Today, on this Memorial Day in America, many citizens will pause to remember the people who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Because of their supreme sacrifice many Americans have the privilege of serving others within an organizational context. On this day of reflection, I’d like to contemplate how we can each work to stay rooted as we walk out our individual organizational service roles.
To begin, let your workplace position(s) connect you to others rather than serve as a barrier. Set aside time for socializing one to two times a week, and stick to those plans as you would a project plan. On a related note, do things to maximize your health and re-energize each day. Eat properly. Exercise regularly. Get enough sleep. Meditate or pray to reduce stress. Your body will break down under pressure if you don’t take the time to provide for its needs; so take the time.
Tension builds in our bodies throughout the day so every hour or two relax for a few minutes by walking, talking with a co-worker, or implementing stress relieving techniques customized to your personal needs. Occasionally try a change of scenery. For example, during your lunch break you might choose to visit an unusual venue, a place you would not normally take the time to go to but which refreshes your body, mind, and/or spirit.
No matter how grand your title within a particular workplace, you are not your position and it is not your excellence; but rather a tool to execute your excellence through. As a way of remaining grounded, consider decorating your office (whether a corporate or home office) with mementos and personal photos. Here’s a novel idea, just say no. Don’t take on more work than you can handle, set unrealistic deadlines, or allow yourself to get caught up in any end-of-day project that is not on fire when you are preparing to leave for the evening.
Now here is where it gets tough; ask for assistance when appropriate to do so. Delegating will save you time and stress from overload regardless of the environment you find yourself in. If you’re heading up a project, outline team members’ responsibilities, set deadlines, schedule periodic updates, and ensure members have the necessary resources and knowledge to execute.
Delegating is not only a gift to your sanity; it is a gift to others. Now “How can passing along work to others be a gift?” you may ask. The truth is that when we provide others with opportunities to use their talents or abilities we bless them by allowing them to do the work they were created to do. There is empowerment in helping others and we should not selfishly withhold all the empowerment for ourselves. One caveat, when delegating accountability, never shirk your responsibility, as a leader, for ensuring the team has the necessary training, experience, and capabilities to execute to the standards you are requiring.
Tied to delegation is the idea of working smarter, not harder. For example, streamline the tasks that are most stressful to you. Whenever possible try to leave the office every day by a reasonable time. As you aim for a healthy work/life balance you’ll see and enjoy the benefits and realize that the strategies you practice also pertain to the community, place of worship, and home workplaces. Within each of your workplaces, take the time to review what you accomplished each day and create to-do lists for the next day as appropriate. This will reduce stress and give you a sense of order and completion. Finally, please remember to say “thank you” to people who contributed to your ability to serve others.