Strike a balance

When you “strike a balance,” you try to find the right amount of each.

Today's story: September 11 Museum
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Strike a balance

Today’s English expression is “strike a balance.” We use this phrase when we’re talking about competing ideas or competing priorities. When you strike a balance, you try to find the right amount of each. This isn’t about being an either-or choice. It’s about finding how much of one thing and how much of the other thing we should put together.

A company needs to devote energy to keeping its current customers happy and getting new customers. If they only focused on current customers, then they’d never get new customers. But if they only focused on getting new customers, then the existing customers would go elsewhere . The company has to do both. But how much of each? That’s the question. The company needs to strike the right balance between satisfying existing customers and attracting new ones.

When you go on vacation, do you like to explore and do activities? Or do you prefer to just relax and do nothing? I like to strike a balance. On my last vacation, I went with my cousin to a hotel with a nice pool to relax for a few days and then we went to a new city that neither of us had been to before. We struck a balance between pure relaxation and total exploration.

How about where you live? When I moved to my current apartment, I wanted to strike the right balance between location and space. The better the location, the less space I could afford. I didn’t want to live in a tiny apartment in a fantastic location. But I also didn’t want to live in a huge house far from everything. So, I tried to strike a balance. I got a place that was the right size, and in a neighborhood that’s good, but not the center of all the action.

Do you remember how you heard it earlier? I said the September 11 Museum had to strike a balance between honoring the victims and telling the story of what happened that day . Not everyone thinks they struck the right balance. Some people think it should only be a memorial to the victims. Others think it should only be a museum, and the memorial should be elsewhere. But I think they did strike the right balance.

I think I’ve mentioned maybe a hundred times that my favorite sport is baseball. Baseball has a long and rich history in the United States, but it is, sadly, declining in popularity. The games are three hours long and they play 162 of them a year, not including the playoffs. Not everyone has the time or attention span to follow a full season of baseball. As a result, the game is trying to appeal to more modern audiences with new rules designed to speed up the game. This is upsetting some traditionalists, who want the game to be like it always has been. The sport, then, needs to strike the right balance between respecting tradition and modernizing the rules.

Parenting—I’m told! —is all about striking the right balance. Should you be strict with your kids or more understanding? You can’t be too much of either; you have to strike the right balance. How much screen time should your kids get? Some parents prohibit any type of screen time for their kids. But I think that’s just going to make their kids look for it elsewhere. Other parents think YouTube is a babysitter. Most parents, though, try to strike the right balance between the kids’ screen time and time in the real world.

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote of the week is from Thomas Merton. He says, “Happiness is not a matter of intensity but balance and order and rhythm and harmony.” All about striking the right balance. I’m working on that myself!

See you next time!

Well, that’s all for today’s Plain English, lesson number 398. Remember that the full lesson is online at PlainEnglish.com/398, and that’s where you can find the transcripts, video lessons, exercises, and more. On Thursday, we’ll pick up with the exhibits that you’ll find on your visit to the September 11 Museum in New York. See you then.

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Story: September 11 Museum