Few words in the English language have such a positive general connotation as does the word 'Balance'.

Many simply have accepted balance as a universally positive term denoting soundness, equilibrium, steadiness, rock solid, control, commanding the situation, wisdom, prudence and humility.

Without question creating 'balance' can be a very positive and necessary process but more and more these days in our current culture influenced heavily by political correctness, the word balance has been high jacked to excuse away and massage a lack of commitment, work ethic and focus.

Let me explain.

The harsh reality is that being exceptional in anything means a life somewhat out of what the normal would call 'balance'.

Lindsey Vonn, the face of team USA in the 2010 Winter Olympics, and her family moved far away to Colorado at 12 so she could develop her gifts of skiing.   Everyone in the Vonn family sacrificed a great deal for her career.  Lindsey and her father still have a strained relationship.  There is nothing easy about being great.  Being great is often tough on everyone.  It is uncomfortable.  There are no exceptions.

I've been researching one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Dan Gable, a great deal lately.  After reading his life story, no one would suggest Gable's life was 'balanced'. Instead he was driven, extreme and obsessive.  He sacrificed many, many things that the average kid in Iowa enjoyed.

Many would suggest Dan's success came at an unreasonable cost.  Maybe so, but one thing is certain in my opinion, a very high percentage of these very people who roll their eyes and scoff at the 'unreasonableness' of Gable's life will never themselves be in the top 1% of their profession...whatever that profession.  There is a high cost in becoming great.  Most do not want to pay it.  One has to ski on the edges to go fast.  Greatness absolutely demands certain degrees of imbalance.

That is not to suggest we train stupidly or without awareness.  That is not to say we always throw caution to the wind and risk injury every day.  That is not to say we don't routinely step back, assess our progress and make certain we haven't gone too far in specific areas or need to add a counterbalance.

What I'm saying is that you must specifically choose and monitor your imbalances...but on some things there will be no balance.  If we want to be exceptional we must choose to be on the edge.

For example...one could not become a world class mathematician if every single day of her academic career from preschool  through her PhD her time was equally divided (balanced) between math, science, art, history, literature, foreign language, spelling and athletics.

But that schedule is very well balanced...is it not?

At some point one has to choose.  Sometimes that choice can come later.  Other times that choice is required earlier.

It's the classic...Jack of all trades...master at none.

I remind all of you the balance between hot and cold is lukewarm.  The balance between blurry and a laser beam focus is a soft focus.  The balance between exceptionally bright light and complete darkness...is a dimly lit corner.

Personally, in my profession, I would much rather have a white hot, laser beam focus...rather than a lukewarm, dim,  soft focus.

And ladies and gentleman, I see dozens and dozens of the second type EVERY SINGLE day.  They are everywhere.

As Jim Rohn was fond of saying... 'Casualness leads to casualties'.

While the concept of balance still has a powerfully positive connotation to me...I find myself railing more and more against its common abuse by many who like to disparage achievers for their 'obsessive' behavior and excuse their own lack of commitment away under the guise of 'all work and no play makes Jack a very dull boy'.

That maybe true but 1) I in fact reject the very premise that I can't be exceptional AND also have a fulfilling life outside of my particular passion...and 2) in any event...I'd MUCH rather be considered a dull, obsessive, driven boy than a dim bulb

The true concept of 'Balance', in my experience, is often much wider and deeper than most young people and parents actually understand.  Only by risking certain degrees of imbalance can we truly have opportunities to be exceptional.  After all exceptional....means exception to the rule.