Many of us are burdened, both in our work and private lives, by the excess baggage that we carry around with us. But our blind spots may cause us to be oblivious to the physical and emotional excesses that have become part of us. There are ways of streamlining our lives through regularly reviewing our personal resources, services and the way we operate. And we need to be motivated to take the necessary action on our findings.
One of my favourite stories relating to this topic is told by Mark Eppler in ‘Management Mess-ups: 57 pitfalls you can avoid (and stories of those who didn’t)’. He describes Mess-up No 19 as ‘failure to ‘scrape the barnacles’ by conducting frequent self-appraisals and making the needed adjustments.’ How often do we fall into this trap?
Early one morning the author was walking along the beach in Ireland. In the distance he saw the fisherman on the beach rubbing their up-side down boats. He was concerned as the weather was good and they should have been out fishing. Feeling curious, he went over and spoke to them and was told that they were ‘scraping away the barnacles’. It still didn’t make sense as to him it seemed that they were wasting a day when they could have been out fishing and thus making money.
They explained that barnacles, those tiny little mollusks that attach themselves to rocks, wood and anything else under seawater, although starting off very small, would grow over time making the fishermen’s boats heavier and heavier. They estimated that this could cost them up to 40% extra in fuel and make the boats far less maneuverable.
Isn’t that a great metaphor for what happens in our lives? Things creep up on us. We become complacent. Whether emotionally or physically we use more resources, more energy in order to achieve our goals. We are less agile and thus less able to quickly and easily respond to change in the form of pivoting. Being able to recognise opportunities and optimise by taking immediate action is important in our lives, particularly during this current pandemic.
When mentoring clients or training groups, I often encourage them to ‘develop an attitude of positive discontent’. This concept often emerges in my role as an executive coach, too. What do we mean by that phrase? And how do we go about determining whether aspects of our business or private lives are the best that they can be?
I recommend scheduling a day every 3 or 6 months when you carefully scrutinise all your resources, your product, your service, the way you operate. In fact, you need to look at every aspect of your personal and or business life and check that each is serving you well. Cut down on excesses. Find new ways of improving productivity and enhancing your ‘way of being’. For each element, if it is the best it can be, then there is no need to take action now. However, at the next audit, you need to consider it again. If it isn’t (the best it can be), put this in your action plan with definite steps in order to implement and sustain the desired improvement.
Take action! By using less fuel we will be making better use of our resources, have more energy and there will be less wastage. We will be more agile so that we can recognise and optimise opportunities. Our productivity and way of being will be enhanced and we are more likely to have a sense of flourishing.
The video version of this story, How to streamline your life may be seen on our website.
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