What Intentional Balance Means to Me (and to TMG)

Post 1 of 6 in a series explaining The Mainspring Group’s Core Values and Purpose. 

It’s been about 2 years since I made the decision to prioritize balance for myself and my family above everything else. I thought I was getting along well enough, with a self-care routine in place. I had a solid partnership at home, and the money was good. So what’s the big deal with working as much as it takes to deliver?

"As much as it takes to deliver" was slowly crushing me

Well… the big deal is “as much as it takes to deliver” was slowly crushing me. I’ve come to understand that what I was experiencing is often labeled as ‘toxic productivity,’ a term that’s becoming better understood. But I know we all have people in our life that brag about the number of hours they work. As if the best measure of success is time away from home… I was never an 80-hours-a-week-guy, but I had all the symptoms of burnout – headaches, fatigue, no appetite, restless sleep. My quality of life wasn’t lining up with the vision I had of myself as “getting along well enough.”

So, I had a conversation with my partner, Megan. We agreed it would be better to lose the home we had just spent years saving for and live in the smallest, affordable space than to continue straining under our current lifestyle. It was time to leave the job, and not just that particular job, but any role of similar significance and impact. I had been pushing too hard for too long and I needed a break, we felt certain that would cost us a lot of material progress in our life together.

The funny thing is once I prioritized balance in my life things just kind of came together.

A friend was managing a new fancy cocktail bar opening in my town (mixology had always been a hobby and passion of mine that I’d never had a chance to try my hand at professionally), a company that helped me start my career agreed to carve out some side work that I could manage at a reasonable pace and help them clean some messes up no one had time for, and … most notably, my long-term colleague and friend Matt Collins, began laying the groundwork for what would become The Mainspring Group, where I now serve as the Operations Lead.

Things tend to work out.

Things Tend to Work Out

At The Mainspring Group we take balance seriously. It’s our first core value, and arguably the central theme of our firm. To create balance for ourselves and our clients – we call it Intentional Balance. The word Intentional is really the one carrying the weight. Without being intentional about how we think about and maintain balance it becomes what a former boss used to call a “glittering generality.” At TMG we aren’t about glittering generalities, we’re about self-knowledge and living our values with pride and efficacy.

So what does that look like?

Well, for the folks that are full time with TMG, we work to operationalize how we accomplish Intentional Balance for everyone on the team. This looks different for each team member, because of course, each team member is different. The core idea is that we engage in direct conversation with each member of the team on a quarterly basis and talk about what balance looks like in their life.

For myself, my primary balance metric is whether or not I had enough mental capacity and carved out time to produce creative work for one of my several artistic projects. If I have enough time to produce and release good creative work, it means I was balanced both in time and energy. This makes it really easy to point to the result and know if I hit the mark or not.

We record the results of these balance conversations and surveys in our company scorecard. These are actual metrics that we spend time developing, maintaining, and working together to improve – they are on the same scorecard as our revenue, as our subscriber count, as our client NPS results. This is what INTENTIONAL Balance looks like inside TMG.


When people aren't living balanced lives they tend to burn out over time

It doesn’t stop there for us though. The Mainspring Group’s Purpose, our reason to exist, is Winding up Potential. Really, we think that creating an environment of Intentional Balance is one of the primary and most effective ways of Winding up Potential. When people aren’t living balanced lives they tend to burn out over time. That A player you hired? They are a B minus at best in year 2 or 3 when burnout is starting to set in. Do you want to replace your people every few years or focus on creating an environment where they can thrive?

When we work with our consulting services clients the details are often a little different, but the direction never is. We seek to help prevent the preventable and reoccurring problems that are getting in the way of the front-line operators on the team. You hired good people, you’re trusting them to do great work, but they keep spinning their wheels dealing with the same fires from week to week and month to month. We can quickly identify the sources of the recurring problems and either light the path for the team to do the fixes themselves, or really kick things into high gear by sprinting our way through the cleanup process returning a much more usable ERP system.

This isn’t a pitch – it’s a description of how we live our value of Intentional Balance. We want your team focused on their areas of highest contribution – we know when they are making an impact instead of fighting a repetitive fire, they’ll be delivering better work, feeling more confident and fulfilled, and probably having a better life outside of work as well.

Thanks for coming along for the ride as we share a little bit of what makes us tick. If you want to learn about the ways we can help add balance for your team, don’t hesitate to reach out.