I told this story to a number of coaching clients this week and each time it had significant impact. So I thought I would share it with you.

Many decades ago, a preacher and his wife had a ministry feeding the poor. As the preacher became more famous, so more and more poor people came to be fed, so much so that there was often not enough food to feed everyone that came to be fed.

So the preacher’s wife started skipping meals and eating less so she could feed more poor people. Over time, because she was not eating enough, she became so malnourished and frail she eventually became sick and died.

Her dedication to the poor meant in her ministry, she was able to feed tens of thousands of people. As admirable as that was, it was her dedication that killed her. What would have happened if each day she had fed less people and looked after her health so she could have continued the ministry for another 15-20years? She may have fed hundreds of thousands of poor people, built a team who could do more than she could have by herself, as well as spend many more meaningful years with those most important to her.

Many leaders I know are so dedicated to their work, their teams and organisations, the hours they work begins to take a personal toll. The question you need to ask is, what is more important? Achieving more in the short term, or achieving exponentially more in the long term? Helping more people today or helping many more people tomorrow?

If you are like most leaders and desire to last the distance, you need to commit to doing less in the short term, in order to do more over the long term.