Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Opportunity has a Cost???

Here's hoping most of your actions and decisions are on purpose. If they are not, or if you (as we often all do) forget that at times... it's great to revisit or teach what the cost of opportunity really is.

The opportunity cost of business success is time away from family and friends (as you have to put in long hours and be accessible 'off the clock' to truly run a successful business)

The opportunity cost then, of being a very present, engaged parent is at the expense of either work or friends, as there is no 'time off' as a parent.

To be a truly successful business leader, parent, and friend then - means to really effectively manage your time, and to prioritize; realizing you can't do it all, all the time.

The opportunity cost of leadership is that over time some people will jade you (those who act selfishly or out of only self-interested motives cost you personally more work, cost the team, they usually end up costing you/ the business money; etc) and most leave oblivious to their negative impact, though they would notice if you neglected them as employees.

The opportunity cost of not being a leader is ...?
THAT is the million dollar question.
As an infant, someone changes your diaper
As a toddler, someone holds your hand as you cross the street
As a youth, someone pays for & drives you to all your sports, school, and activities
As a teen, someone pays for your room & board
As a young adult, we start to realize how much we have to do for ourselves...

- someone still fronted the cash to start the business that allows us a job
- someone still fought and died in a war that allows us to vote in an election to be represented by hopefully responsible politicians
- someone gave birth to us in a hospital in a first world nation that allowed us a world of opportunity that we we born into (ie did nothing to earn)
- someone more responsible will cover our butt if we call in sick, quit with no notice, upset a customer, or don't do a good enough job.

There is an opportunity cost to not being a leader; and it is HUGE.

You'll make less money
You'll leave less of a legacy than you want to
You'll impact fewer people in fewer ways than you'd wish if you could write your life story backwards from your death bed
You'll deserve less in the afterlife; whatever that looks like in your belief system
You'll overcome fewer challenges thus you'll grow less as a person
You'll have fewer highs
You'll have fewer opportunities to learn, thus you'll be less of a teacher to your kids (especially since you'll be less of an example)
You will achieve less of your potential thus you will feel less fulfilled.

The key is to be focused on what you want long term and what you want short term, and if the two conflict - choosing the course that places you on the longer term trajectory. A small example - I want that donut right now, but I want to lose 30 pounds this year. These goals are in direct conflict and choosing the donut now satisfies one immediate goal at the expense of a more important goal in your deep psyche.

Focus on what you want; not what you don't. You may not want to do the extra work that being a leader involves, but what is a worse punishment? Would you rather more work on a daily basis that goes with it more job security and more opportunity, or less work and more ease right now followed by less fulfillment long term and less security leading to a point in your life where you have to work twice as hard just to keep up as opportunities have passed you by but your bills still accumulate?

As a leader, know that you are sacrificing now (and thus plan your balance in other areas of your life) but know that the world needs more people like you.

As a follower, hopefully you learned a little bit about what others do for you and you decide to step up... because those people who knowingly make more work for others and continue to do the same - should be ashamed of themselves and I don't know how such a person could ever truly be happy.

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