Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Leadership Inventory, Keeping Your Shelves Stocked

You walk up to the line of grocery buggies, take yours and wheel down the fresh produce aisle of your favorite grocery store. Then it hits you. The once full shelves only have few and sparse items on them. And the few things that are there are drooping and decidedly not fresh. The whole store is virtually empty. There’s no inventory on the shelves.

Approaching a clerk, you comment, “What’s going on here? The shelves are empty. How am I supposed to do my shopping?” “New policy, ma’am,” she announces. “We only restock when the item is sold out.”

“But you can’t run a grocery store like that. You need stock on the shelves. You don’t know when I’m coming in. If there’s nothing there for me to pick up, what do I do?”

“Sorry, Ma’am. That’s the way it is.”

It’s almost unthinkable.

But, don’t we often run our lives in the very same way as that grocery store. We have no stock on the shelf, no personal inventory of extra. We have a demand and we go reaching to our shelf to take something down and there’s nothing left. There is no margin for anything to go wrong, no margin for someone to demand one more thing. We live life on the edge.

  • There is no reserve of emotional energy. One wrong incident is too much and we can’t handle it.

  • There is no reserve of money. One emergency bill is too much and we are in financial trouble.

  • There is no reserve of personal time. One extra demand at work is too much and we blow our top.

  • There is no reserve of love and communication and our relationships spiral from needy to needier.

And the list goes on, unique to the individual.

Often when we go reaching to the shelf for something that isn’t there, we fall into the trap of managing our image or performing to give the appearance that it is there. This only further squanders our emotional reserves and puts us on a sure path to overload.


  1. Identify the types of reserve you need in your life. Write them down. Have you had them before? How did you lose them?

  2. Commit to putting stock back on the shelves. Create a reserve to fall back on. Determine not to run everything to the edge. Build in the reserve to provide a cushion against the anticipated and the unanticipated. It may take some time, but it will be worth the effort.

  3. Tell the truth. It is the truth that sets us free. It’s not that we set out to deceive others. We just don’t admit the whole story to ourselves about our situation. Seeing yourself and your situation with clarity will pave the way for solutions.

  4. Enlist others. Get the help of family to set priorities. Make changes at work. Develop a strategy to work differently. If need be, engage a coach to focus on where change is needed and how to introduce it.

  5. Set some boundaries for people and things. Don’t let everyone and everything control you. You take some responsibility for your own well being and act on it.

  6. Take definite steps each week to keep your levels of reserve up. When demand comes, you will be ready. The shelves will be full and fresh.

Determine today to put some inventory back on the shelves.

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