Friday, October 31, 2014

outside interests

As the leader of an organization, there is always too much to do.  People make demands on your time, budgets need to be looked at, it's important to walk around and talk with people, and then there is the planning and dreaming that needs to take place.  After the energy and excitement around Inauguration last week, I found myself having more time in the office these past few days to "get things done."  While it was good to go through the piles that had built up over time and good to make contact with people throughout the buildings, I found myself missing my morning coffees at Starbucks with new people and outside acquaintances.  As I got on the plane yesterday to come to Minneapolis for a Lutheran Music Program Board meeting, I felt a little guilty about not being in the office, taking care of all of the items listed above.  And then I's good to have outside interests.

On an individual note, having outside interests keep you fresh, introduces you to new people, provides new ideas, and let's you get away form the day-to-day details of the organization.  Having a fresh perspective...being around creative and smart people...using other parts of your brain...being at meetings where you are not in charge...having time to think on the plane or in the car...catching up on sleep in the hotel room...making new friends and relationships.  All of these are good for one's growth and energy, thereby adding to one's leadership capacity and capability.

Having outside interests is also good for your organization.  Consider what you can bring back to the organization after being involved in these outside interests:

  • new ideas from organizations that are different from yours
  • new friends who could possibly become customers or donors
  • new partnerships that build on current or future programs
  • new ways of saying the same thing - a fresh rhetoric
  • opportunities for others in your organization to get involved in outside interests
There is much that can be learned from one's outside interests - both personally and for one's organization.  The trick is balancing the time needed for both.  Perhaps the mix changes during different seasons of one's career or different stages of the organization.  Few people will tell you to spend more time outside your organization - it will probably be up to you to figure out the mix.  Don't be afraid to ask your team if you need to spend more time inside or outside..they will probably be very honest with you.  And here's the final paradox...when you feel as if you are spending too much time on outside interests, you are probably not spending enough...and if you feel you are spending too much time on inside issues, you are probably not spending enough.  It is never a balance - it is an understanding that both are important...both will take more time than you have...and both need to be managed.  Enjoy your outside interests!

1 comment:

Mr. Black said...

Not only is it good and healthy to have outside interests, it is good to have some regular limits for time spent on the "regular" work as well. That work can consume you and will always be there. I have set some limits on my evening work at home just to be sure that I have a little down time for family or other reading. The two go hand in hand to me.