050 Why you need strategic margin

What do you do when you’re overloaded and you run out of margin? The impulse to off-load during those times may hinder your ability to develop true strategic margin.

Why you need strategic margin

This week’s Inspire Me quote is from futurist Alvin Toffler:

“If you don’t have a strategy, you’re part of someone else’s strategy.”

How true. It’s far easier to follow someone else’s vision and strategy than it is to develop your own. Developing your own strategy for your future requires sufficient margin. Margin is defined as the difference between your limits (your capacity) and your load (the demands upon you). It’s a simple mathematical formula: M (margin) = P (power) – L (load). To get more margin, you either increase your power (capacity) or you decrease your load (demands).

The problem is that the most expedient way to create margin is to decrease load; to off-load your demands—cancel appointments, delegate tasks, back out of commitments, etc. That’s good temporary relief, but it does nothing to help develop strategic margin. And it perpetuates a habit of choosing to bail out anytime overload occurs.

Decreasing load has no affect on personal power (capacity). However, if you increase your personal power, you can increase your load as well. This is how highly-effective people get more done.

There are five ways we can increase our personal power:

  1. Willpower. Willpower is self-control. Cultivating this power by exercising intentionality to evaluate the presuppositions you hold.
  2. Delegative power. Those with strong delegative power possess the character of delegation, not just the act of it. The real test of delegative power is if you also delegate credit for the outcome and not just the task.
  3. Reciprocity power. Your network has tremendous power to help you accomplish more. But only if you invest in it first. Our networking episode (see below) discusses this.
  4. Creative power. We all have the power to create, but seldom play in such a way as to ask, “What if?” Creative power is exercising non-linear thinking to our lives.
  5. Structural power. This is the power of how you work. It requires a lot of risk to try new structures on how we work.

This week’s Challenge Me:

Ask yourself: Am I doing something only because I’ve done it before. Get back to the “why” questions. What’s the biggest thing that I’m presently doing that I really shouldn’t be doing? What would it take to give that up?

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