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What We’re Learning-0
November 25, 2014

What We’re Learning

Over here at Aitken Leadership HQ, we’re learning about boundaries. Boundaries are what we say ‘yes’ to, and what we say ‘no’ to.

I (Geordie) have got a one year-old son at home. I like seeing him when he wakes up in the morning. I like eating dinner with him and my wife at night. Traveling as much as I do has been challenging this past year, and as 2014 draws to an end I’m looking closely at boundaries: what will I say ‘yes’ to in 2015?

David’s at a different stage in his life. His kids are long since grown up (he’d say the jury’s out in my case) but he also wants to travel less.

This last year was full-on, as many companies retooled their leadership in some way, and both David and I were on the road more than we planned. We both need better boundaries to determine what to say ‘yes’ to in 2015.

As consultants, we have limits on what we can personally do. Time and energy are finite. However, and here’s the problem, our desire to serve and to add value are not finite. We can keep saying ‘yes’ to opportunities and never feel ‘done’. Moreover, both David and I have that ‘striving provider’ thing where no amount of working ever feels like quite enough.

It’s available energy vs. identity. But guess what? In the end, energy will always win. Always.

Both David and I are thinking strategically right now. If we’re going to have boundaries – and we have to – then they better be the right ones.

For David, the emerging boundary is only saying ‘yes’ to assignments that involve executive team development. That’s his sweet spot, where he can add the most value in the most efficient way. For me the boundary is not quite so clear. It’s looking like an increased focus on cyclical programs for emerging leaders rather than one-off ‘events’, and shortening overall travel time.

Boundaries are guidelines, not walls. When effectively used, good boundaries allow us to move from ‘I have to’ to ‘I choose to’. We actually have more freedom when we are clear about our boundaries.

None of us have long here on earth, and there’s only so many times we can say ‘yes’. Personally, I’d rather both David and I choose our ‘yes’s wisely. We’ll both last longer. And that’s good for the business.

What will you say ‘yes’ to in 2015?

To our American Friends, we wish a Happy Thanksgiving! Everybody else, have a great week.