Harmony vs. Balance

performance coaching modelI had lunch recently with a business consultant colleague, Jim Owens, and we discussed his new book 40 Lessons in Leadership. Prior to his current consulting and authoring efforts, Owens served as a North Alabama Area Executive for FirstBank.

He now leads Performance Strategies Group helping organizations and individuals sharpen their sales skills and processes, build more productive teams, and equip leaders with the skills and resilience they need. 

Since we both have business owners and leadership team members as clients, we had a very productive discussion on how to more effectively help entrepreneurs and business owners. Our discussion gravitated toward business challenges in this competitive environment and the topic of balance.

Jim discussed his thoughts on the subject of harmony versus balance, and he also shared with me the above graphic. He uses the graphic to support his guidance on this interesting topic. Below is a short Q&A session we had on his recent book and his thoughts on harmony versus balance.


Jay: As you know, Jim, we first met when you were a Senior Loan Officer at a major bank in our area. So what led you to leave banking and go into business consulting and writing?

Jim: I’ve always wanted to do this.  For many years, I’ve done a lot of speaking on the topics of leadership, sales effectiveness, and just being a more purposeful person.  For the last fifteen years or more, my banking career was largely about helping people become more productive personally and professionally, so early this year, I just decided to take the leap and expect the net to appear.  

Jay: What’s the most valuable piece of business advice you have ever been given? 

Jim: I will borrow something from Henry David Thoreau here.  He said, “Be resolutely and faithfully what you are.”  I haven’t always said it that way, but it’s a concise way of making the point that the best way to business and life success is to be yourself.  That isn’t permission, of course, to be a jerk.  At least not the way I interpret it.  

Jay: Having read your 40 Lessons in Leadership book, I noticed it is written almost as a reference book on leadership, in which the reader can go to the table of contents and find topics of interest, rather than necessarily reading it cover to cover. Was that your intent and what feedback have you received from readers?

Jim: That’s right.  I wrote it as if it was a series of brief chats with people about a menagerie of leadership-related topics.  I wanted it to be something people could read easily, not have to go through every chapter in order, and then apply the principles in it to their own lives.  People have been kind and encouraging about it.  A friend who is a professor at Arizona State University said it’s the best book on leadership he’s ever read.  But like I said, he’s a friend.  So he’s probably biased!

Jay: As we were talking at lunch, the term “balance” came up and you mentioned that you had been developing some business coaching topics around the thought of “harmony” being equally if not more important than “balance” in business leadership. Can you expand on that and share what triggered your thinking on the subject?

Jim: I’ve had trouble with the concept of balance.  It implies a tipping back and forth on that little thing we all played on as kids.  A teeter-totter or see-saw.  Those things were bouncy.  Uncomfortable.  Over the years, I figured out I wanted more harmony among my physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional life that I could look at as a whole.  It seems to resonate with people.  

Jay: I’ve studied your above graphic that’s entitled “Performance Coaching Model.” How do you use it to explain your concept of harmony versus balance?

Jim: It’s something people almost immediately connect with. When I ask them if they feel like there is harmony within their own life, just about everyone says they’d like more—to make changes in their personal and business lives and organizations.  I tell them you really only have four options in life to make the changes you want to make.  You can do more, less, better, or different things.  That dialogue becomes the launching pad for their business planning and personal growth.  

Jay: If you could only say one thing to a person who’s about to launch a business, what would it be?

Jim: It’s pretty simple.  You’re going to be afraid. Make a plan but learn to be comfortable with uncertainty.  Then take the leap.  


My thanks to Jim for sharing his thoughts in this blog. If you have any questions or comments, share them with us below.