Leadership is not just what you do but also what you allow. —Tyler Reagin

Ever since I can remember, I’ve been a calendar guy. I love a new calendar – the large white spaces, unfilled and bearing so much potential! I was the only teenager I knew with a Day Timer – then a Franklin Day Planner (paper, of course). And then I discovered the power of digital calendars, synced to wherever I was. 

Glorious.

As technology has progressed, so has my planning. But about a dozen years ago, I heard Dr. Richard Swenson talk about the power of Margin. If you haven’t read his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, I highly recommend it. 

In that powerful book, he wrote:

“Margin is the space that exists between our load and our limits. It is the amount allowed beyond that which is needed. It is something held in reserve for contingencies or unanticipated situations. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. Margin is the opposite of overload.” 

When I heard him explain it, I realized that I had never been intentional about creating margin. It radically changed my perspective on the value and importance of margin.

In his classic book The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, John Maxwell notes the Law of Priorities, which states “Leaders understand that activity is not necessarily accomplishment.” 

Busy does not equal effective. Busy does not equal achievement. 

Leaders, let me meddle a little. Are you being intentional about creating margin in your life? 

Sometimes I schedule appointments with myself. It’s a booked slot on my calendar. It’s time to reflect, write, and think. And it’s many times the most effective meeting I have that day! It’s creating margin for the work that is never URGENT, but is so critically IMPORTANT.

I challenge you – evaluate your calendar, your next actions list, and your priorities. And see if you are intentionally creating margin. 

When crisis hits – and invariably it does – you’ll be so glad you did.

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