By Michael Gunther
Have you ever felt that you were too busy, juggling many balls in the air while trying to balance on a tight rope? That’s how I’m feeling so far this year and it’s only been seven weeks. I don’t think this is uncommon for business owners who are actively involved in growing their businesses as well as committed to volunteering in the community in which they live or work.
I recently became the chairman of the board of directors of our local chamber of commerce. This is a volunteer position – the role involves setting direction for the future, working closely with various stakeholders in the community and leading one of the top chambers in the country. Being a new role for me, it has consumed more time than I anticipated – as any new position or job might. I’m trying to remember that I have other roles I must also play such as business partner in my own business, spouse, friend and family member.
First of all, I have to admit that I have asked myself, ‘why and how did I do this to myself?’ I’m already consumed with leading my own company on some aggressive growth plans this year with new offices, new online products and a small business best practices study, and now I’ve taken on what sometimes feels like an additional part time job.
I have always volunteered for non-profits, something I was taught to value very early on by parents who were actively involved in helping and supporting various non-profits. And I’m not complaining, I’m just trying to be more contemplative, as I’ve even had a hard time channeling my creativity to write this article.
I have to remind myself to look at what this situation is already teaching me, and hopefully, what I’m learning I can pass on to others – like trying to maintain the balance between my work and volunteer activities without hindering the performance of either one.
I’m truly enjoying the new role as chamber chair – I know the projects and activities we’re involved with will have a lasting impact on our community. In addition, I have the opportunity to work with incredible leaders within our community. I’m already seeing my leadership and management skills stretching and expanding. How could my skills not expand when I’m surrounded by such experienced, highly successful people on my board?
The other lesson I’m learning while balancing on this tight rope and juggling all these balls, is that I have a strong safety net underneath me. This “net” being my strong and talented team at my own company. They have picked up any pieces I may have dropped or had to let go of because of my new time commitments and they’ve supported me to make both our company and my new role at the chamber successful. Without a doubt, they’ve made this transition much easier. The lesson I’m learning is to surround myself with a committed team and let go. Let them flourish without having to be involved in every aspect of the business.
I can already see my delegating skills getting a strong workout both in my own company and the chamber. Leading is about assisting in setting the direction but also facilitating the participation of others to get the job or goal accomplished.
The Bottom Line
Are you overwhelmed with too much to do? Step back and begin to think about how you’re spending your time. Can you begin to determine what critical items require your focus and what items you can delegate as well as those that truly are not worth you spending your time on?
I don’t question my decisions about my involvement with my volunteer activities, but I do have to make sure that I continue to focus on developing my skills through this process so that I can safely get to the other side of the rope as I am juggling all the balls in the air.