How many emergencies have been created in your life recently due to neglected maintenance? Maybe you were late for an important meeting because your car wouldn’t start. You knew the battery was well beyond its useful life but instead of taking 30 minutes to purchase and have a new one installed, you kept putting it off because you were too busy.
Perhaps your maintenance emergency was a financial one because for years you put off replacing a $10 air filter and now you have to call out a repairman to work on your home air conditioning system.
Have you ever tried driving a car for multiple thousands of miles without changing the oil? Eventually you will ruin the entire motor by simply putting off routine maintenance that, if completed in a timely manner, would save you thousands of dollars and many hours of frustration.
There are many examples of this in the mechanical world but what about within the sphere of leadership? Does the principle of neglected maintenance apply to our effectiveness as leaders?
I believe that it does. Let’s examine at least three ways that neglected maintenance can negatively impact our personal leadership.
- Areas of neglected leadership maintenance never seem important until they do not function. Just like in the example of the car battery, you can be seemingly effective in your leadership until one day you just aren’t because you have neglected to properly maintain essential areas. Some practical examples would be:
- Maintaining a consistent prayer life
- Studying, meditating and personally applying Scripture
- Taking time to rest and restore mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally
- Areas of neglected leadership maintenance are not always exciting to work on. Just like changing the oil in your vehicle is not as exciting as getting a custom paint job or installing a great after-market DVD player or stereo, the oil is a far more critical issue. The same is true in leadership. For example, working on things like follow-through and consistent communication are less fun than attending conferences or dreaming about big ideas. While the latter have their place, it is attention to the less exciting maintenance details that actually allow us to move on to greater, healthier places.
- Areas of neglected leadership maintenance require discipline and consistency. You don’t change the air filter in your home air conditioning system once every five years. You have to schedule this maintenance detail every three months. This requires attention to detail. Most areas of neglected maintenance within our areas of leadership are not difficult to accomplish, the hard part is simply remembering to do them in the midst of the chaos and busyness that characterizes our daily operations. We simply forget how important these little details are until they have been neglected long enough to create a crisis.
Don’t become a victim of neglected leadership maintenance. Take the time today to evaluate the little things that have been overlooked and may become the big things if they do not receive some attention soon.