Terry C. Young, PhD

At mid-life one of our greatest challenges is figuring out how to gain fresh perspective. For many of us, the swirl of work, family and our chaotic world feels like a dance-a-thon where the music never stops.  This is where the balcony comes in.

In Never Blink in A Thunderstorm, David McKenna provides this challenge, ‘Never Lead Without A Balcony.’  It is his way of framing a simple yet vital discipline that every leader must develop – the discipline of taking time to thoughtfully, prayerfully, and critically discern the larger movements in one’s life and leadership context.

Ronald Heifetz, echoes the need for the balcony in his work, Leadership on The Line.  He points out how easy it is to get caught up by the whirl of everyday action, particularly in the face of more and more adaptive challenges.  We get captivated by the motion on the dance floor and quickly lose all sense of the wider movements in our life and work in the world. His advice – get on the balcony!

So how do we “get on the balcony?”  How do we actually get above the fray and see the bigger picture?  The balcony discipline involves a few simple steps:

  1. Block out time every week for getting perspective on the overall picture of your life and leadership. Get away to a coffee shop or a quiet spot if this will help you focus better.
  2. Create and maintain a one-or-two-page summary of your entire life enterprise. Think about the present domains and initiatives under your care, and the make-up of your family and team.  List the people who are near and dear to you and your purpose in the world.
  3. Brood over this current reality. Ask two questions:  What business am I in (truly)?  How is business? (Credit goes to Peter Drucker for these two simple yet life changing questions) Pray over these questions. Take time to look beyond the waves of this week or month or season and learn to pay attention to longer term issues, needs and opportunities.
  4. Lay out a few strengthening or improvement strategies. What is the priority/immediate need? What will be my next step(s)?  Be specific and time focused on how and when these strategies will unfold.

The ‘balcony discipline’ is a life giver, a leadership multiplier, a ministry strengthener, and a family changer.  Never live or lead without a balcony!  Comment below on how you have learned to practice a form of ‘the balcony’ in your own context:

Terry Young is a part of the CREST Leadership Team and helps facilitate the annual CREST MCL experience.

If you want to learn more about how the CREST experience can turbo charge your weekly balcony discipline check out the CREST Certificate and the CREST capstone experience called Master in Christian Leadership. Your balcony will never be the same.