Organization Brings Comfort


Mark Householder discusses why organization and structure offer comfort.

Last Saturday was move-in day at The Ohio State University for our son Garrett. Important context—OSU is one of the largest universities in the country with 63,000 total students and 7,000 freshman.  We had little to no picture of what this would look like, but we were anxious about sending our last child into a lot of unknowns. We were hoping for a hassle-free day and positive experience.

Thirty minutes into the experience my wife shared this observation with me, “Organization brings comfort.” And that comfort felt good. This turned out to be a very good day. The mass of people was organized, lines were moving and no one was  complaining. My experience during the day started me to think about the value of organization and structure. At Ohio State, somebody owned organization and created structure for the day, and I am glad that somebody did.

Positive outcomes from this experience:

  1. Movement was created. OSU sent out a survey a few days after move-in day. I remarked that the time it took to get moved in was 50 percent less than the time I expected to be there. There were lots of people getting their goals accomplished.
  2. Order was apparent. There were lots of people on campus that day, but people seemed to know what they were doing and where they were going.
  3. Distraction was eliminated. Due to good structure, I was able to be relationally present and enjoy my family for the day.
  4. Well-being was experienced. If you have ever sent a son or daughter off to college, you are looking for assurances. The structure and organization gave us a sense of well-being as we drove home that day. I can still hear Marianne say, “Organization brings comfort.”
  5. Freedom was created. Since we knew that there was a master plan for the day, we felt the freedom to divert, do our own thing for a while and then enter back into the structure.

Creating structure:

  1. Envision the outcome. How do you want to feel as a result of structure? How do you want others to feel as a result of good organization? And then, what critical steps are essential to put in place?
  2. Prepare for headwinds and diversions. They will come. Get ready. No one bats 1,000.
  3. Identify where lack of structure has occurred. Are there internal obstacles? What behaviors have triggered getting you off track?
  4. “Structure is more than organization. It is critical internal capacity.” (Dr. John Townsend)
  5. Get help. Lots of structure comes from the outside. Invite it from people who love you and care for you.
  6. Be content with incremental behaviors. There is nothing wrong with baby steps, especially when you take many in a series moving in the same direction.
  7. Identify high-result behaviors. What have you done in the past that has created good structure? How can those behaviors be multiplied?

Where do you need greater structure? Hint: Look at places where there is misery and frustration. What action will you take today?

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