In the last session, we unpacked some thoughts on productivity versus relationships. It is possible to have a good, healthy rhythm in your life, where you’re accomplishing great things and attending to all the important relationships in your circle of influence.
I want to give you some practical advice on how you can find that greater balance, to find that place where it does not have to be productivity versus relationships but can actually be productivity and relationships in balance with each other.
The first step toward this balance is to: Grow Your Awareness.
Grow your awareness of where you stand on the spectrum of productivity and relationships. At the end of the last blog, I asked you to identify three people closest to you and have a serious conversation about your productivity and balance in life. If you haven’t done that yet, let it be your first step today. Many times we are blinded to how we really come across to people. These are the people who have a good read on what reality looks like in your life when it comes to productivity and relationships.
You have to make sure that you are open to whatever they say, even if it is not what you want to hear. I know that’s tough; yet, it is what you really need in this process. So, talking with them, if they are truthful, can provide you with valuable knowledge in understanding where you really are in this. You get the feedback from this experience – and it will make you move in closer to people in your inner circle with vulnerability and transparency.
Again, I know this is tough for some of you. However, this simple exercise is a first step – and it is important to start with small and simple steps. Please make sure you do this. And, please don’t just talk to your spouse; talk to a few others as well. It’s amazing how our spouses can even become desensitized to how we're coming across to others because they are around us all the time.
Once you’ve identified what side of the spectrum you are on, the second step is this: Make Decisions That Go Against Your Natural Grain.
My natural tendency is to move away from people and move towards productivity. I am a highly prudent person. I get engrossed in my work. I have a high task mastery. I can also enter into a high perfectionism mode. Because of this, I can accomplish great things. Yet, when I am tired and stressed and not compensating well, I may actually push people away and detach from people in order to continue getting lots of things done.
I’m aware of my tendency to do this, so there are times I need to push off my to-do list. I need to be a little more impulsive and spontaneous. I need to invest in the relationships around me.
I can very easily get lost in my office for hours at a time and never see the light of day. In fact, a lot of times, I enjoy that. However, I also know I need to open my office door at times. I need to walk slowly to the coffee pot at times. I need to talk to others - especially key people in my life and ministry. I may be pushing against my natural grain when I'm doing this, but it is beneficial and necessary.
Your tendency may be opposite. You may be highly social - an extrovert. You may have a high interpersonal sensitivity. You find yourself “investing in relationships” yet having trouble moving the ball down the field, having trouble accomplishing significant tasks on your to-do list.
You also need to push against your grain. Maybe you need to make an appointment on your calendar with your name on it. You may need to schedule uninterrupted periods of time with yourself to work on your to-do list. You need to push against your grain. Give a little sheer willpower to making yourself become a little more structured and productive.
The third and last tip I'll share with you in this session is this: Establish Accountability.
You remember those three people that you did the first exercise with? Those are the people you want to go back to and ask them to hold you accountable as you move toward healthy balance.
God’s plan for our lives involves relationships. Relationships serve all sorts of purposes in our lives – including helping us see ourselves more clearly, and especially to bring some accountability to areas in which we may be weak.
I need people in my life to help me move closer to relationships. I need them to challenge me to connect more and stretch myself more in the area of relationships.
You may need a structured person - your spouse or a friend or co-worker - to bring more order to your life, to call you out when you’re not focusing on the tasks that need to get done. Allow that in your life. Allow them to speak that and do that for you. I promise it will help you!
Whether you’re structured or unstructured, utilizing tools such as phone apps or day planners or other things can really help with productivity. For someone like me, I use them to help manage relationships as well. I actually put reminders in my to-do app to connect with people.
The idea of all of this is that we want to stay out of the ditch. I like to imagine a highway with a drainage ditch on either side. We don’t want to be in the ditch of relationships only nor do we want to be in the ditch of productivity without people and relationships. That doesn’t mean we have to be perfect with it and walk the center line every day. We just need to get on the road of healthy, balanced progress. We must do all we can to just stay out of the ditch!
So here are this blog’s practical questions for you to study and ponder:
What’s one way you can push against your grain to lean toward either relationships
or productivity this week?
Name one person, other than a spouse, you will reach out to for accountability on
pushing against your grain.
Don’t neglect this important activity assignment. Grow your awareness. Push against your grain. Establish accountability. You’ll be well on your way to being a successful relational leader.
Copyright © 2021 Ryan Franklin. All rights reserved.