Toby arrives towards the end of our morning at the dog park as part of a dog walker’s pack. What makes him special is his love affair with a big red ball. Toby heads directly to it and proceeds to run it around the park with a skill that would rival a soccer pro. If the ball is outside the park and one of us tosses it in, the sound of the ball hitting the dirt is enough to grab Toby’s attention from anywhere in the park.
But Toby’s game, while admirable and amusing to those who watch him, had a distinct downside. By being so focused on the ball, Toby failed to socialize with the other members of his pack. In the absence of the ball, he didn’t really know how to interact with the other dogs and got into trouble from time to time. There was only one solution: Toby had to go cold turkey. At the request of his walker, we stopped tossing Toby the ball and no longer encouraged his play. It took a few weeks but Toby is now well-adjusted and enjoys playing with other dogs. He still gets to play with his ball but not every time he comes to the park.
Being focused is an admirable quality and can be important to success. But anything taken to extreme is not healthy. Many of us focus heavily on our jobs or other aspects of our life without realizing that doing so closes us off from personal interactions. And in the long run, those interactions are what gives meaning to our lives. This is why achieving balance in life is so important. If you’re too busy chasing that big red ball, you may be missing out on the social interactions that make life worth living.