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A question of balance…

Optimize Blog - September 9, 2011 - 0 comments

It was interesting to see the “National Day of the Pedestrian” held last weekend in Bolivia where all motorized forms of transport – including public transport – were banned from cities all across the country on Sunday.  Two million cars were taken off the streets in nine cities, according to officials cited by Reuters news agency.
President Evo Morales’ says he wants to raise awareness about the environment but it comes at a time when his government is facing criticism over plans to build a highway through the Amazon rainforest.
The recent protests against the highway have been an embarrassment for Mr. Morales, who is a prominent advocate of indigenous rights and the protection of the planet.  The government says the route will promote much needed development, and says it will take measures to protect the rainforest.
Activists say the construction of a road through the Isiboro-Secure National Park, a rainforest reserve, will encourage illegal settlement and deforestation.  The Bolivian Vice-President, Alvaro Garcia Linera, said the government wanted to achieve a balance between development and conservation – no easy feat of course.
Achieving balance is one of the most prominent personal and business dilemmas.  Clearly, it is a broad goal and  ‘achieving balance’ can relate to many things – from our efforts to balance resource requirements with costs, to finding balance between our professional and home lives.
If we are honest, we live in an unbalanced world.  At one level, our personal lives are getting more unbalanced – there is ‘a lot to do but not enough time to get it all done’. At another level, the ongoing failings of  governments to find balance in today’s advanced economies have caused global economic illness, dissatisfaction and political clashes.
Being in a state of imbalance causes us to feel under pressure – even overwhelmed.  This is an untenable state and we need to do something about it.  Unfortunately, though, one of the paradoxes of ‘time’ is that the busier we are, the more we need to take time to step back and examine how we are using our time.  Yet, few of us are able to do this and we get caught in what Stephen Covey calls “The Urgency Addiction.”
The solution is to force yourself to stand back, take a holistic view and adopt a longer term planning process.  When you do step back from day-to-day activities and force yourself to prioritize on a weekly, monthly or annual basis,  your activities become tied into a much broader and more strategic perspective and become more balanced.
The heart of effective leadership is identifying the ‘important but not urgent’ activities.  At the same time a leader must realize that just because no one is yelling at the moment or no deadline is pressing and because these activities demand creative thinking and discipline, they must not be overlooked or given only minimum attention. These are highly leveraged activities and investing the time needed to work on them today will avoid any imbalance tomorrow.  There needs to be balance between the urgent activities and those that are important with greater long term pay-back.
This is at the core of leadership success and is the essence of a successful life.  But, like the Bolivian dilemma, it’s not easy to achieve.  Get started by making a list of the tasks that you have in front of you and identify those important but not urgent tasks.  Set aside some time today to work on those tasks – the rewards will be surprising…

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