How I Maintain Margin in the Madness of Isolation

No one said this was going to be easy. Watching on as 250,000 Americans die around you can take a toll on you. As politicians fight amongst themselves, throwing their weak to the wolves, we are left to fend for ourselves the best we know how. Sometimes, that’s just not enough. I get it. It can be exhausting. We don’t sleep, we certainly are not resting, and we are anxious about tomorrow. While worry never added value to anyone’s life, it’s difficult not to get in that framework as you wake up tired every morning.

It doesn’t have to be that way. 

I wish there was a magic pill for this. While the vaccine trials are showing promising signs, with 90% efficacy from multiple drug companies, it will still take a significant amount of time for the U.S. and thus the world to experience the degree of immunity we need to return to normal life (whatever that means). So if we’re going to be stuck in this new normal for another four to six months, what can we do to alleviate the pressure we are placing on ourselves? No magic pills here, but I do have a few things that are working to create margin in my life.

Giving Gifts

There’s this book that discusses how couples are uniquely made, which is crazy hilarious, because how could couples be uniquely made if everyone basically fits into five categories. No shade, because this plays into this whole giving gifts thing. One of the ways I am wired is to give and receive gifts. Basically, I want it to be Christmas every day of the year, which is crazy cool because I was born on Christmas. Throughout quarantine, I have had this prevailing thought that if I could make my friends smile, I would do whatever was necessary to make it happen. So I leaned into my wiring, and gave some gifts. Here’s specifically what I did:

  • Brought a group of friends to race BMW cars and SAVs at the track in Thermal, including my mentor and his son.
  • Bought the new iPhone 12 Pro and gave my iPhone X to a friend who was still rocking an iPhone 6.
  • Sent some super sweet gifts to a friend who’s kid just had a birthday. Mag Genius rocks!

Smiling is everything. Putting a smile on a face that was otherwise stressed was such weight off my shoulders, as well as a blessing to others. Here’s the deal: I do not say these things to puff myself up. Really, who gives a rip about that? I say this because this is how I am wired, so it’s my duty to myself to lean into it. It’s what makes me, me. So I have to do it. And side benefit: friends get some much needed relief.

Staying Significant

It’s no secret that significance ranks high on my StrengthsFinders. Being in the room where it happens is what stokes my fire. I want to be seen, give input, and be accepted for what I bring to the table. But can I be honest? This has been a lot more difficult during this season of Covid. While I am still in the room, that room is often virtual, not as consistent, and as an extrovert, it’s been a drain on my soul. But I know my strengths and know that in order to be me, I have to prioritize my voice in rooms that need it, in order to continue to be me, and bring value to others. Do you know your strengths and how they are intrinsically tied into how you feel about yourself? Man; I highly recommend seeking this out for yourself, not so you know you are on the right path (as if there is such a thing), but so you know how to stay true to you.

Taking Time

Time is the one thing you can never get back. It’s also the thing I discuss most often with my top-billing clients. The most affluent, powerful, and seemingly in-control clients are the ones who want to know more about margin in my time than anything else. I used to speak at conferences all the time, book myself out for consult jobs that required travel, and it just became too much. When my wife and I decided to start a family, I made a commitment that family will always get priority. While that has been easier said than done at times, it’s stayed the heartbeat of who we are as a family of four. It’s also why my kids still like me as teenagers.

Outside of cutting my days off between four and five every day, participating in their extra-curricular activities, and focusing on them on the weekends, I do this one thing at the start of every week: I go to the beach or hike with the family every Monday morning. I have found that the more we spend time outdoors when we start our week, the more we are focused throughout the day. It’s our center, and we notice a difference if we do not take this time together.

You can’t have quality time without quantity time.

Margin is magic. But it’s not discussed enough or made a high enough priority for leaders, and people are talking about it. My buddy Brendan recently tagged me in a post on Twitter and I broke my social sabbath for a spell, so I could weigh in for a minute. Some good friends were discussing margin, and he dropped a link to my margin series on time, relationships, and money. So why get back into socials when you’re on a break? Look: it’s easy enough to ignore people on social media (and I highly recommend it during election season), but it’s difficult for me to ignore my friends discussing something I hold so near to my heart. Margin isn’t just some idea that I put out there to get good clicks; it’s what makes me, me. And it’s one of the things that I love discussing, so I can help my friends smile more with the ones they love.

Margin doesn’t happen naturally. It’s not easy to come by. And it certainly doesn’t just start itself. You have to constantly create margin in order to maintain it. I start by saying no to the things that don’t have my name on it, and saying yes to the things that bring me more time, relational equity, and financial fluidity. I do this by knowing myself, and prioritizing what comes next. Now here’s the hard part: What will it take for you to create and maintain margin in your life?

PS: Call or text that family member or friend. Isolation sucks, and they need company.