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Water Seeks Its Own Level

There's an old saying, “water seeks it’s own level." One of my employees used to say this all the time in reviewing how well her department was or was not doing.

"Water seeks its own level" means that everything will seek its own equilibrium state. When conditions are unstable, changes and readjustments will occur until a state of stability is reached.

She often used this saying in reference to raising the expectations of her staff. People will rise to or fall to your expectations of them. If they are encouraged to do more, show up more authentically, and work with purpose – they will. Some will actually need to be challenged to do so and it is then that you know whether they are committed to the mission of the organization or not.

If they are not committed to the cause, then it’s much easier to release them to follow another path. But, if they are committed, then they can grow even more with intention.

The level of commitment one has will be challenged by circumstances from time to time. Life happens. Health issues, disappointments, family loss, strained relationships, and money issues can all lead to low energy and enthusiasm for the work. At times our water level is low.

When we win that big grant or we’re recognized publicly for an accomplishment and our team, family and finances are in check and doing well, that’s when our water level is high.

The trick is keeping our water level high, when the circumstances aren’t in agreement -- that’s commitment.

Throughout the year, I take a temperature check. This check is both internal and external. Internally, I ask myself a few questions:

1. How am I feeling physically? Am I getting enough sleep? Am I overly stressed. Do I have pain or discomfort in my body?

2. How am I feeling spiritually? Am I connected securely to God? Am I praying, reading my Bible, and allowing my actions to be led by the Holy Spirit?

3. How am I feeling emotionally? Am I happy? Do I have times of joy and laughter? Am I in connection with my loved ones? Are there any relationships that I need to work on?

Externally, I review the key performance indicators at work, which tells me how the business is doing. We look at many KPI’s but I will only list a few here:

1. What is the E/R (expense to revenue ratio) of each department? This tells me how well my organization is doing financially.

2. Operational Cash on Hand – you cannot do good, until you do well, so I need to make sure that my organization has a sufficient amount of money on hand for emergencies to run the day to day business for at least six months.

3. Debt ratio & Debt obligations - simply put, how much long-term (loans) and short term (leases) are there?

4. How many people are being served this month, quarter or year?

5. Employee Retention Rate and Turnover rate. In basic terms “retention” is the proportion of staff who stay and “turnover” is the proportion of staff who leave during a period of time.

I also check the progress of my personal goals, including my health, my connections to my community and loved ones, and my finances:

1. Did I get my steps in for the month?

2. Did I maintain my weight or lose weight?

3. Am I in communication with stakeholders in the community?

4. Am I posting, blogging, writing enough content that resonates with leaders?

5. How often have I spoken to or visited with family and friends?

6. Am I meeting my income and savings goals?

All areas require personal commitment and the only way that I’ve found to keep my level of commitment high is to check in periodically and raise the water level in these areas when necessary.

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