When faced with a decision to take care of ourselves or lead, we often choose the latter.
I was faced with this dilemma this week - I'm sure you have to. What did you choose?
I chose to lead. I took the extra steps that were necessary to put myself two steps ahead of my team. I got up to speed. I pushed myself ahead. I created assignments. I took time to communicate and motivate. I almost caught up on my email.
That's what leaders do. We often choose between being "in step" or getting ahead of the ball which I call being "two steps ahead."
I'm proud I made that particular choice last week, but I also have mixed feeling about it. I almost pushed myself over the edge. I sacrificed time with my family for it. I didn't do some of the things I wanted to do for myself. Have you ever made that choice as a leader? I expect you have.
Most of the leaders I talk to, work with and coach put others first. Many leaders neglect themselves and I often talk with them about the importance of balance and self care. I know many of them do not put themselves on their list of top priorities.
But we must keep ourselves at the top of the list. In airline safety it's the "put your own oxygen mask on first" philosophy.
If you find yourself in the midst of a decision - to lead or not to lead - I'm not suggesting that you choose yourself over your work passion every time. What I am suggesting is that you put yourself on the priority list. I mean that literally - put yourself on your priority list - every day. It may be 5 minutes or 30 minutes or 4 hours, but make sure you do it. Doing so will lower your stress and restore your spirit. You will probably receive work inspiration when you are in "rest" mode.
For me? It's Saturday. I could work, although no one expects me to. I may feel I need to work a little tomorrow but today, I am going to take care of myself with some digging in the dirt and some time at the lake. I will commit to presence - with nature and with my family. I choose to take care of myself and I know that doing so will allow me to come in stronger next week.
What will you choose this week? I hope you will put your own oxygen mask on first and ask yourself what you need to do to take better care of you.
Put yourself on the schedule this week. Make yourself a priority.
Rejuvenating yourself will strengthen your leadership.
© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on motivational programs.