3 Hidden Secrets About The Power Of Imbalance

By Marisa Cleveland

Back in July of 2020, I created a post on Instagram that read, “I have found that balance is the archnemesis of creativity. If you want to be creative, lose your balance.” After working with hundreds of authors and artists – and now emerging leaders – I still believe this applies to most people. I live with the ideology that we are all the CEOs of our own lives, and this being the case, we are all leaders of ourselves.

This also implies that we will have followers, whether we realize it or not. Whether intentional or not, people will see us and judge us using a criteria that we might not ever know. But for those who want to be leaders, who purposefully seek to care for those who follow them, this sentiment about losing your balance applies to you. Unpopular though it may seem, losing your balance can be beneficial to your growth, but like most things in life, loss of balance should happen in moderation. Too much of a good thing can dilute anyone’s appreciation for it, and everyone’s definition of balance might be slightly different. 

As a scholar-practitioner, I’m like a curator. I listen, observe, and research, and I’m always eager to share what I learn with others. Here are three hidden secrets about the power of imbalance, and why you should lose your balance if you want to grow.


Balance implies an imbalance, and that imbalance shows us where our passions are. It’s wonderful to be a well-rounded individual maintaining symbiotic care for our minds, bodies, and souls. But if you want to find your passion, as a young entrepreneur and emerging leader, look to where your heart strays. What is the one thing you wish you were doing when you’re doing something else? What is the one topic we’re obsessed with learning more about, where it doesn’t feel like a homework assignment or a requirement for a job? We can’t like doing everything with all the same intensity. Our lives aren’t neatly and evenly divided into two 12-hour days, or three 8-hour sections, or four 6-hour portions, or even six 4-hour increments.

Leaders space out their day to maximize their attention on who and what matters most. Balance doesn’t have to be a daily routine. Time is our most precious commodity, and if we’re truly striving to live a purposeful life, and not just one where we check all the boxes of the day off a balance sheet, then some days you might find yourself off-kilter. Embrace the fall. When we fall, our bodies release a surge of adrenaline, and we can use that adrenaline to our advantage.


Imbalance allows us a chance to view our lives from a different angle. When we’re feeling off balance, what’s the one lifeline we reach for? Who helps us calibrate our inconsistencies? What exactly is missing from our balanced lifestyle? These questions help us pinpoint what needs to be adjusted to help us maintain that elusive balance. When we’re thrown off balance, we can use that to view something from a different perspective. Those moments of imbalance can make your life fuller and more purposeful.

If balance comes naturally to you, then imbalance may feel like a huge risk or veering too far off course, but if you’re careful, and cultivate a positive support system, then losing your balance can help you unlock your creativity. How? As an emerging writer but former English and language arts teacher, I let the writing conventions stifle my authorial voice. I was too focused on writing every sentence the right way, and it wasn’t until I followed Pablo Picasso’s advice – “Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist” – that I figured out the secret to balance. Learn how to find your balance, so you can embrace the times when you need to lose your balance. Then, look at life from a different perspective.


Creating balance can happen at any moment and at any time of the day or night. So, too, can imbalance. You can be intentional when you allow imbalance to take over certain moments of your life. When you’re on deadline, when you’re laser-focused on completing a task, when you’re immersed in an experience that simply cannot be interrupted, those are the times when imbalance creates beautiful and memorable moments. Imbalance also happens when you unplug, disconnect, or take a vacation, forgetting about everything else going on in your life. The ability to create balance and imbalance is really what every leader strives to achieve. After all, one could argue that balance is a concept that is only achieved by making adjustments to what is off balance.  

If you want to achieve your goals, you need to challenge yourself. As a former gymnast, cheerleader, and dancer, I understand the importance of balance, but I also remember how, in order to achieve those skills to earn higher scores and move up to the next level, I needed to throw myself off balance. Standing upright was easy. Even standing on one leg with my eyes closed for a limited amount of time was an achievable goal. But running, lunging forward onto my hands, flinging my legs over my head, to eventually land and jump backwards while twisting mid-air required a different equilibrium. It also required me to lose my balance. 

We’ve all read the benefits of living a balanced life, but sometimes, to challenge ourselves, we have to learn to launch ourselves off balance to keep our forward momentum.

Marisa Cleveland, Ed.D. is the co-author of ‘THERE IS NO BOX: A Practical Guide for the Relatable Leader’, a New York Times bestselling author, a literary agent, and an educator adamant about supporting efforts toward the betterment of the human condition. Marisa is the co-founder of Simeris Alliance, the executive director for The Seymour Agency, and Hodges University Board of Trustees vice-chair. In 2014, Gulfshore Business selected her as a Forty Under Forty honoree. Marisa holds a doctor of education in organizational leadership from Northeastern University and a master in arts in educational administration from George Mason University. Connect with Marisa on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and find out more about her work on her website.

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