Balance, 2014

We used to talk about work/life balance — a lot. Nowadays, work/life integration is the phrase in vogue, and I use and prefer it too, particularly when we talk of striving for that sweet spot where working with Aloha meets living with Aloha and we are at our best, sustaining a livelihood that nourishes our sense of personal well-being.

Yet ‘balance’ hasn’t slipped completely out of our vocabulary.

I find that ‘balance’ will often enter our conversations today, pertaining to one situation in particular: Achieving a balance of attention between two worlds most of us will occupy these days ~ the ‘real world’ and the ‘virtual world.’

There’s an in-person us, and the 2014 screen-seen us, e.g. in social media and other publishing or ‘status updating,’ and we wonder about our presence in each of them, and our credibility with each one.

New Balance by Thomas Hawk

All of this, is about what we pay attention to, and when.

I’d love for us to speak of integration in these situations too, or better yet, of alignment. However I can understand why balance is the word that fits; people may not want to integrate or align them at all, and they are happy with having the separation with exists. We may prefer to keep them separated, at least until we can better investigate the drawbacks and benefits of each one:

Balance Scale: Yes, please. 
Prevailing rule: No jumping from one dish to the other.

Venn Diagram: Hmm… 
Prevailing rule: Push farther into that integrating intersection as much as you can, so the circles overlap more and more. Oh. No thank you.

Is there a right answer here? Depends on who we’re talking about. I don’t think we can get up on our high horse and proclaim we must have more authenticity and realness, without knowing about the value-drivers in place, and a person’s reasons for their choices. It may, for instance, be a case where a person’s ‘screen time’ — blogging, tumbling, ‘gramming, tweeting, and making other updates, or just playing with apps, and lurking in certain online communities — is about learning, or research, and they reserve what they consider to be their ‘real life time’ for their conversations and true engagement.

And there’s the rub for the Alaka‘i Manager when it comes to the workplace; discerning what his or her team’s value drivers are.

Values essentially do two things for us: They define our WHY and they give us a HOW-TO.

Those two things don’t always go together, and when they do, the result is very, very powerful. To start with your WHY is to begin all efforts with your personal truth about something, to start with its “good sense.” To proceed, and take action with a HOW-TO connected to your WHY, is to honor your personal truth.
~ Let’s Define Values

I will say this: It’s much, much easier to do diagnostics on values (necessary when people won’t simply speak up and tell you what they are) when you’re dealing with the real world — i.e. where the communication cues you see, hear, or otherwise sense, are emanating from a human being standing before you in flesh and blood. You’re occupying the same space and time, with Sense of Place to help you, and you can ask questions, to be sure your understanding of whatever they wish to convey is complete. You can ask how you can help; how they hope you’ll respond. You can ask for their help too, and for their partnership, so you’re not going it alone.

Though it may not seem like it at times, real life, and in-person engagement is also much easier to keep up with. Technology flits and zooms wildly, and we can no longer count on generational distinctions; they have become faulty stereotypes.

So what to do?

You cannot engage (i.e. manage well) when someone isn’t paying attention to you. And you need their attention first, for Aloha-valued intention second.

That balance scale with separate dishes is about attention-filtering, whereas that venn diagram is about intention-movement, to widen one’s circle of comfort, and/or circle of influence.

Rest assured: Creating an with Aloha workplace atmosphere will trump technology’s early adopter/ late adopter flare-ups every single time. Everyone prefers real world warmth when it is readily available, and welcomes them in; it’s our nature as human beings and not cyborgs.

Create a Sense of Place:

Create a workplace where you help people speak up, so they will tell you about that balancing act within their attentions, and so they move toward engagement.

Make it safe, and make it comfortable — comforting even, pleasant and warm — for people to be their real selves with you, to want to be in-person with you as the best place they can be.

We call it that place of ALOHA. It’s a good place. For balance, for integration, for being content and satisfied. Set a place for Aloha at every table you sit at, and no one will look for a balance scale dish to jump into instead.

Related coaching for Alaka‘i Managers:


Think “working in my neighborhood” for no culture exists in a vacuum. Sense of Place is both the feel OF a place, and the feel FOR a place. Sense of Place is about greater community locally and connectivity globally. It is saying a “thank you” with stewardship, and engaging at a higher level with those places which have gotten you this far, and continue to nourish you daily in a multitude of tiny ways that collectively are absolutely HUGE factors in your success. It is giving back, recognizing that place nurtures and sustains us; it shapes our experiences and lends cultural richness to life. Always will.

Site category for Key 8: Sense of Place

Read more: The 9 Key Concepts of Managing with Aloha and The 9 Key Concepts — Why these 9?

Coaching Assignment:

Open your self-coaching journal, and write-to-learn, so you can figure out your first move in creating a better Sense of Place within your workplace:

    1. Write a short paragraph which describes what your workplace Sense of Place feels like now. Be honest: Tell it like it is. This is for your eyes only.
    2. Describe your currently prevailing workplace balance scale of attention (it may not be about screens and social media at all, but about something else.) It may be helpful to think about what your people are most interested in learning, for you want to recognize that there are both good attentions, and not-so-good ones. Recognize those times that are simply for play, and sort out where beneficial play belongs in your workplace.
    3. Draw a simple venn diagram with just 2 or 3 circles, and use it to describe the engagement and intention movement you want more of, i.e. begin with the end in mind.

Here is one example:

What will be your next move? Once again, the objective is to create a warm and welcoming Sense of Place where those circles overlap, so people feel drawn there, moving their individual intentions in that direction. If you get stumped or overwhelmed, this can help: Next-stepping and other Verbs.

About Rosa Say

Rosa is the author of Managing with Aloha. She’s a writer and photo-taker, a workplace culture coach, and a zealous advocate of managers everywhere. She’s a wife and mom, sister and daughter, manager, leader and worker bee, living the best life she can, just like you. Learn more about Rosa at


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