The balcony: It’s the place you go to get perspective. Marty Linsky and Ron Heifetz talk about the balcony in their research and teachings on adaptive leadership. We are constantly moving from the ballroom–where we are actively participating in the dance–to the balcony. The balcony is where we can see the patterns emerge. It’s a great place to be because it’s got its own kind of beauty. From the balcony you cannot hear the tiny conversations about who’s wearing the right shoes or who forgot to put a tampon in her purse for the evening. You cannot see with any precision whether a dress is too tight or someone’s name is spelled correctly on the guest list. You can see and hear big stuff. You can hear, for instance whether the room sounds happy or sad. You can see if there are folks on the sidelines.
I love the balcony. I think I have an innate attraction to it. It is hard for me to resist backing up, backing out, raising my awareness to the level of patterns. I see great value in the balcony. The ballroom? It makes me kind of nervous. It’s a room full of activity and sweaty people and strange foods and uncomfortable clothing. And while the details are exquisite, there’s one small issue: There’s no hiding on the ballroom floor. You can be seen and heard and touched. You cannot hide. You are part of the action. No more being aloof or removed or safe from judgment. You are your most vulnerable when you’re on the ballroom floor.
This blog will be the place I push myself to fall off the balcony. A place where I allow myself to fall down off of the high post of evaluation and into my own humanity. Balcony falls. This is the space to explore life on the dance floor. Sweaty. Awkward. Exposed.
There’s one more reason for the name–my best friend. The only friend with whom I’ve really been able to completely fall off the balcony and into my own truth. And that friend has this great quality about her that I think is rare in many women. She reminds me to have fun. She notices when I’m trying too hard and missing the part where I can experience joy. Like the time she taught me to knit and she noticed I was all scrunched up in a ball, stressed out over the yarn twisting just right. And she smiled and said, “Amanda, dear, FOR GODSSAKE it’s only knitting.” One of my friend’s favorite hobbies is being on a boat in the water. One of her favorite places to be on the water is a place called Balcony Falls. It’s a beautiful, rough patch of the James River that tests your strength, skill, and balance. And it’s also a lot of fun to ride. So I name this in honor of her, my friend with whom I can rest in my truth–and allow myself to enjoy the ride down.