Balancing Act: The Newsletter

(No. 255, November 2020)

Balancing act is in four sections this month:

  1. Twelve Things I've Learned From COVID Times
  2. The Human Condition: Gravitas
  3. Musings
Techniques For Balance

Twelve Things I've Learned From COVID Times

• Human beings find ways to express themselves with their masks, which have taken on a huge variety of looks.

• The gizmo you pull up from your neck is far more comfortable but does make me feel as though I’m about to rob a gas station. (When I take a mask off it indubitably knocks off my sunglasses.)

• TV reporters in the field, standing alone facing a camera they’ve probably set up themselves, yet wearing a mask, look ridiculous.

• You can’t fix stupid. People who protest wearing masks for some ridiculous independence reason are as dumb as parents who refuse to vaccinate their kids. What they are really saying is, “I'm hugely self-absorbed and I don’t care.”

• I can no longer listen to politicians who simply appear to me as rank amateurs and not leaders at all. They instill no confidence, they provide no guidance, exacerbated in these times.

• Justifying mass protestors in the streets but denying large attendance at religious services makes zero sense. One politician actually said, “Protests are more important than church.” Maybe to him….

• In prior crises we’ve seemed to come together, but with this one we seem to be drawing farther apart. I blame this squarely on both political parties. 

• Demanding that small businesses—especially restaurants—have limited capacity while staying open simply creates a slow death in place of an immediate one.

• I can get nearly anything delivered, and usually overnight, from food to appliances, hobby materials to furniture.

• A great many people are realizing that they really don’t have to travel all that much for business and can still be highly successful and productive.

• Online learning for primary and secondary schools doesn’t work well at all. Charter schools do this better than public schools. The teachers unions will always look to their own best interests ahead of the students’ best interests.

• This, too, shall pass. The question is not what’s happened to us, but what we’ve decided to do about it. 

A “secular prayer”: May we use this Thanksgiving period as one of reconciliation, tolerance, and forgiveness, and try to overcome chasms with bridges.

The Human Condition

“Gravitas” is dignity and seriousness in one’s manner, implying expertise and great respect.

I don’t think this is a stature which one assumes merely with age or even accomplishment. Nor do I think it’s rooted in confidence so much as commitment and passion. Instead of bravado and false confidence, these people are willing to be vulnerable and to fail in pursuit of what they feel is right.

Courage doesn’t grow from confidence, confidence grows from courage.

People with gravitas believe in their goals and their pursuits. The word “authentic” is horribly overused and misapplied today, but these people are authentic. The have the integrity to be curious, questioning and are willing to change their minds.

I find that people with gravitas are clear on their value and what they wish to pursue and why. They don’t need lessons about “clarity” because they see things quite clearly. They also are willing to listen to opposing views without condemning them, and to adjust their own if such listening merits it.

Those with gravitas are regarded with esteem and are seriously appreciated. They’re considered of worth, of import, of value. They don’t need to “fake it until they make it.” They aren’t “charmers” and “glad-handers” who are the life of the party. They are not poseurs.

Being comfortable in your own skin, understanding your abilities and worth, and constantly seeking to grow and to share are the metrics of gravitas. You’re not born with it and most people never acquire it. But some people grow into it.

There’s no reason why that can’t be intentional and purposeful if you so choose.


In the northern climes as winter approaches, with some restrictions in place, it will be too easy to become lonely. Outdoor dining, no matter how many heaters and flamethrowers, will decline. Many people are still reluctant to dine indoors at restaurants. Snow will discourage shopping. It doesn’t appear that indoor sports or theatrical events will be widely available.

Loneliness is a genuine problem, one which can inflame depression, feelings of loss, lack of productivity, a feeling of helplessness and lack of control. But it’s preventable. (Even with a family at home, one can be lonely, especially with kids glued to video games and a spouse engaged in work on the computer.)

We all differ, but essentially “loneliness” is the difference between the amount of social contact (and intimacy) that we desire and that which we actually experience as less than that. It’s mentally and emotionally painful. Some of us have higher thresholds than others before we are “lonely.”

We need to improve our outgoing social skills and feel less “guilty” about reaching out to others (as if we were “bothering” them or intruding). We can volunteer to help others, which not only brings us into contact with diverse people but also creates a feeling of contribution.

We can join new clubs or social groups, create new memberships, new subscriptions. Zoom and similar technological assets are not intended solely for business. Extended family Zoom sessions are nice, especially during the approaching holiday season.

When we feel lonely and isolated we tend to pay more attention to the negative than the positive, as you’d expect, which further exacerbates the problem. But the elimination of loneliness is within our control if we’re willing to reach out—which we’ve all probably done in the past if we’ve begun at a new school, a new job, a new relationship, or a new community.

When you reach out, you’re not merely helping yourself, you’re most probably also helping others.

Only Read This if You Know Me Well

I’m at the counter in my coffee shop, across a plexiglass barrier, and I can’t understand what the barista has just asked me. She repeats it, but it’s no better. I take off my mask and say, “Please, one more time.” But it still wasn’t clear.

(Tell me this hasn’t happened to you!)

Development Opportunities
Creating Dynamic Communities

Creating Dynamic Communities

I am providing a special edition of Creating Dynamic Communities for the Asian, Australian, and Western North American communities on December 9 and 10, at 2 pm US eastern time, three hours each day. Of course, east coast people are also invited!

Million Dollar Consulting®️ College 2020

NOW VIRTUAL: Million Dollar Consulting® College 2021

Join me for the second-ever virtual college over three mornings January 26-28 (afternoons in Europe).

We’ll have group exercises, role plays, case studies, and great interaction. To launch this new approach, I’ve reduced the fee by 50%, and you can also attend the next “live” college for free if you choose.

I can only accept a limited number of people. Use this January opportunity to help launch you into the emerging economy with new energy and new techniques.



Sentient Strategy

Sentient Strategy

We’ve certified 35 people in Sentient Strategy, an ideal methodology to remotely create a one-year strategy in just two mornings. Four sessions have already been sold to various size businesses. Learn more here.

Contact Alan


MacKay CEO Forums: My long-time client and colleague, Nancy MacKay, is seeking additional chairs for her vast network which provides virtual meetings for business owners and executives. The chairs, while continuing to run their own businesses, also facilitate these meetings periodically, and gain exposure to potential clients by also addressing the groups and becoming known within the network. Here’s a video conversation with me and Nancy with more information. You can reach Nancy for further discussions here: [email protected]. Just mention that I sent you to receive a quick response.

Alan Weiss’s Balancing Act® Newsletter is a registered trademark of Alan Weiss and Summit Consulting Group, Inc.
© Alan Weiss 2020

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