As leaders, we quite naturally spend a great deal of our time and focus taking care of others, taking care of our businesses, our families and our people. So it isn’t surprising that more than a few leaders aren’t so great at taking care of themselves. Why is this kind of self care so tough for so many of us to do? First, we are legitimately busy. I know everyone and their brother likes to say, “oh, I’m so busy,” but the leaders I know, now THEY are busy. When you are busy, it’s easy to shift your needs to the bottom of that very big pile.
It isn’t surprising that more than a few leaders aren’t so great at taking care of themselves.
But here in lies the rub, if you don’t make the time to take care of you, your capacity to help others will diminish in time. You can become tired, the kind of tired a nap or good night’s sleep can’t fix. You get burnt out and even pessimistic which is unusual for people like us with eyes usually fixed ahead on the positives and possibilities. So as leaders, we have to remember that in spite of our sometimes superhuman powers of drive, vision, work ethic and more, we aren’t robots and we need to make sure we fall somewhere on that list of people and things to be taken care of.
As leaders, we have to remember that in spite of our sometimes superhuman powers of drive, vision, work ethic and more, we aren’t robots.
And really, how can we possibly lead others effectively, set a good example, inspire and create an environment where human needs are recognized and supported if we can’t do these things for ourselves first? So think about what your needs are, what are those things that make you feel good, cared for and content? It could be leisurely dinners with your family, a funny movie that gets you laughing and helps you decompress from a stressful day. It might be a commitment to getting to the gym to support your physical health, a pledge to going to bed a little earlier, eat better, get your physical and preventative health checks done or whatever is on your radar for caring for your physical self. For many of us it is nurturing those important relationships that are some of the motivation to lead in the first place. That can mean carving out more time for spouses, partners and children.
Listen, you can’t surf the same wave over and over again without eventually getting bored of it no matter how great it felt the first time you were out there.
The best leaders understand that if we don’t work to check in with ourselves and take care of our needs, our leadership abilities are diminished or can even burn out entirely. It isn’t selfish to take care of yourself, it’s a critical part of being able to be of service to others. And by the way, taking care of yourself also means working to keep not just your team inspired but YOU inspired. Chances are that if you are in a leadership position, you’re doing what you do because at some point along the way, something or someone inspired you. If you don’t continually look for ways to be inspired and motivated, in time, work can feel more and more like well, work. Listen, you can’t surf the same wave over and over again without eventually getting bored of it no matter how great it felt the first time you were out there. So seek out new sources of inspiration to help keep you engaged and excited about the next step and help you sharpen your sense of purpose.