In every area of your life and leadership, margin creates peace. Without fail, if you violate this principle, you will pay for it in some obvious way. You’ll be late for something important. You will miss a deadline. You will lose the confidence of your customers or stakeholders. You’ll damage the trust your partner and kids have in you.
Margin creates peace.
- When you have margin you manage your energy and deliver optimally.
- When you have margin you can pay your bills and invest for the future.
- When you have margin you can make conversation and connect deeply.
- When you have margin you can think clearly and decide confidently.
- When you have margin your offline time really is offline.
- And the list goes on.
In every area of life and leadership, margin creates peace. Margin is created by having a vision for what you are creating, doing and accomplishing. Margin gives you the space to create, deliver, enjoy and recreate with room to spare.
Margin Creates Peace – Model
The model explained:
The three key elements to margin are purpose, planning and discipline.
In that order.
Purpose is knowing why you do what you do. It’s a deep guiding belief in the value of your work, the contribution you are making and the leader you are becoming.
Planning is ensuring that your only non-renewable resource, time, is being invested in a way that moves you consistently closer to your purpose. It is accelerated by the use of a fixed calendar (Attribution: Carey Nieuwhof). This tool helps you shape your ideal week and stay disciplined and focused. It is your record of what has to happen and when.
Discipline is about saying a positive no to anything and everything that takes you away from your plan and your purpose. The counterintuitive part of this is that the more you discipline your life and leadership the more freedom you ultimately have.
When you combine a compelling why with a consistent way you are able to create a rhythm that gets things done. When you have a compelling why combining with a positive no you free yourself to focus on what you have already said yes to, thereby removing any distractions. When you have a consistent way and a positive no you need grit to stay on course, persevere and see your commitment through. It may not be easy all the time but it will be worth it.
The cumulative effect of that is so significant.
Will it make the boat go faster?
Was the mantra of the British Men’s Eight rowing team as they focused for the two years leading up to the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. They set their compelling why in place and measured off every behaviour by asking themselves….
“Will it make the boat go faster?”
That defined all their decisions, all their focus, all their time allocation, training and commitment leading up the final race of the Olympic Regatta.
Here Ben Hunt Davis recounts the private disciplines that led to a very public victory.
What would your, “Will it make the boat go faster?” mantra be from now on? What will guide you to a place of confidence as well as conviction that you are doing significant work and it requires the best part of you? Who will benefit from this? In what specific ways? These reminders help you see the transition to margin as a must have not a nice to have.
How to begin creating margin.
- Spend the next 90 days moving towards a fixed calendar (Attribution; Carey Nieuwhof)
- Begin with making changes privately and personally. Diet, sleep and exercise first. Most value add activities second. Calendar refocus next.
- Get clear about what your nemesis will be and strategise around it (mine is lack of discipline around time and appointments).
- Tell at least three people whose options matter and influence on you is important. For accountability, challenge and encouragement.
- Create a check-in/measure rhythm process. Daily weekly and monthly until the new way of leading is more automatic than both the old way and bad habits.
It’s paradoxical that you can achieve more by doing less. That you will be healthier, more productive, better to be around and oh so much more fun when you have margin. Margin starts by creating peace and ends up being the way you become the best version of yourself and make the most contribution to the world. Today would be a good day to slow down in order to speed up.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.