A few months ago I visited Polyface Farm in southern Virginia. Polyface is a family-owned, sustainable farm and its owner, Joel Salatin provides a lot of education on what it takes to bring a farm to its full potential.
During the two-day seminar, we talked a lot about letting animals do more of what they want to do and I learned a bit more about the natural tendencies of my cattle. It turns out that cows have a genetic predisposition to turn right. They’re also prone to following light, going from dark spaces to those they can see better.
So I figured out some ways I can reconfigure my barns and cattle chutes to put my cows more at ease and stop them from fighting with me so much.
And that got me thinking about the quote “There’s no mission without margin.” By giving my cows more freedom, more margin, to do what they are prone to do, it helps me complete whatever mission I’ve set out to do involving them.
Everyone needs some wiggle-room to succeed. We need a little bit of freedom to get things done, even when it feels like we should be filling up our lives to every corner.
Those 80-hour work weeks may seem like they’re necessary to get everything done, but work without rest and time to play results in diminishing returns and the second set of 40 hours doesn’t produce nearly the quality and effectiveness of work as the first half.
We need margin – room to breath and, like my cows, we need to feel like we’re not being forced down an unyielding path or our minds and bodies start fighting back, even if we don’t intend to.
Giving ourselves a little more freedom and learning more about our natural tendencies can prevent burnout and make our lives better in general. So the next time you think about putting on your blinders and powering through a long work week, it might be worthwhile to pause and ask, “Do I need more margin to complete this mission?”