The word “Margin” has many definitions. In the context of personal development it describes a condition where someone functions at an effective level without maxing out his or her time, energy, money, patience, capacity, etc.
A person operating with little or no margin is constantly drained. A person operating with sufficient margin finds him/herself with resources left over, even after being highly productive. Operating without margin makes one ineffective in the short term, and in the long term will cause total burnout, just as running a machine at full throttle for an extended period will cause a malfunction.
When you’re always racing to get somewhere at the last minute, or consistently arrive late, that’s living without margin. The person who gets there early and can relax or read a magazine while waiting for the appointed time is living with margin.
If someone can afford the luxury model, but goes for the less expensive one instead, that’s margin. To buy something that’s going to make you late on the payment each month is to go without margin.
Eating the last slice of pizza when you’re already full vs. pushing the plate away when there’s still a few more French fries on it (or skipping the fries altogether in favor of the steamed vegetables) … No margin / margin. You get the idea.
Make living with margin part of your life management strategy for growth. Peace and greater productivity, rather than excess anxiety and diminished effectiveness, will result.
The above is used by permission from the book Three Years Of Tuesday Mornings: 156 e-mails about business and life by Steve Fales.