Off Balance, On Purpose

Off Balance, On Purpose


I read a lot of investment and financial planning literature, and I brightened up in November when I read a brief summary of Dan Thurmon’s new book, Off Balance On Purpose— Embrace Uncertainty and Create a Life You Love. Dan is a peak performance coach, author and professional speaker. I have not read his book, but I am inspired by his title.

What Does It Mean to You?

I have developed a sensibility that says it is more important for me to understand what words and concepts mean to me than it is to fully understand what they mean to someone else. I don’t mean that this is always true for me, but it certainly is in this case. Dan wrote his title with no punctuation: Off Balance On Purpose. From what I have gleaned from his website, he does not pursue balance at all. Dan and I both agree that purpose is more important than balance. For Dan, we have to be off balance in order to grow as human beings. Balance is about having equal weight and time devoted to the most important areas of your life: relationships, career, health, spirituality and personal interests. I think we would all agree that it is just not realistic for us to always give these five areas equal time and balance.

Off Balance, On Purpose

While giving full credit to Dan Thurmon, I am writing my article about his concept with punctuation: Off Balance, On Purpose because this has special meaning to me. Just as Dan asserts that it is impossible to achieve perfect balance at all times, I think it is unrealistic to dismiss balance altogether. I have come too close in my life to a serious burnout because their have been periods when I have been so driven and so off balance that I had to pull back and seek help to recover myself. I had to stop and restore some balance, or I would not survive.

For Dan Thurmon, balance is about comfort and control. In your life today, how comfortable are you, and how much are you in control? What about the economy? What about your political vision for the U.S. and the world? Dan concludes that life itself is off balance so balance is unrealistic to pursue.

My Weekends On Purpose

I am on purpose this weekend, right now. It is 8 p.m. on Saturday night and I am not watching the New Orleans Saints play the Detroit Lions. I feel much more deeply satisfied writing on purpose than I would be watching football. I will sleep tonight in a mood of satisfaction because I did this work, which I thoroughly enjoy.

I was on purpose another weekend many years ago. Out of college for a year or so I was still working in the food service industry, which is how I had put myself through college and where I had received a lot of on-the-job restaurant training in jobs from dishwasher to dinner chef. With a BA in English, my intention–purpose–was to pursue a career in publishing. I realized one day that I had better get to it or my intended career might get derailed. Once I finally got a weekend off, I spent 16 hours on Saturday and 16 hours on Sunday being on purpose.

36 Resumes

I found 36 California publishing companies and sent out 36 hand-typed and customized resumes and cover letters that weekend, a very labor-intensive project particularly as this was long before personal computers and home printers. By Monday morning, I had finished my life-saving project over a memorable and decidedly off-balanced weekend. Being on purpose I find to be far more significant and memorable than being balanced. There’s a bumper sticker I see every day in our building’s parking lot: “Well-Behaved Women Seldom Make History. ”Mis-behaving, too, can be a way of being off balance, on purpose.


On that memorable weekend, my friends had wanted me to go to the park to play touch football and then go out drinking. I wouldn’t remember or be writing about that weekend if I had chosen that option. I received one call and got one job from those 36 resumes, and that one job improved my career trajectory forever. I was introduced to mainframe data processing, which ultimately opened the door to my career as an investment professional. I received management training and became the director of two departments, which in many ways contributed to my being able to start Bell Investment Advisors.

For Dan Thurmon and me, being on purpose is about achieving significance. Balance is more about comfort. My purpose right now is to continue building and developing Bell Investment Advisors and to devote the rest of my time and love to my family (we are welcoming our second Berkeley grandchild in February). Trips to Europe and the tropics don’t call to me right now. I know my purpose, and I embrace it gladly even if I have to balance on one leg.

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