have to reduce their fees in order to be hired on a remote basis. But they were using the wrong metric—what they cost instead of what they provided, the importance of their presence rather than the value they deliver.

It’s clear today that those who can speak, facilitate, train, run meetings, and so forth are far more valuable than ever, because the client is saving hundreds of thousands of dollars by not having to assemble large groups of employees. That’s the metric that counts. And the value of one’s content is not diminished by distance. In fact, in many ways Zoom is more intimate than a large in-person meeting.

It’s important, of course, to learn what others are doing in their businesses to create a frame of reference. But it’s not valuable to blindly apply their metrics—even when they’re successful—to our own endeavors. We have to be comfortable in our own skin.

One last advisory: If you want to improve your income, don’t think about how to increase your fees. Think about how to increase your value. If you do that, the fees will follow.

We have nothing to fear but fear itself


The people in control are usually those “in the center,” not on the periphery. So by “centered” here, I mean that we need to enter into that space to gain control of our lives and situation. In racquetball, it’s important to dominate the “T” in the center of the court. In chess, it’s vital to control the center of the board early on.

But we often allow ourselves to be centrifugally tossed to the outside.

There were recent warnings of a dire snowstorm in the Northeast (a “Nor’easter”) that would dump feet of snow all over the region. I was in Atlanta the day prior making a television appearance. It was uncertain as to whether I’d be able to get home, and I had a full slate of calls set for the next day.

I concluded I could make the calls from Atlanta and simply stay an extra night. I could also investigate other airports to fly into. And I could track the incoming flight I would be on which is very easy using flight tracking software on my phone.

The Providence flight kept reporting that it was on time. I went to the airport, having arranged for an Uber to meet me at the TV station and get me there quickly. Boston flights were being cancelled, only an hour north of Providence. Yet our flight took off on time—the man next to me had come from a cancelled Boston flight.

When we landed, there was zero snow on the ground. Nada. Nothing.

I’d like to think that I remained “centered” during that day, keeping in mind what my options were and planning for success, not failure. I didn’t cancel appointments reflexively, nor try to book other flights. I simply kept my options opened, stayed calm, and acted with control and command.

You can, too. Simply control the center. And, unlike racquetball and chess, you have no opponent trying to force you out.

I'm an Old Cowhand...

My wife and I wanted to watch the football playoff games, but had to attend a meeting. So I recorded the second game, knowing we’d be able to watch the first one. When we returned, we inadvertently had heard the score was 10-3. But when we turned on the taped game, it rapidly went to 42-14 only about ten minutes later. We also couldn’t understand the warm weather we were seeing in a winter game in the north in an open stadium.

It took us ten more minutes to realize I had recorded a prior playoff game of the teams that was being shown as a lead-in.

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