"Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence." — Vince Lombardi
Walking the dog this morning, and listening for the first strains of the Eastern Meadowlark, which arrived following a heavy (literally) snowfall on Sunday, I found myself thinking about the balance we strive to find in seeking our ideal state. What I mean is, I think we all have an ideal where we want to be—that state in which we are doing all of the things that we know keep us healthiest in mind, body and soul. But for the most part, we don't operate consistently at that level.
And, as I stood and listened, and whistled the meadowlark's song back to it, I thought of the difference between those highest highs—those times of near-perfect functioning—and the varying lows we find in ourselves—those times when we feel we are as far from our ideal as we can get.
It feels great to reach those highs, but we mostly operate somewhere in the middle. And although I was thinking in terms of my own healthy habits, I think this applies pretty much across the board: in the work we do in the world, in the facilities you operate and manage.
Think about it: There are days at work when you are in the zone, right? Somehow, you manage to accomplish in a matter of hours things that would ordinarily take days to push through. Those days are great, but for the most part, I don't think most folks operate at that level. We strive for it. We hope for it. But getting there is another thing. Sometimes it's our own fault. (We just. can't. get. motivated.). Other days, it seems an avalanche of interruptions is lying in wait: As soon as we start getting things done, the first bit tumbles, and next thing you know, a day has come and gone and the to-do list has only gotten longer.
I would imagine the same goes for the parks, rec centers, aquatic centers and other places you manage. You strive for the days when everything hums like a finely tuned machine: mechanical systems run smoothly, programs get filled up with people eager to enjoy them, and not a thing goes awry.
For myself, I've been thinking about what to do when I'm not at my highest level of functioning. Since I spend the most time at that slightly lower level, it occurs to me that it might be helpful to define what, exactly, that means. What's the minimum I need to do to feel well in body and mind? What line do I have to stay above in order to avoid self-recrimination?
I'm still working on that list, but I think that once you figure out that baseline, it's easier to know when you can push beyond, and when to maintain.
Now it's your turn! Think about your daily work and the daily operations of your facility. Do you have a baseline that has to be reached for things to function smoothly? Once you figure out how to keep things running at that level, how do you add one more thing to make it even better?