Are You in the Red or in the Black, or Both?


This old cash register reminded me that sometimes we are in the black and sometimes we are in the red. That concept applies to more than just money, but all too often we forget to put other areas of our life into that perspective.  We can find ourselves in a deficit situation in almost any area of life – education, relationships spirituality, community, love, passion, even our energy level. With our buy lives, the challenge of getting things done in only twenty-four hours each day, and the hidden desires within out heart we may not want to face the times when we are in the red.

I spoke to a man who was struggling with finding a rhythm between his career and his family life. He worked six sometimes seven days a week to the point here his son actually sent him an invitation to his birthday party; the son sent it to the man’s office. The boy wanted to make sure his dad saw it. Ouch! Suddenly the man knew his personal life was in the red. If he didn’t change something soon he may not have much of a personal life anymore.

I spoke to a woman who was struggling with wanting to start her own company and staying in her corporate job. She realized it would be hard to do both. Her talents and abilities gave her such an abundance of ideas and expertise that she had choices she could never have imagined ten years ago. For her, life was in the black.

Not all of us have such obvious evidence of being in the red or being in the black, either because we don’t stop to evaluate or we have so much going on that many aspects of our lives can be in the red while other areas are in the black. It can be a mix that changes all the time.  And the meaning of red or black is most likely different for all of us; what is red to one may seem like total black to another. Let’s face it, if you are true and honest with yourself you know when your life is bleeding red, or when you are in the black and flying high. Be it your energy, your emotions, your heart or your head, you know enough to be aware when something is right or when something is spiraling out of control.

Like business life is about managing the ups and downs of it all. Some weeks are spot on while others weeks leave you eating ice cream straight out of the tub while watching sad movies. Being an adult means dealing with those emotions, understanding their temporary nature, and getting out of bed the next day with the courage and hope that things will get better. Life and business are about change, growth, high points and low points. The key is to know how to manage the chunks – times and situations where you are in the red or in the black.

So if you had to evaluate your life, right now, where would you fall? In what areas of your life are you in the red, and where are you superbly in the black? Where were those same areas last month, or even last year? Being able to see the trends and triggers help us face both sides over and over again. Like this old cash register the drawer opens and closes, some days it is full and other days it is empty. Have the courage to manage both in a way that you will be proud of your character and your actions once the tides turn to the other side. It’s not the red or that black that people remember, it is how you react to it that leaves an indelible mark.

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