Balance (Issue 1092)

In which we are reminded that, sometimes we have to less of things we like doing in order to do more of what we commit to accomplish.

I’ve just returned from two weeks in Austin, Texas, house-sitting and taking care of my son‘s dog and cat, both interesting creatures. The dog is a six-year-old Australian Cattle Dog, a Blue Heeler. She is wicked smart, funny, strong, loyal, and dominant (as you would need to be if you were herding cattle at knee height) and she needs a LOT of physical work. The cat is a Russian Blue…a bit cranky and formal yet also quite affectionate on his own terms.

Because my son is moving to another city, I expected this would be my last long visit to Austin, so, before I went, I made a dozen-item list of not-to-miss-before-you-leave restaurants and museums I wanted to hit before closing out the family base in Austin. Most important among them the LBJ Presidential Library and the Broken Spoke dance hall for a chicken fried steak and some live music.

I went three for twelve on the list.

Each day. I’d get up around 6:00 AM and do 30 to 45 minutes of email for the business. Then, I’d set up the dog for breakfast and, while she ate, I’d get my walking clothes on. When she finished breakfast, I’d take her out for a one-hour brisk walk. On our return, I would settle in and work on Clarity stuff for four or five hours, then break for lunch and take the dog for a midday 30-minute walk.

I would then do the housework and maintenance I’d agreed to do (which included watering on a schedule almost two-dozen plants and buying, transporting, and distributing in the driveway 13 bags of pea gravel). That would get us to 4 o’clock or so. I would then take the dog to play Frisbee and walk in the woods. At 6:00, I’d feed her dinner. By around 6:30, the cat would show up for food and some brushing time. I’d eat at 7:00 and, once that was done… I was exhausted.

That was the daily drill for two weeks and, while plants and animals flourished, I went 3 for 12 on my list. Never saw the Library. Never made it to the Broken Spoke.

“Dad, you didn’t have to do that much”, my son said during our debrief. “They would have been fine when you went out for a few hours.”

“Yeah,” I thought, “a classic mistake. While I thought I was doing the right thing, I spent too much time taking too much care of ‘current customers’ so ‘I didn’t have time’ for the new opportunities I’d wanted to explore.”

Nick Miller trains banks and credit unions to attract and expand relationships with business clients through better skills, sales strategies, and execution. He is President of Clarity Advantage based in Concord, MA. Additional articles on Clarity’s web site.

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