The myth of work-life balance?

Dan Pfaff

Dan Pfaff

Head Coach

I come from a family tradition of storytellers. 

I love to hear and speak about stories. So when I’m guiding younger coaches through some of the pitfalls we encounter in our coaching lives, I tend to tell gut-level honest stories of failures, successes, trials, tribulations, etc.  I also share biographies of coaches and other leaders who have fallen into some of the same traps or slammed into the same barriers when appropriate. I have 100s of biographies in my library and often loan them out in a timely manner to mentees who are stuck or in a bad place. 

I’m not sure how many hear the message, but I try.

As I wrote last week – coaching is not for everybody.  It can be a tough road, and we are always at-risk of burnout.  

I’ve ‘hit the wall’ 3 times in my life and through counseling, family and dear friends, I’ve been blessed to come out of it each time. The wall for me means unable to do tasks at hand in any sort of professional manner on a consistent basis. 

It may also include a defined erosion of skills over time that are critical to performance as an educator. Instigators were always stress — both external and self-induced. My radar for red flags that lead to this stage have improved with counseling, research, networking and just general emotional and spiritual growth over time. 

I’m getting better, but it’s still a process.  

Work-life balance. 

Stu always says it’s a myth.  We don’t strive for ‘balance’, do we?

It’s a big ask – at least in the micro sense. 

I think what really happens with elite performers is that there are periods of isolation and narcissism, and then periods of healthy outward relationships and life duties. 

It undulates in a defined cycle for me. 

In my 20s, it was about career building, network growth, experimentation, and massive hours at the coal face and traveling abroad — my family suffered. 

In my 30s, I had a bit clearer idea on things, was in a refinement mode of sorts, but still traveled like a mad man.  I tried to increase quality time at home, and schedule regular breaks and times with family and other community interests. 

In my 40s, it was showtime!  I was finally on a stage I dreamed of and was shocked that it didn’t bring any joy at all – big existential crisis period for me. 

So I dove back hard into family, counseling and other interests. 

In my 50s, the dust settled and a lot more worldwide experiences appeared.  It allowed me to block time for more things and spend way more quality time with family. 

In my 60s, I just pick and choose, help those with sincere interests and objectives and as a grandparent, try to avoid mis-steps made with my own 2 children — second chance chapter of sorts. 

So no one decade had ‘balance’ — but as a totality?  



Explore the challenging concept of work-life balance in sports coaching with ‘The Myth of Work-Life Balance?’ on ALTIS. This insightful article delves into the realities and misconceptions of balancing professional and personal life in the demanding world of sports. It’s a must-read for coaches and athletes alike, offering valuable perspectives on managing responsibilities and wellbeing in a high-performance environment. Join us in unraveling the myth and discovering practical strategies for achieving harmony in the relentless pursuit of athletic excellence.


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