It can be the simplest thing - a profound quote, a beautiful photo, a compelling article. But when you come across it, something clicks into place. It strikes you at the exact time you need it.
My moment happened when I stumbled across the definition of 'balter'.
Sounds funny, right? That the definition of a single word could spark a total epiphany.
But it did.
I mean, it made so much sense to me that I changed my business name to include it. At the time, it encapsulated not just the business I wanted to have, but the life I wanted to live. And to this day, it still reminds me to keep that purpose front and centre in every decision I make.
Now I know what you’re thinking. What does dancing have to do with business? And why on earth would you want to do anything ‘artlessly’, or ‘clumsily’?
I get it. Those terms feel loaded. They seem to carry implications of ‘not trying hard enough’. In a world of work where every accomplishment is weighed against ever-changing expectations, where status is paramount, where progress is the priority, to ‘dance’ or ‘tread’ through life just doesn’t sit right with us.
In a culture of 'always on, always striving, always perfect', we expect to get to our destination immediately. Anything other than that feels frustratingly slow.
In this culture, to ‘balter’ is to willingly refuse to run that race. And to many people, that feels deeply subversive.
I know that’s how I used to feel. Performing, perfecting and pleasing was my go-to approach. Looking back, it was just the feedback loop I was living in. I am the eldest of five siblings. The mother of two boys. The founder of a business. That sense of responsibility was pretty much built into my DNA.
And don’t get me wrong - there’s value in it. My work ethic, my tenacity and my desire to serve others are qualities that define me, and I’m damn proud of them. But through the stories I gathered in this feedback loop of mine, I also internalised this myth - to be successful, you have to have everything 'together’.
You have to have your eyes on the prize, and the blinders on. 'Having fun’ is not on the agenda when there is hard work to be done. You can have both, but never at the same time.
Hello to all my fellow perfection-chasing, over-achieving peeps who just raised their hand.
Like most deeply held beliefs we have, mine was only broken when something truly shook up life as I knew it.
Not long after the birth of my second son, I was diagnosed with bowel cancer. It was unexpected, and relentless. Nine months of chemotherapy, major surgery and a stint in the ICU. I won’t go into all the messy, painful details, but here’s that truth that we all half-know but don’t truly understand until it happens to us:
So, these days, I’m tapping out of the race that I thought I had to run. Instead? I ‘balter’.
To me, that word represents courage. The courage to live on your own terms.
To move through life with an orientation towards enjoyment. To seek pleasure without worrying how that may be perceived by others.
To own what makes YOU happy and to pursue it for its own sake. To understand that ‘skill’ and ‘grace’ are not the only metrics of success.
And to know that doing something 'artfully' is nowhere near as important as doing things 'authentically'.
They’re the people I want to serve. THIS is how I want to approach life and business.
Always striving to show up unapologetically and to help others do the same. Always prioritising the process over the final destination. And always making enjoyment a non-negotiable when it comes to work and play (in a creative business, they are so often one and the same!)
To me, running a business is a daily dance. Sometimes, we show up and know all the steps. Sometimes we stumble over our two left feet.
Sometimes we won't feel all that graceful. But we can make a commitment to doing it happily and always with enjoyment.
Who's with me?
Does this philosophy resonate with you? Or are you not quite convinced that ‘baltering’ and business go together? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Oh, and if you’ve had any similar ’stop-you-in-your-tracks' epiphany moments, throw them down in the comments below.
As the founder of i.Balter Design, Emily Nair creates spaces that support the connections that matter.
Specialising in residential and commercial building design, she believes that our physical environments have a powerful impact on how we live and work.Learn more