Bracing for balance

By on September 12, 2013

In today’s fast-paced world, most successful people you talk to would say that they would love more of one thing – balance. The challenge with achieving this balance is that balance, by definition, is about maintaining a state of equilibrium where things are stable and unchanging. People who want more balance in their lives and work don’t want things to stay the same, they want them to change. More balance to most means having more time and/or money to spend on health, family, hobbies, relaxation, or moving a dream forward. Unfortunately, their lives are already “balanced” in a state of equilibrium that doesn’t allow for these pursuits. You already have balance. What you really want is more energy, joy, vitality, success and fulfillment – you want to thrive! In order to achieve this, you need to learn how to shift the balance.

I came across the perfect explanation for shifting the balance and learning to thrive when I had to get braces at thirty-seven due to a freak accident where I got hit in the face while meditating (yes, while meditating!). After taking pictures and molds of my teeth, he explained the process I would be going through over the next year with my braces like this:

“Except for the recent injury” he said, “your teeth are currently in perfect equilibrium. Even though your bite is not optimal and your teeth are not perfectly straight they have achieved their own balance and stability. Once we begin moving things around, this balance will be upset and the changes will need to be monitored closely to ensure that movement is occurring in the desired direction. We won’t know exactly how the other teeth will shift in response to shifting the ones we need to at the front. Sometimes it will seem that we are undoing something that we just did, but don’t worry. As long as we have a clear picture of where we started and a clear vision of the end result we want to create, we will keep fine-tuning until eventually we reach the goal. For this reason, the time estimate I am giving you for the complete process may not be 100% accurate, but based on my experience and barring any unforeseen difficulties, it will not be too far off. You will experience some pain and discomfort during the process as your teeth move but the worst of this will be at the early stages when the movement is greatest. Once you are finished you will need to wear a retainer of some kind for several years and possibly for life to prevent your teeth from moving back to their original position.”

Braces provide the perfect illustration of how to build your capacity to thrive in all areas of your life and work.

Here are the nine core principles of shifting the balance and learning to thrive:

Every element of your life and work is already in balance, even though you may not like where it is balanced at.
Changing anything causes everything else to shift (whether you want it to or not, and in ways that you may not want it to).
To succeed, you need to have a clear vision of where you are and where you want to go.
You must constantly refer to your vision along the way to fine-tune your strategies for reaching it.
You need to exert constant energy and/or pressure using the appropriate skills, knowledge and tools to shift from point A to point B.
Making the shift will be uncomfortable – especially at first.
You can’t predict how long it will take to reach your goal or how it will look in between.
You will need systems, tools and habits to maintain the new state of equilibrium once you get there or you will revert back to your previous state of equilibrium.
You need to have trust, confidence and belief in the person who is in charge of orchestrating the shift.

It is this last point that makes the process of shifting from your current state of balance to a new state of thriving most difficult. With my braces, I was 100% confident that the orthodontist knew what he was doing. He had worked with thousands of patients and had a proven track record of getting great results.

In your life, you are likely to have had more experience with not getting the results you desire. The reason for this is that most people don’t understand the above principles. Once you understand that balance is working against you, that you need to exert effort to overcome this balance, that it is going to be chaotic along the way, and that you can’t predict how long it will take to reach your goal, it becomes easier to persist because you to see the pain and the mess as signs of progress rather than signs of failure.

I wish you all success in shifting out of balance and into thriving in your life and work. I will be posting more detail on each of the principles and how to apply them to on my blog at in the coming month so please visit, comment and share your own experiences.

About Andrea Jacques

Andrea Jacques is the founder of Kyosei Consulting and the author of Wabi-Sabi Wisdom: Inspiration for an Authentic Life (available on She has spent more than 20 years developing the potential of people and businesses worldwide, five of which were in Japan. A dynamic speaker, coach, and facilitator, her work integrates spiritual insight with top-tier leadership, wellness and sustainability consulting to help individuals and organizations build thriving, purpose-driven cultures where employees know their work truly matters. She can be contacted through her website at