By Sara Harrup
My family owns chickens. Three of them. Tara, Annabel and Katrina. One dedicated to each of our children. They are delightfully social animals. We don’t intend to eat them. They lay eggs which we eat with gratitude.
Katrina was recently attacked by a dog and wounded very badly. I took her to the vet who stitched her up, gave her pain medication and fluids and sent me home with a warning that she may not walk again as the bite was very close to her spine. So morning and night I sat with Katrina, administering antibiotics, hand feeding her worms, seeds and blueberries (her favourite) and doing a bit of chicken rehabilitation with her weak and mangled legs. Very slowly she improved and then one day she stood up. The next day she started to walk again.
When I told people about Katrina’s plight most people said “I would have chopped her head off and eaten her for dinner!” It never occurred to me to do this, or to put her down without giving her a chance. I firmly believe that having brought her to our home as our pet, and given my daughter ownership of her, that we owed her a service and I owed my daughter an opportunity to see if she would get better.
And so it is with most things in life and work. Just as I was prepared to conjure up a bit of chook physiotherapy and pay the price of the vet bills and my time on a bird, we are all ready to pay a price for what we want in life and work. Some of us are prepared to sacrifice a high salary to do a job that we love, or leave a good job that pays the bills to care for a child or relative. Some of us will sacrifice our health to assist our career progression, or sacrifice a friendship in the name of a new romance. On the work front we may stretch ourselves and our teams to the limit to take on a new contract, or put ourselves in situations where we are working right on the edge of our professional skills set in order to break new ground.
My thinking around all this is that sometimes we are not cognisant of what we are sacrificing. We don’t know how much our endeavours in one area will cost us in another. We are all familiar with the plight of those who work so hard they never see their family, or who travel so much they never eat a home cooked meal. Sometimes our decision making is driven by the need to satisfy our ego, self-confidence and wallet. Sometimes it is driven by the notion that we have no choice. Many organisations plough ahead with a new project or program because they are afraid to miss out (on the turf and on the money), without giving a thought to whether it fits with their strategy or will nearly kill their staff.
As you travel through life this year from both an individual and organisational perspective, consider how much your actions in one area might cost you in another. Make fully informed decisions based on all the ripple effects that might occur. In your organisation consider whether your decisions fit with your current strategy. Sometimes that might mean you are prepared to pay the price. A year of hard work to get a new business idea, program or project off the ground. A career move that means you start at the bottom of the ladder in a new area. Or a bit of chook TLC for a little girl’s pet.
About Sara: Sara Harrup is a Cause & Effective Associate. She is a former not for profit CEO and has first-hand knowledge of the challenges and issues faced by organisations in the sector and the people who work in them. Sara brings this experience and insight to our Leadership Search team.