I teach people to design strategies to create harmony between all the elements of life, yet on a busy day that’s full of appointments and good things, the very first thing to go is my yoga practice. What you get from me on these days is an imbalanced Donna, heavy on ego and somewhat lacking in symmetry. I can fake it for a short period of time, but life always catches up.

Symmetry in everyday language, according to Wikipedia (the source of all truth) refers to a sense of harmonious and beautiful proportion and balance. They say in mathematics, “symmetry” has a more precise definition, and I would venture to say the same is true in wine and leadership.

There is an art in winemaking to get the right symmetry from the influence of all of the elements of the must (skins, stems, et al). Left in too long, any one of these elements can render the wine bitter. Therein lies the parallel with leadership.

Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing.

Synonyms for symmetry include words like equilibrium and congruity. One definition describes symmetry as the quality of being made up of similar parts around an axis, which is exactly how we in life strategy design talk about the congruence of all the parts of our humanity — spirit, soul and body — around the axis we call life.

Too much spirit, and we lack the complexity that makes us interesting.

Too much soul, and we can get lost in our intellect or ego and miss the point of life.

Too much body, as a leader, is all about rules and conformity out of balance with creativity.

When we live with symmetry, or my favorite word equanimity, we are cultivating our whole being to provide a greater contribution to the world. With symmetry, we understand the parts of a team that make up a greater whole and learn to value every part regardless of rank or title.

With symmetry, we no longer value the badge of honor we used to get from hustle and striving (to invoke Brene Brown). With symmetry we attribute as much value to walking the dog as we do checking that work thing off the list. With symmetry in the way we manage our whole life, we live in greater harmony with everyone and everything we touch.

Watch for my ongoing series on lessons from the grapevine — how wine paints a picture of GREAT leadership. Find out more about my coaching intensive weekend creating new wine in our whole life and leadership at https://360lifestrategies.com/retreats/. Want to make sure you don’t miss any of this? Get on my mail list at https://360lifestrategies.com and access the quiz to find out how the wine tastes in your life.


  • Donna Carlson

    Women's Leadership & Life Strategy Coach

    360º Life Strategies

    Women comprise 56% of the workforce but so many of us don't ask for what we want. Why is that? After a 30 year career accepting second best, living like a race horse held behind the start gate, Donna Carlson changed her strategy from being a thermometer - reflecting the mores of the world around her - to being a thermostat. Now Donna coaches women to own their personal style and leadership power.