Sustainability: Working Smarter Not Harder

One of the main things on the mind of my wife and I in this season of life is sustainability. While we are finding enjoyment following our calling in life, we are aware that if we are not careful, we could allow such things as the wear and tear of travel and the weariness of pursuing the next contract to compromise our ability to continue doing what we enjoy doing for the long haul. At the same time, we see the organizations we work with making decisions that either support or compromise their long term health.

Can sustainability be ensured? Absolutely! Check out the following 7 keys to working smarter:

  1. Structure for sustainability– Our personal lives and organizations are structured precisely for the results we are now getting. If we are not happy with our outcomes, then we need to go back and tweak mission statements, pace, values, policies and partnerships. Periodically bring in an outside set of eyes (i.e.- a coach or consultant) to help you re-evaluate, re-envision and re-position.
  2. Do climate control– Pay attention to the atmosphere of your home, business or ministry context. At times, toxic elements enter the climate and, if left unchecked, bring you further away from your goals. Monitor whether beliefs, attitudes and relationships are adding to or detracting from sustainability. Create and place in atmospheres where you and others thrive.
  3. Recruit wisely– Surround yourself with people who energize you because they enjoy (and a have a capacity for) their contribution to the big vision.
  4. Put on your own oxygen mask first– Organizations will only go as far and as high as the personal health of the leader. Pay attention to your own sustainability habits such as: getting adequate rest, cultivating a life outside of work, prayer, learning, etc.
  5. Practice the Pareto principle– Give attention to those 20% of activities that bring 80% of your results.
  6. Tap into experts– Take time every week to tap into the expertise that others have that will help you to avoid common pitfalls and leverage winning principles, whether that be in your finances, your marriage, your professional development or your faith journey.
  7. Take a long-term approach to issues– Most issues in our personal lives and organizations require a long-range action plan. We only frustrate ourselves and others when we expect a quick fix. Share responsibility for the issue rather than expecting one person to come up with all of the solutions. Build a multi-year plan rather than caving in to the urgent.

To be honest, sustainability can often be elusive as there are many factors that work against it. However, if you give yourself permission to make daily decisions in the direction of sustainability, you will be glad that you took small and large steps to work smarter not harder!



PS- To learn more about transferable principles for personal and organizational sustainability check out the great resource developed by Mark Devries entitled “Sustainable Youth Ministry” (IVP).

Question: Do you have any other ideas on how people can work smarter? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Photo credit: qwrrty / Foter / CC BY

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