An organization has only 100 percent of its resources and energies to spend. I have no idea what is meant when a manager says, “Let’s give it 110 percent!” There is a finite amount of energy, and the question is simple: is it directed toward internal, political issues, or toward external, client issues?
In the best companies I’ve worked with (or observed), the ratio is about 10/90. That is, 10 percent of the energy is abraded away internally, but 90 percent of it is directed toward sales, service, retention, market share, and so forth.
Alan Weiss, Million Dollar Coaching
There are times I have to leave the house and socialize with other people. As an introvert, that isn’t my natural state. Occasionally, it happens that I have to engage a group of people that I don’t really know (aka “strangers”), adding a level of emotional awkwardness. If I’m physically uncomfortable on top of that (i.e. my chair is at a weird angle, or personal space is limited, or I have a headache, etc.) where do you think the vast majority of my personal energy is focused?
Obviously, in those circumstances, most of my energy is going to go into coping with the situation. Very little will be reserved for making new acquaintances, smiling, or being friendly. I’ll want to use my wife and kids as a shelter, rather than be aware of how they’re feeling, and I’d be filling my time by checking the clock and eyeing the door.
And that’s just one event in a lifetime filled with thousands upon thousands of various such twists and turns. In each of those moments, I’ll only have a limited amount of resources to fall back on. Each day – each hour – each second only has so much energy to expend. That time I spend at work, or at church, or at home, or volunteering – how will I use it? Where will it be focused?
It’s important to understand that. It really does matter.
See, organizational energy is a byproduct of individual energy. We each contribute a portion of the greater whole when it comes to directing the energy of our places of business, or service, or worship. Whether you’re in a family of five, a church of fifty, or a company of twelve thousand, your focus makes a difference on the internal to external ratio of that organization.
Do an audit of the energy being spent by that sleepy church in the Midwest with a slowly shrinking membership. Are they busy trying to keep the people within the walls happy, or are they zealously focused on serving their neighbors and beyond? How have their members affected their ratio? It might be helpful to do an audit of each of them.
And when we’re criticizing the organizations we’re a part of, maybe we need to do an audit on ourselves.
Just a thought.
If you are one of the
five regular readers of this blog, you’re well aware that I have no love of debt. To me, there’s almost no good reason to go into debt, and a lot of good reasons to pay it off as quickly as possible. However, I try to keep an open mind. So, I thought it would be a good mental exercise to try to come up with some valid reasons to stay in debt. Here’s what I came up with.
#1. You have severe pulpuslacerataphobia.
That’s the fear of getting paper cuts, which is sure to happen while you sort through and organize all of those statements and bills you’ve piled up. Getting everything organized is usually the first step when you’re trying to get out of debt, because you have to have an accurate picture of your financial situation before you can move forward. While the internet and online banking are making mail and the paper it’s printed on less and less common, it’s not totally gone yet. Serious pulpuslacerataphobics might consider investing in good pair of gloves if they’re trying to get their money under control…or they can just stay in debt.
#2. The thought of divorce excites you.
Study after study shows that the top indicator that a marriage will end in divorce is the number of money fights a couple has per month. Debt adds a lot of tension to an already difficult situation. If one partner is desperately trying to pay off outstanding loans, while the other is constantly opening new ones, they’re doomed. Getting a couple to communicate about their money goals, make compromises, put all the numbers on paper, agree to it all, and not go off and do whatever-the-hell-they’d-like afterwards, is so important for a healthy marriage. They all should have that discussion before they head down the aisle…or they can just roll the dice and hope for an exciting outcome.
#3. You love your stuff.
Once you get going on paying off your debts, everything you own gets looked at through a very difficult filter. Namely, “Do I want that thing more than I want to be out of debt?” How much do you love that big and beautiful flat-screen television? Or that vintage automobile that you’re sinking hundreds of dollars every month into? Sure, you could always buy more stuff later, with cash, after you’ve paid off all of your debts, but that’s not the point. You already have this stuff, it’s yours, and you love it.
#4. You don’t want to change your life.
I can remember what it was like before we started fighting our way out of the financial hole we dug, and it was pretty easy on me. I’d go to work, bring home a steady income, and my wife would take care of making sure the bills were paid. It is shocking how different my perspective on life is today than it was four years ago. It’s way more difficult, but the future looks so much better in so many ways. Still, there’s a shrinking, immature part of me that misses what used to be. Maybe that part is bigger for you?
Perhaps that wasn’t the most open-minded list. How about you? Can you think of a good reason to keep your debt?
One of the issues when you’re known for being the “money guy” is that your friends will inevitably fall into one of two groups. The first will mum up entirely, and trying to talk to them about it will increase tension in the room. The other group will not shut up about it. They’ll tell you about their income, what they’ve been buying, how they financed it, what they’re planning to invest in and do you think all of that is a good idea? In either case, I try to listen to what they’re saying (even when they’re not talking).
One family friend of ours has been struggling financially for a while. He and his spouse have ever growing debt, and occasional income problems. They’re not able to meet any of their financial goals. And while all of that is terrible, there’s a bigger problem that they’re not talking about.
The good thing is that he’s not in denial anymore. He recognizes that he has to start changing things to get out of the mess that they’re in. He’s been writing a budget for his family. They’ve sold some stuff. I can see the start of a plan forming in his mind. He could use some guidance and there are a bunch of hard decisions ahead, but there’s hope, right?
Yes and no.
When he shows his budget to his wife, she always agrees to it. I’ve never been in the room when it happens, but my gut is telling me that her agreement sounds something like, “That’s great, honey. Whatever you say.” And that’s not really an agreement. It’s more of an acquiescence. And she tries to go along with his budget, but then a need or an “emergency” comes up and she has to go buy something to cover it, or commit financially to something that’s outside of what’s on paper, and all of his work is blown.
The cycle continues to repeat, and their problems continue to slowly grow.
Now, understand, what I described makes her look really bad, but that’s not the case. She’s just trying to do the best she can to serve her family, the same as he is. She’s plugging holes and meeting needs, just like he’s trying to do. Don’t judge her harshly, because this isn’t all her fault.
This problem belongs to both of them. It’s that core problem I mentioned earlier. They’re not in unison.
His plan is his plan. The budget he creates is trying to solve the problem he’s seeing. Which is great, but his wife isn’t really bought in, despite what she says, because that budget doesn’t address any of the problems she’s seeing. It’s not her budget, and it’s not her plan – it’s her husband’s. And when one of the needs she sees comes up, his plan drops to the wayside, and she meets the need.
They need unity.
His plan needs to change and become their plan. His budget needs to become their budget. When that happens they’ll be in actual agreement, it will build trust, and they’ll come to find they can depend on each other. It’s amazing how much less of a struggle life is when you’re working together.