Are you living on the edge?

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One thing this pandemic has revealed is lack of margin. I don’t think it’s overstatement to say that our whole society has been shown to lack margin.

I’m hardly qualified to speak to lack of margin in our government’s use of resources, economic structures, and healthcare systems. But I can say a word or two about personal margin, something that applies to all of us in some form or fashion. 

Margin in health, relationships, and resources. 

If we’re hanging by a thread in any area of our lives, this current crisis has revealed exactly where and how strong or weak that thread is.

Part of stewarding our health, relationships, and resources well is building in plenty of margin in each of these areas.

Financial or Resource Margin

I’ve been annoyingly pushing my kids to handle their money with a ‘Give – Save – Live’ approach to the little bits of cash I give them. While this sounds good and holy (give first is pretty righteous, right?), I told them that one of the biggest reasons to do this is to give themselves breathing room. 

When you give 10%, save 10%, and only live on 80%, you’re training yourself to be better than 95% of human Americans (just a guess at the percentage). Most all of us either live or have lived at some point on 100% or more of what we make – through the magic of overextending ourselves with credit cards and other consumer debt.

Learning to give and save a total of 20% forces you to learn to live on less money than you actually have available to you. It builds margin. It allows you to weather a storm when the storm blows through your neck of the woods. 

Yes. COVID has hit some people in financially devastating ways that no amount of margin would have cured. But for many, it’s simply revealing bad financial habits.

Health Margin

Not to get overly serious, but how many people would love to have made good on a few of those promises to exercise or eat better 3-5 years ago? How many Type-2 diabetics, non-congenital heart disease sufferers, and others who battle preventable health problems are suffering from greater fear right now because they have no  margin in their health? 

They are the ones that are told to stay home and keep sheltering-in-place regardless if the general population is told they can pop out for groceries here and there.

Again, there are stories across the spectrum where margin or no margin, this disease has been fatal.

In the end, though, we all would love to make sure we’re taking better care of ourselves. My jogging shoes have been getting a lot more work lately. I still suck at eating, though. I gots to work on that.

And Relationship Margin…. 

How many wished we would have taken more effort to nurture our marriages, relationships with kids, or even friendships before this thing hit? How many of us, now that we can’t as easily avoid the family or overwork or over-commit outside the home, would love to have had grown more skin over those last nerves everybody’s getting on? 

As I’m writing this, I’m getting a little sad. It’s not meant to depress you or me. It’s meant to encourage us to learn. I use ‘us’ because I’m learning harcore right now.

Heck, right now as I’m writing this, made a snarky remark to one of my kids about spilling milk from his cereal bowl on the way up the stairs… “Surprise! You tried to eat while you walk up the stairs again and made a mess????” This is the very type of comment that my daughter confronted me about yesterday. It becomes old and rude and makes them feel bad. I’m stressed, so I quickly get into snarky dad mode. 

Hopefully, as you’re in a position to simply learn from this pandemic vs. being seriously financially or physically damaged by it. If so, I hope you’ll join me in working this margin angle.

Are you “flush with cash”?

The best mental picture for margin to me is the individual who might have been flush with cash when the real estate market crashed back in 2007 and 2008. That dude – he could have bought up whole city blocks. He had margin. He wasn’t riding the same waves up and down as everybody else, living right on the edge or above means. The crisis came and it became an opportunity vs. a problem.

That’s what we want to be. “Flush with cash” in as many areas of our lives as we can be.

Where do you need more margin? Where are you thin on resources or in your health or in your relationships?

Currently Reading: The Vision Driven Leader – 10 questions to focus your efforts, energize your team, and scale your business. Just starting so I can’t give definitive feedback, although everything Mr. Hyatt puts out is well-thought out and actionable.

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