I re-learned a lesson this weekend about “extra.”
We had an amazing team of 45 volunteers in blue t-shirts for the FREEDOM TOUR Prologue. Nearly 100 cyclists on two routes, and the whole thing ran smoothly. Smiles everywhere.
One of those volunteers made a little sign to stick inside the lid of the supply tub for each aid station. Simply told the crew what was there, along with emergency #’s and other info.
The sign wasn’t required. Most stations would have been fine without it. The phone list was handy when one station reported a minor incident, but for most it was an extra.
In the short-term, “extra” seems wasteful. The short-term values efficiency and profit. Why spend additional time and money on extra that might not be needed?
Another term for extra is “margin.” Systems, and lives, with no margin are great as long as everything runs perfectly. One bump, though, knocks everything out of whack. No resiliency.
Those little signs, and so many other thoughtful things done by volunteers, added margin to the day. They made room for folks to relax because it didn’t need to be perfect. They created space to have fun, care for each other, and create the memories that almost always happen in the margins.
We can cut to the bone, make sure there’s no extra. Then we can fuss about keeping it all in line and on track. Of course, something always happens, and we’re left scrambling to fix a problem we created by being overly efficient. Or we can leave some space for for the unexpected stuff that always happens.
Out blue-shirt team reminded me that extra isn’t waste. Extra leaves room to relax and enjoy. On bike rides, and in life.