Perils of Practicing What I Preach


On “Balance”

Being an executive coach demands integrity and credibility which, in part, means practicing what we preach. I have to be honest; it is not easy!

Take BALANCE for example.

The notion of life balance brings forth the image of The Life Wheel, that looks like a pie chart where the pie is equally divided into slices: Family, Friends, Health and Wellbeing, Work and Career, Rest and Relaxation, Education and Learning, Spirituality, Community. Figure out what you value in life, set your priorities and make your choices accordingly and PRESTO you will achieve BALANCE!

The quest to achieve balance is inspired by the ability to peacefully move from one commitment to the next with grace,  and never ever letting anyone down along the way.  Achieving balance  will make us happier, healthier and more productive, right?

You can’t have a coaching conversation about balance without also talking about boundaries. The theory says that we fail to achieve balance because we fail to set and assert boundaries.  Gurus tell us that when we say ‘yes’ to everyone and everything, we create a lifestyle where  we feel miserable because we honestly tried to deliver on every promise but yet, we satisfied very few. Still, no balance so you back to your life wheel and rethink your value based priorities, right?

Next up, you come across advise that successful people guard their boundaries by saying ‘no’. For example:

  • “Saying “No.”  is a complete sentence”
  • “Say no to everything, so you can say yes to the one thing that really matters”
  • “We must be able to say what is ‘not for me’ in order to have a ‘me’”
  • When you say “No” you become respected as a person who can be counted on to follow through when you say “Yes”.

and so on.

As part of my living laboratory, I have taken this rule to heart so my time is devoted to my value based priorities. When I say ‘yes’ I mean it. My ‘no’ is crystal clear and I stick to it.


I found out that no one pats you on the back and thanks you for your clarity. Au contraire! Pushback that comes with the ‘no’. Here are a few quotes from my personal experience:

  • “Why do you think your time is more important than everyone else’s?”
  • “Wow, have you ever changed since high school” (that one was meant as an insult. Lord help her!)
  • “We can make that work, why can’t you?”
  • “You are not very flexible, are you?”
  • “Can’t you just put your kids in daycare so that you can attend these meetings in person rather than conference call?”
  • “Can’t you just tell you husband to do more?”
  • “You should be more flexible because I work and you are just a consultant.”

Its true! I can’t make this stuff up!  Here is the brutal truth that comes with the territory: Staying strong and expecting my boundaries to be respected has brought forth the ugly truth about some people, it has caused painful losses and caused me to make sacrifices. I have been dumped by people whom I thought were my friends and I have been engaged in conflict by business associates who tried and tried and tried again to push past my boundaries. In almost all cases, there was a parting of ways.

Has it been worth the battles and painful losses?

I will say with a resounding “YES!”  that holding true to my values and sticking to my boundaries has brought me not only better balance, but more inner peace,  self respect and has allowed more control of my destiny, bringing me higher levels of happiness and success than ever before.

The cull was indeed painful and disappointing but it made room in my life for the most beautiful personal and professional relationships that I could have ever dreamed of. No more drama, no more wasted energy….which to me  is well worth the perils of practicing what I preach.

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Author:  Corry Robertson

Sought-after coaching culture expert, Corry Robertson has been helping leaders uplevel employee retention and performance for over 20 years.


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  1. Organizational Development Practitioner

    Thank you for providing authentic reactions people had to your boundaries. It is incredibly helpful in setting expectations for ourselves regarding balance. Cheers

  2. Betty Healey

    A great blog.and so realistic. I always tell clients that setting boundaries will mean push back from others and that this is a test as to our willingness to stay true to ourself. Well written and yes the feedback from others sure rings true!

  3. Jim

    Thanks Corry. Boundaries can be one of the toughest tests we face day to day. One helpful tip that I believe is attributed to Jack Canfield has helped me. He says “When someone asks me do do something, I filter it through my desire to be of service and my priorities at that moment. If it is a good fit for me, I say yes. If it is not, I explain – I am not saying NO to you, I am saying YES to me!” Jim


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