I wear many hats. I’m a husband and a father. I am a business owner and a personal trainer. I’m a musician, an artist, a nutrition coach, a martial arts instructor…the list goes on, but you get the point.
Over time, I’ve achieved competencies in each of these areas. I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered any of them by any means. But I get so much joy from being able to serve others through the skills I’ve developed while growing into my many hats.
Early in life, I began to develop my talents as an artist. But by the time I reached adulthood, I wanted to learn something different. Every few years, I would seek a new challenge. I would immerse myself in something and not look back.
The best thing about being a renaissance man is the perspective to see a common thread running through all these different experiences. Developing yourself as an artist isn’t much different from trying to become a better father, or even getting in better shape. In the end, they all come back to the same principle: moderation.
Years ago I spent a lot of time studying philosophy and religion. When I discovered Buddhism, there was a particular story that put everything I’d been reading into a singular perspective. The story put into words how I’ve been able to wear so many hats, and it has proven to be the most important rule I try to live by.
The story goes: Buddha had tried to achieve his personal enlightenment by starving himself of worldly things. He was living off as little as possible and meditating for excruciating lengths of time. His path was an extreme one.
One day, as Buddha was meditating under a tree, a music teacher and his student passed by. Teaching his student how to tune a stringed instrument the teacher said “If the string is too tight it will break. If it is too loose it won’t play.”
Upon hearing this, Buddha arose from his extreme meditation, found food and water, and began his teaching of what became known as The Middle Way.
I apply this principle to my own fitness practice. If I work out too much, I will get injured. If I work out too little, I will become stiff and tired. If I practice yoga too much, I lose contractile strength. If concentrate only on weightlifting, I lose mobility. The dynamic effects of this necessary balance can be applied across the many varied pursuits in my life.
Psychologically, if I’m too hard or too lax with myself (or my kids) something will break down and backfire. Strategically, if I’m trying to grow my business too fast it will fail, and my home life will suffer. Artistically, if I don’t push from my diaphragm hard enough the notes will fall flat when I sing.
Too much can be the same thing as too little. It takes constant reflection and adjusting to get better at tuning the strings in our life. I still hit a lot of bad notes, but I keep my hand on the tuning peg.
In the end our life is like music. Some lives are heavy metal, some lives are classical, some are reggae and so on. But no matter what the style everyone in the band knows the value of being in tune – with themselves and each other.