Home » Off-Balance On Purpose: The Future of Engagement and Work-Life Balance by Dan Thurmon

Off-Balance On Purpose: The Future of Engagement and Work-Life Balance by Dan Thurmon

Dan Thurmon at TEDxPSU

Following is the full transcript of dynamic keynote speaker and author Dan Thurmon’s talk titled “Off Balance On Purpose: The Future of Engagement and Work-Life Balance” at TEDxPSU conference.

Dan Thurmon  – TEDx Talk TRANSCRIPT

Today let’s talk about balance, from a little bit of a different perspective. You should see it from this side.

Life balance is a concept that is intriguing and desirable, and also completely unrealistic.

I mean even now look up here, and you’ll see I’m not balanced. I’m constantly making adjustments and corrections to protect myself on this precarious platform, and after all this work, after all this effort, I haven’t really gone anywhere. I’m still in the same place.

You see folks, we’re engaged in the art, the process of balancing throughout our life, which is making those adjustments, making decisions, making corrections over time, responding to opportunities and challenges.

But balance is something you never attain, and yet you’ve been told that this is the ultimate goal, the ultimate purpose, to achieve life, balance.

I Googled life balance this morning, and there were 367 million results. Think of that. 367 million ideas or observations or opinions on how you can attain the unattainable.

And so we beat ourselves up in pursuit of this idea of balance, thinking that if we work hard enough, or smart enough, or long enough, that we can get to this moment where it all evens out.

And I’m here to tell you it isn’t going to happen. You will never achieve perfect balance. And along the way, we beat ourselves up with the guilt, and we restrict our opportunities.

And the pursuit of balance I think actually is a negative impact on our lives. So I want to liberate you from that today with a new philosophy, a new approach. And I encourage you not to live your lives on balance, but rather off balance on purpose, off balance on purpose.

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Because off-balance is your reality. That’s a good thing. You have to be off balance in order to learn, in order to grow, in order to love or serve others, or improve yourself in any meaningful way.

The question is are you off balance in response to your world, or are you off balance on purpose, deliberate, intentional, and connected to a sense of meaning, purpose, mission, that you bring to what you do every single day?

I mean that’s what causes change for yourself, for your family, your community for your world.

Purpose. The greatest organizations, and the most effective individuals are those that have learned to harness the power of purpose, and leverage that for amazing results.

And in that respect, while that handstand is a model for remaining and maintaining at the status quo, and our off-balance on purpose change transformation would be more like a backflip, you know, launching yourself into uncertainty when you can’t even necessarily see where you’re going with energy, with commitment, and with drive. Yeah.


Well thank you.

This may surprise you, but when I first learned to — when I was 11 years old and I was exploring these ideas, I was what they called a hyperactive kid. No, I’m totally serious.

And it was at that age I found purpose in an unlikely place. It was at the King Richard’s Renaissance Faire in Bristol, Wisconsin, when I watched a juggler. I saw his act 6 times in a row, this guy was amazing. His name’s Mike Vondruska.

And after the last show of the day he had noticed I had been there, and he said, “Kid, would you like to learn to juggle?” Sometimes we find purpose, you see, when others take an interest in us, and give us an opportunity to grow. I wanted to succeed as much for his belief in me as for my own benefit.

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And when I engaged the process, I loved it. I remember that moment when it finally clicked in with 3 balls, and felt amazing.

But almost immediately a new question came to mind. What was that? Of course, well how do I do 4? I am obviously so ready.

So I got the fourth ball, and I tried it, but I tried it the same way I knew how to do 3. They collided, they hit the ground, it was a disaster.

And I went back to my mentor frustrated the next weekend, and I said “Mike, what’s going on?”

He said, “Dan listen, when you add the fourth ball, you need to learn a new pattern.”

You see throughout life we engage patterns, patterns of thinking, patterns of action, patterns of interaction with others. We experiment. We find what works, and then we protect it, we defend it against everything else.

And you know what? If we want to grow beyond our abilities, we have to transcend our current patterns.

What Mike showed me is that when the balls cross with 3 balls, it’s not the same with 4. With even numbers you hold them a little longer. There’s actually 2 on that side, 2 on this side.

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