When I was a coach people often asked how it was that even though I wasn’t a “disciplinarian,” our teams played in such a disciplined manner. I think it is because of our desire to pay attention to details and not take anything for granted. We ask players to do their jobs exactly as they should be done and to take ownership for doing them well. Doing things the right way and following through on what you are supposed to do is the difference between being a championship team and being a mediocre one. Reaching those different personalities in the way they can understand, while at the same time helping them to grow as people and learn to discipline themselves, is a necessary skill in coaching. It’s very similar to my parents’ approach to teaching.
That is how I have been able to create margins—those allocations of time reflecting a commitment to the proper priorities—in my life and strike a balance between the things I have to do and those I want to do. I strive to manage my time so that when the day’s responsibilities are complete, I can head home. Here are several things that will help you if you are working on finding balance in life.
To me, “balance” can not be achieved simply by walking out the door at a set time or by scheduling a certain number of family activities. Rather, it is a function of our preparation and performance in those realms that we are seeking to balance, measured against our prescribed priorities.
In other words, if I work hard and get my work done, I can go home knowing that I have given my employer my best. If I am diligent when I am at home about being present for Lauren and my children, then I can leave with a clear conscience and right relationships when it is time to go back to the office.
Two Obstacles to Creating Margin
The two biggest obstacles I have seen in creating margins in our lives are poor time management and workaholism.The two biggest obstacles I have seen in creating margins in our lives are poor time management and workaholism. The former keeps you from ever feeling like you can allow yourself to leave the office, while the latter is a function of misaligned priorities, a distorted self-image, or some combination of both.
I know many men who have professional achievement as their main priority: climbing the corporate ladder all the way to the top. For some of these men, it probably flows from a sense that this will make them more valuable as men-or at least seem more valuable to themselves and others. They see themselves in terms of the respect, the status, or possibly the power that they hope to achieve through the job. Still others probably have an inadequate and unfinished image of themselves, and they believe-subconsciously at times-that more work helps them to be complete. They see themselves as the determined, diligent, committed worker, and therefore spend too many hours at the office trying to fulfill that image they have created.
Some men use the office as an escape from their families. To those, I say, have some guts. Make some changes. Go home and start restoring relationships one day at a time. Avoidance doesn’t solve anything; it merely serves as a temporary salve.
For the great majority, however, I would suspect that the inability to prioritize and work through tasks during the day is the single biggest impediment to having enough time to do the things they would like to do.
Doing things the right way all the time is the hallmark of a good team, and the cornerstone of a balanced life.
Sound off: What have you done to create margin in your life?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What are your top three priorities?”