What I’d like you to do is consider that you are your ecosystem. If you think about yourself as an ecosystem, an ecosystem is comprised of habitats – the natural homes in which we live. What we need to be able to do is to be able to respond to changes in those habitats.
The Four Habitats Defined
I think about the ecosystem each of inhabits as comprised of four different kinds of habitats.
- We have a personal habitat, our home where we live – a place to store our things. It is here that we grow our family, we sleep, we eat and we drink. It’s a place to rest and recover from the other things that we do in the world.
- We have also a professional habitat. When we wake up and prepare for the day ahead, we metaphorically step into our professional habitat. We put on our suit and tie (or dress) and we prepare ourselves to head off for the day to engage with the nature of our work.
- We then enter an organisational habitat: our workplace. This is the sort of environment where we can come together and, in a coordinated way, participate in making a difference to something that’s meaningful to us in the world.
- Finally, we have a global habitat: the community in which we live, the economy in which we participate, the environment that is the entire planet. When you’re taking holidays you’re often away enjoying the environment. This habitat is also part of the community groups that we participate in, our church, our local tennis club – all those kind of social connections that we make.
Investing in the Four Habitats – A Portfolio Approach
The four habitats are the natural homes in which we live. If you think about it from an investment point of view, the average person’s investment portfolio is a bit out of balance. We talk about a concept of work/life balance, but it’s a bit of an enigma. It implies that we have work on one hand and then there’s the rest of stuff called our life.
I prefer to think about these four habitats, almost like asset classes in your investment portfolio. If you want to have a balanced portfolio, then you want to make sure you’re investing in different asset classes and getting a good return on those investments.
If you look at the typical executive they’re overweighted in the organisational habitat. They’re investing a lot of their time and energy with the expectation that they will be rewarded and get a lot of satisfaction from their organisational habitat. If we understand that something like a primary relationship in our life with our husband, wife or life partner – is something that we’re trying to sustain so that it can help sustain us, then it’s an area that we may need to be investing more time and resources into.
So it’s really looking at the portfolio of how we currently invest our time, energy and attention and seeing where we might need to reweight that portfolio both on an ongoing basis but then also on a month-to-month or quarter-to-quarter basis in terms of planning for the next period.
- Where do I really want to focus energy and attention in my life?
- What kind of things do I want to improve or sustain that contribute to the overall picture?
- What is my capacity to perform optimally in each of these four different habitats that comprise my ecosystem?
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