After more than 20 years of experience and observation in leadership, I’ve noticed that leaders rarely slow down to take care of themselves.
Sometimes it’s because you feel there’s not enough time in the day to get everything done.
Other times it’s the fear of being perceived as lazy.
Many times it’s because you want to set a good example of hard work ethic for your followers so you don’t give yourself the chance to rest and relax.
Whatever the reason, it’s time to stop this unhelpful (and even dangerous) behavior.
Because you can’t give to others if you’re running on empty.
My publisher and business coach Kary Oberbrunner has a mantra that challenges me daily – “Show Up Filled Up.”
The reality is that you can’t show up filled up if you don’t stop to rest and get a refill!
Maybe you simply need to refill your energy tank.
Maybe you need to refill your intellectual tank.
Maybe you need to refill your relational tank.
Maybe it’s your spiritual tank.
Whatever tank is running on empty, you have to stop and take care of yourself. If you don’t, burnout, health concerns, relationship problems, and more are lurking right around the corner.
I have to admit that I’ve been one of the worst offenders of this, so I’m speaking from experience and to myself as much as anyone else.
Do you know who is the least likely to use all of their paid time off? LEADERS!
Most followers are quick to use up their vacation or sick days. Leaders rarely do.
Do you know who is the least likely to leave the office for a half-day just to get away from it all? LEADERS!
Leadership is hard. Yes, there are many perks and joys that we experience as leaders, but there are also many lows and challenges that drain us. This is why we must take care of ourselves.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your people.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be a model of self-care to others.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll be no good to your friends and family members who you say you value most.
This is not me condemning you, but rather a plea for you to lead yourself better in the area of self-care.
You are too valuable to those who love and follow you.
Life is short.
The work will never end.
Be willing to lay it down and refill your tank with rest and recreation.
One of the most freeing things I read a while ago was that Winston Churchill took full-on naps in the middle of the day during World War II. If a global leader saw the need for self-care in the middle of a war, shouldn’t we do the same amidst our daily grind?
Over the past couple of years, I’ve learned to listen to my body more. I’ve developed the discipline of waking up early to get a jump on the day, but that also means my energy begins to run low mid-afternoon many days. Instead of pressing harder, I listen to my body and either take a 20-30 minute nap or simply step away from my work to clear my head, breathe, and get a change of scenery.
Whatever works for you and your environment, do it.
Leader, please take care of yourself. Your people need you to be at your best and you can’t be that if you continue to press the accelerator constantly.
Evaluate your daily schedule.
Are you giving yourself margin to rest and recharge?
Are you taking your paid time off strategically throughout the year?
Whatever adjustments you need to make, please do it for your own sake and for the sake of those you love and lead.
Until next time…make today GREAT!