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Creating Balance

October 6

Commercial Real Estate Broker

Creating balance as a commercial real estate broker has always been an important driver in my career and in my personal life.  I would rate myself anywhere from moderately successful to completely disastrous in this endeavor depending on when you asked me (or my wife).  It seems that the world  of commercial real estate investment turns in such a way that there is  always too much or too little to do.  Rarely is there consistency in workflow.  Balance is always a very elusive aspiration.   Mix in family, hobbies, and community obligations and it can be difficult to do everything well.

From my early days in the industry as a commercial real estate broker, it always fascinated me to see how different clients and peers tackled this issue.  Some have been very strict in maintaining not only a work-life balance but also a balance within their work as a commercial real estate broker.  I have watched others who have embraced  the “all in” mentality, burning the candle at both ends to take advantage of opportunities while they existed.

A few months ago, I read an article written by Alex Lawrence, a local entrepreneur, professor, and friend that was published in Utah Business magazine.   I thought that he did a great job addressing these issues as they relate to entrepreneurship but also found them very applicable to me as a commercial real estate broker.

I have included the article below along with a link to the full article at the bottom of the page.  Thanks Alex.

Have it All

The Entrepreneur’s Elusive Search for Balance

By Alex Lawrence

March 5, 2015

Life-work balance is always something people seem to talk about. Any busy person worth their salt has had the balance discussion a time or 10. How do you balance all that you have going on? As an entrepreneur, work, family, hobbies, service, fun, sleep and more are all pulling at you in what feels like a never-ending tug of war between a variety of people and items that need time and attention.

There isn’t enough time in the day to do it all! So one must seek balance, the proper way to keep the scales in harmony. Place an equal amount of one thing on the left, and an equal amount of the other on the right, and poof! Your life is balanced and you get to do and have it all. Queue the peaceful music as you find this Zen-like life of balance.


Balance is difficult to achieve because the concept itself has inherent flaws. How does one find two things that are different, yet weigh the exact same amount? Even a tiny bit more or less weight on one side will make the scales fall out of alignment.

What weighs more? Consider placing some of these things on opposite sides of the scale:

  • Time with your kids or getting a product shipped
  • Hitting the gym or getting to the office sooner
  • Working at night from home or getting some sleep
  • Date night with your significant other or late night at the office
  • Service opportunity or time with your team

In my mind, none of these things weighs equally the same as its counterpart. While it can be close, it is never exactly identical in weight, and, by definition, the scale must be out of balance. This is why entrepreneurs should consider the concept of a basket instead of scale.

Instead of thinking about your personal life and work life like a scale that needs to be balanced, think of them as a basket that needs to be woven. Each piece of the basket is a strand of life. One piece that is intertwined is your business. Another is your family. Yet another is your health. Hopefully you get the picture. Notice that each weave on the basket is touching another. Notice that they wind in and out and overlap. Like water, the demands of life always seem to find the holes and weak spots of our figurative basket. In order for the basket to truly hold its contents, the fit must be tight!

While I still struggle mightily with this, the tightly woven basket seems a good representation of a well-rounded life.

Need to work? Work hard.

Want to play? Play with reckless abandon.

Spending time with your family? Do it.

Going to stay at the office late? Make it worth it.

Kids need a little league coach? Volunteer.

Out of shape? Exercise.

Sleep deprived? Stop it. Get to bed.

With the basket concept, most of this can happen simultaneously. Do your best not to use work as an excuse to avoid family, friends and exercise.

Prior to coming to Weber State I was an entrepreneur for a long time. I found it very difficult to make choices that were good for my health. Over the years, I gradually became an overweight, under-slept and over-stressed person who ate poorly, never exercised and rarely pursued hobbies outside of work. My justification was that sleep was for the weak or the dead. Ultimately, this lifestyle led to back surgery that brought my life to a screeching halt. This was my wake up call.

Since that time, I’ve made a concerted effort to exercise, sleep more and recreate enough to help lower my weight and eliminate blood pressure medications. This has led to a strong overall improvement of my physical and mental health, both of which positively impact my overall energy levels. The ROI of this effort, measured as an ability to “basket weave” my family and work lives, has been extremely high.

Finally, it is important to note that it’s a good idea to sometimes put the technology away and focus on family. You have to do it. The basket concept is not a license to pay less attention to your spouse, or work when you should be with your kids. You have to use your brain and your gut to make sure you aren’t allowing your business to always be No. 1. The basket can’t leak! Weave it all together in a healthy, shared way.

With practice, time and discipline you can weave it all together in a healthy, shared way. As an entrepreneur, it’s a never-ending effort. But keep at it and perhaps you’ll find that elusive balance you sought in the first place.

Alex Lawrence is vice provost and visiting professor in entrepreneurship at Weber State University. He can be reached via or at

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