by Jim Hinshaw
Just finished a book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, by Richard Swenson. Our pastor quoted form this book a couple of weeks ago, he used it to challenge us to look at our lives in detail. The author, Richard, is a doctor who has practiced all over the world, actually lived on an island called Carriacou, on the north side of South America, part of Granada. The doctor ran a clinic for some time there, it was a third world clinic. No MRI or X-Ray machines, no high-tech labs to do analysis, very little tools to fight infection and treat injuries. Yet he was amazingly happy there, in fact he remembers that time as the only time that he was able to tuck both his sons in bed at night and say prayers with them. Every night. They ate each meal together, went swimming together, it was a good time of life. It was a time when he had margin in his life. Margin, as Richard puts it, is the space that exists between ourselves and our limits. He writes about margin (or the lack thereof) in four key areas of our lives: emotional, physical, financial and time.
It was an interesting read, he shares how his medical business has changed in the last couple of decades. He shared 4 calls from a typical Monday, where he treated a broken arm, post-partum exam, pregnancy exam, and contraceptive counseling. Here is how it plays out these days. The broken arm came from a woman who reported her husband to the police for dealing drugs, she fell running from him, broke her arm. She was twenty-one, her mom died when she was three from a heroin overdose, her father was shot to death by his girlfriend. The six-week postpartum exam was for a twenty-one-year-old mother of three, she left her husband at age sixteen, but has not divorced him yet. Her current boyfriend smokes marijuana on a regular basis. The pregnancy exam was on a twenty-year-old unwed woman about to deliver her first baby, she has a history of sexually transmitted diseases which complicate the pregnancy. Finally, a twenty-eight-year-old woman who wanted birth control pills even though she did not have a partner at the time. In the last year she stabbed herself in the abdomen trying to commit suicide, and has a history of gonorrhea. Bottom line, the doctor’s job today is much more involved in issues that he didn’t see or imagine a couple of decades ago.
Maybe this is specific to his type of work, but he builds a strong case that we are all pulled in new directions these days, our lives are much more complicated, we are more rushed in our businesses and families than ever before. Richard builds a case that our society is headed for a breakdown, we simply have no resources to match the opportunities we are faced with. He paints a gloomy picture on the subject of stress. He does note that stress can be good (buying a home, planning a wedding) or negative, what is important is how stress affects us. Three stress factors that mark this age as a difficult one are as follows: first, because of the huge increase in violent crime, we are more afraid. Second, because of highly advanced technology and how that affects our jobs, we are insecure in our professions. Finally, because of the widespread problems of marriages and divorces, we are more alone. The big difference from the past is that physical labor does not absorb a lot of our attention, but mental work requires us to fully concentrate on the project. Which, if it does not go well, creates stress in our lives.
Back to margin: we have always had to handle changes in our lives and jobs, but in the past we had time and ability to handle the changes. Not so today, we are facing critical deadlines, budget cuts, lack of manpower and resources, all of which contribute to us having full plates, some cases overflowing.
Is there a positive message in the book? Yes, he paints a picture with solutions for our overbooked lives. For emotional margin, he talks about rest, laughing and crying, reconcile relationships, get involved in service to others, 14 ideas in all. For physical margin, he first talks about the things that are killing us, diet, alcohol, drugs and not enough rest. He has 29 ways to improve margin in our physical lives, such as eat a balanced diet, get enough rest (including naps), take personal responsibility for your lives, include exercise as a habit right up to the end and lots more. To increase margin in time, he gives the following ideas. Don’t overcommit, learn to say no, expect the unexpected, plan on interruptions, unplug that TV (OK, so maybe trim down the watching time), plan for free time. 16 ideas in all. Finally, he gives help for our finances. Trim debt, set up savings, pay yourself first, cut up those credit cards, plan on what you need to buy before you go shopping, give freely to those in need. Some of the advice is what we have heard before, but that does not mean it is not important to see it again. Another 16 ideas.
His take on our lives? We can improve our health from being content, from simplifying our lives, improve the balance in our lives, getting more exercise and more rest. Seems simple but not easy. Just to be clear, the author shares a strong Christian slant to life in general, trust me, there are some great ideas no matter what your feelings are about this life. But what is your health worth? Priceless!
Thanks for listening, we’ll talk later.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Upon graduating fromthe University of Missouri at
Rolla, Hinshaw started his
career in the air conditioning
industry. Hinshaw’s background
includes positions as a
manufacturer’s rep, President
of one of the oldest and largest
air conditioning companies
in Arizona, residential startup
specialist for the Carrier
Corporation, and an officer in a
Carrier owned service agency.
training sales, technical, and
management team members with
companies that want to increase
profits and grow to the next
level. He has worked in all areas
of the industry: manufacturer,
distributor, contractor and now
consultant. He has worked
with companies that have sales
in the billions per year and
family owned businesses with
only two employees. He can
help with sales, organizational
issues, marketing, how to set
up the company for improved
profitability, all phases of
He has provided highresults
training for clients from
Calgary, Canada to Adelaide,
Australia. Hinshaw retired from
the contracting business in 1999
when he formed his own training
company, Sales Improvement
to bringing his real-world
experience to help enhance your
sales and marketing efforts.
Hinshaw can be reached
at 602-369-8097, or via email at
And now as an AUTHOR:
“For those who might be
interested, he has a collection
of writings from the last 10
years. Stories of how one person
can ruin a relationship with a
customer, and how one can repair
it! Stories of the loss of service
in America, and how you can
improve customer service today.
Go to the following link for full
details on how to make this
detail/2223484 to check out the
book – first 15 pages are free,
sample before you buy!
For more information
please contact him at Sales
Inc., 1281 E. Magnolia, #D-145,
Fort Collins, CO 80524;
Office Phone: 970-635-5675;
Cell Phone: 602-369-8097, or
visit www.siptraining.com; or on
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