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Based on Ron Manners’ after-dinner comments to the annual dinner of The Chamber of Minerals & Energy of W.A. Inc., The Hannans Club, Kalgoorlie, October 19, 2001. Published as, “Achieving Balance in Our Lives (Perhaps we can have too much balance?),” from Ron Manners’ Heroic Misadventures: Four Decades – Full Circle (West Perth, Australia: Mannwest Group, 2009), pp. 181-84. The 18MB bookmarked PDF ebook is here. The website for the book is More on Ron Manners at and

Balancing the various priorities (mostly other people’s priorities) can be enough to fill our day. How easy it is to become confused between sundry duties to others (grouped together as society).

Let’s look at two quotations:

Duties are not performed for duties’ sake, but because their neglect would make the man uncomfortable. A man performs but one duty — the duty of contenting his spirit, the duty of making himself agreeable to himself.
— Mark Twain

Society is joint action and cooperation in which each participant sees the other partner’s success as a means for the attainment of his own.
—Ludwig von Mises

In our pursuit of happiness, let us indulge in excess to the point where we become “notoriously happy”.

Nothing is balanced about happiness and we are certainly not much good to anyone else unless we cultivate our own “notorious happiness”.

Philosopher Ayn Rand got it right when she coined the phrase “rational selfishness”, best demonstrated by the airline in-flight announcement: “In the event of loss of oxygen, mothers should firstly go for the face mask and then they will be in a position to help their children.”

Rational selfishness is the opposite to “self-destructive altruism”.

Several years ago I thought about “balance in our lives” when attending the funeral of my Uncle Bill (89 years old) where his son Garry, in the eulogy, described Bill’s job satisfaction at being the horse racing writer for the Sunday Times for so many years.

Old Bill once said, “I must be the luckiest man in the world to be paid to go to the races.”

If we are paid for doing what we love doing, there’s not much chance of us being out of balance in our careers.

However, the balance in our home lives is perhaps the greatest challenge of all, due to our ladies being programmed with an entirely different set of priorities.

We know when we are in balance in our careers, but for the family end, this needs input from someone far wiser than myself.

Actually, I met someone of such superior wisdom recently, sitting alongside me on a plane.

When I asked her what she did for a living she replied, “I bring balance to the lives of people like you.” After further interrogation she admitted to being a “fully participating sex therapist”, providing a select group of men with warmth and passion which they were no longer receiving in their, otherwise normal, marriages.

Among the memorable thoughts she left with me was, “You guys create your own problems with your focus on time management, slotting in an hour for so many specific tasks. Your wives can’t handle it on that basis, but it suits me.”

Perhaps this inspired me to pen the following poem:

Dining Well?

Marriage is simply not a menu
in this restaurant of life.
In this complex task of professionalism
that we often call husband and wife.

We can’t just tick a few
selected items here and there,
and always expect the weather
to remain warm and fair.

It’s a well rounded challenge,
that we need to aim for
if a marriage is to endure
the end result’s in the score.

I know there are countless specialists,
whose talent is provide the bits missing,
but simple things that vanish over time.
are conversation, laughter, tenderness and kissing.

When the specialists excel,
many marriages can make do this way.
But we can be happy day and night
if all courses at the same cafe!

RBM, 2001

The more we study and understand the human condition, the more effective we become in management and as individuals. It might even help us to become more aware of the vital part that our loved ones play in creating that essential balance in our lives.

The part that our life-companions play is so important that unless we’ve got things “right” at home, we are not much good to anyone. A vote of thanks may be appropriate for the “home front”.


Close friends are we,
with so many shared feelings.

The years have been kind,
by watching over our many dealings,

From fire-fighting to tree-planting,
from grave-shifting to dog-walking.

Every adventure something unexpected,
but always companionably rewarding.

You have brought me a new dimension,
and these years have been my best.

That’s why I call you,
my darling treasure chest.

RBM, 2001