Monday, July 21, 2008

Interests vs. Best Interests

I think a lot of the time we get caught serving our immediate interests at work and at home, rather than serving best interests. The simplest example I can think of is how we push ourselves to burnout. Only then do we take time off or sick leave when we can't do it anymore. Why do we not acknoweldge that we're over-extending before we're there? I think we're too focused on serving interests. Stephen Covery describes it as the p/pc balance.

Serving the organization's interests would mean you deliver on everything asked of you, right up to the point where you're not thinking clearly, you're exhausted and you're certainly not strategic. Serving best interests would mean you "govern" your own actions to meet a longer-term result. Even though the things asked of you are limitless, you define a healthy limit and stay within it.

The problem with clearly saying, "I'm drawing a line in the sand so that I can serve the organization's best interests," is that it's also something you can say if you're wanting to avoid a task. Everyone else, especially the person that gave you the assignment, isn't seeing the "ask" as too much or too demanding. They will likely see what you're saying as resistance to a good and true path. It's gut-check time. Are you willing to speak truth to power?

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