Anything that reveals why people do what they do, or what moves us to act or not, fascinates me. That’s why reading or listening to motivational or success authors and/or speakers is something I’ve done most of my adult life. Sure some resources are better than others, but I always manage to learn at least one new thing that benefits my thinking, my perceptions, and hopefully my life. That’s why when I was offered a review copy of a new book by longtime author and speaker Brian Tracy, I said yes. Without a doubt the title intrigued me: Find Your Balance Point—Clarify Your Priorities, Simplify Your Life, and Achieve More. Doesn’t that sound SMART to you, too?
Of course I must confess I was skeptical. Brain Tracy has never been high on my list. While I never found his material objectionable—other speakers and authors seem to share similar information in a deeper, more interesting and dynamic way. But this time his book is co-authored with his daughter Christina Stein, and it carries both a great title and an enticing synopsis. With the caveat that I only provide honest reviews, I accepted the offer.
As background, the prolific Tracy has authored over 72 books (and he’s only 71!) as well as narrated over five hundred audio and learning programs that are available in 38 languages. Traveling the world speaking at hundreds of corporate events, his demand in the business world is legendary. Regardless of what I generally think of his material, absolutely no doubt remains that his popularity is impressive. And as an author, I fully appreciate the vast number of people he touches and inspires with his work.
On this project, Tracy and Stein have created a sort of commentary on issues that many of us struggle with while attempting to create a happy life. After reading this short book, here are what I found to be most interesting and thought-provoking.
- According to Tracy and Stein, each of us has a balance point where we feel in perfect harmony, grounded, happy, connected to others, and where our mind, body and spirit are in alignment. As Tracy and Stein say, your balance point is when “You feel at one with the universe.” While I’ve never thought about it exactly this way, I agree.
- Similar to living what I define as a SMART life, a balanced life is central our happiness and well-being. Finding it helps us avoid lives filled with too much to do, and feeling we have too little time to do it. On the other hand, having “false balance” throws people into addictions and over-consumption.
- Unfortunately, there is no magic pill or quick-fix. Finding and maintaining our balance point takes time and effort.
- Awareness and self-reflection are necessary for finding and maintaining our balance point. Tracy and Stein call this “clarity” and remind us that is essential in order to focus on and set our priorities.
- The authors are convinced that in order to arrive at your balance point you must be absolutely clear about your values. What are values? Stein and Tracy believe that values are the motivations that drive your beliefs, attitudes and actions.
- Tracy and Stein paraphrase two popular and powerful sayings that are good to remember. They say, “…you become what you think about most of the time,” and, “you don’t believe what you see, you see what you already believe.”
- Who you hang out with matters. Tracy and Stein boldly state that, “Fully 85 percent of your happiness will be determined by having the right people in your life.” While I too tend to believe this is true, I really wish they could have provided a reference behind this claim.
- We all need meaning and purpose to live a happy and fulfilled life. According to Tracy and Stein, “Each person craves connection to others. Creating something that helps people or providing a service of some kind is one of the best ways to feel connected to something bigger than yourself.”
- Stein and Tracy say, “In almost every study of successful, happy people, the acceptance of personal responsibility seems to be the starting point of a person’s success.” And just as a reminder, the “R” in SMART stands for “Responsible.” That means that while we might not be able to control the universe or events in our lives, we are always response-able for our own actions and re-actions.
- Like the authors, I agree that it’s critical to stop doing things that take away our joy and satisfaction, and instead organize our lives around those things that bring us peace, satisfaction, joy and value. Their statement, time management is really “life management” deserves to be remembered.
- I repeatedly say on SMART Living 365 that, “Everyday we can choose to be happy, loving and live life to its fullest—remember, we get to make it up.” Tracy and Stein say something similar with, “You will be happy only when your choices and your activities are in harmony with your values and beliefs and with what is really important to you.
- I thought the author’s idea of “KWINK” is a clever way to review our day. It asks, “Knowing what I now know, is there anything I would not start doing again if I had the opportunity to start again today?” If there is, make a different choice!
- We live our lives either by accident, or by design. What are you designing today?
Naturally Tracy and Stein include some helpful exercises and questions to help readers learn to clarify values and explore what is most important in our lives. Although somewhat repetitive, it’s an easy read. And about the only thing I didn’t care for was how the authors attempted to blend cutting-edge ideas about what’s most important in life, simple living, and essentialism into a mixture with old-fashioned ideas like achieving more, goal setting, productivity, and time management. Some of it worked, but some seemed just a bit off. Then again, that just might be the best way to introduce newer ideas to a whole new audience. After all, it’s difficult to guess where, when and how a person will suddenly start realizing that life is so much more than how much money you make, what you own, and other exterior ideas that keep us from living a happy, fulfilled and yes “balanced” life. In the end, if you stick with it, there’s a good chance that finding your balance point will lead to a SMART Life.
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