High-performing leaders have a drive and work ethic that makes them seem superhuman. Instead of leaping over tall buildings in a single bound, they skip over weekends in hot pursuit of success. These goal-oriented doers and thinkers live, eat and breathe their work. They attack challenges and devour opportunities masterfully and consistently, with little doubt in their ability to do so.
Sadly, this is also the group that often misses the warning signs. It may be illness and extreme fatigue, or super-sized anger laced tantrums or unexplained crying episodes. Sleep becomes evasive, and even small issues can become overwhelming. I know. I’ve been there and done some of that. When you’re on fire for what you do, the work can become consuming. And without some downtime to rest and refuel, reflect and reframe…to think…we will move from swimming to drowning over time.
The Benefit of Self-Care
Despite all of research that promotes sleep, healthy eating habits, and exercise as proven ways to help us live longer and lead happier, more resilient and productive lives, we still rather “push through the pain” to accomplish more in a day, or a lifetime. While we can rationalize that some stress is good to challenge us to the next level, too much stress and poor stress-management skills will eventually cause our mental and physical health to suffer a set back.
But I have a challenge for you. Reframe the way you think about self-care. Instead of seeing it as a sign of weakness, esteem it as essential to your success… a superpower even. Just think about it. How much better would you be if you had a good night’s sleep most nights? What if you started Monday morning with a hot cup of coffee because you like the taste not need the rush? Imagine the increased productivity you’d experience, the fresh ideas, and better insight into problem-solving, or just being a nicer person to be around. These are all wins, and perhaps the following self-care tips can help you get there:
The Choice is Yours
We may not want to admit it, but we do have a choice. We can choose to try one of the self-care tips mentioned above or choose to continue burning the candle at both ends. In one of my recent favorite books, “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown, I read that successful leaders make decisions every day with attention to the “important few.” Clarity and focus for the rest of an organization won’t happen if leaders are unable to discern the important few, and without that focus, teams will become overwhelmed, confused and unduly stressed.
Choosing our priorities and being conscious and present to what and why we are choosing to say “yes” or “no” to something, allows us to right-size our commitments and create more successful and realistic outcomes. It feels awkward at first to change our adrenaline-induced to-do list to something more focused and “less than,” but in time, you’ll settle into a rhythm. Opting to be home for dinner a few nights a week, for example, and leaving the office by a particular time to help you get there should help you learn to increase your efficiencies and right-size your workload.
Time to Act
It’s not easy to change habits, and often successfully changing a habit begins with a choice to do one thing in the direction that you’d like to change. You might start with the following questions:
Jot 1-3 ideas down and schedule time on your calendar to try these new moves in your life to see what reduces stress, increases your ability to creatively think, and improve your health.
I’d love to hear how you are benefiting from choosing to make self-care a priority. Send me a note.