As leaders we can often consider ourselves indispensable. With all that is going on we couldn’t possibly stop, something may happen that needs our attention. Having a break of any kind could be viewed as an inconvenient interruption. I have had this view at times during my career. However, I think its root is in fear. Fear that things will continue fine without us. I am sure there are some fine people who love their work so much that working is a form of relaxation. For the rest of us if we are going to be at our best, we need to take a break. Regarding taking a break, this week I am doing exactly that, writing this blog from sunny South Wales. In terms of the weather scorchio!
Change the Scene
“It takes courage to rest and play in a culture where exhaustion is seen as a status symbol.” Brené Brown
Often you do not know how depleted you are. In my experience there are things you can build into your life which enable you to operate at your best. There will be periods of life where things just need to be done. Even then, having short breaks built in make a difference to our mental acuity. Apart from being able to get up a mountain to look at the view or looking out over the sea at an amazing sunset, both of which are refreshing to my soul, looking forward to a change of scene is something that keeps you going. A future holiday booked in my diary, paradoxically enables me to work harder in the run up to it than I would otherwise do if nothing was there to look forward to.
As we come out of the enforced locked down, I think many would agree that as yet we have not been able to quantify the effect on our mental health. However, we can agree that it has had some effect. So how do we combat that?
In my last role I came to recognise that, if I was going to continue offering my best leading the organisation, I needed to take a break. It is better for organisations if their leader is refreshed and relaxed and has had down time. This will mean their minds are clearer to navigate the way ahead. The reality is that you often do not realise how exhausted you are until you stop. As Brené Brown says, exhaustion has become a kind of unhealthy badge of honour. Busyness has become a virtue.
To help you visualise this; picture a river, on the riverbed are various submerged rocks. Imagine you are sitting in a boat travelling along the river and the water in the river represents your energy levels. When the river levels are bank high then the boat easily clears any obstacles there might be on the riverbed. However, when energy is depleted, or the river is half full, the boat will start to snag on the rocks below. Those rocks represent the normal irritations of life, now your energy is depleted, minor irritations become things you react to more strongly. Even if you continue to do the same things that energise you as before it will not be enough to restore your energy levels and refill the river. For a while you need to do more energising activities than things that drain you to bring the level back up.
What can you do daily or weekly that will help recharge you even for a short time and build your mental energy?
If you have not had a holiday, a change of scenery for some time, when will you book one in, where will you go and what will you do that you know helps refresh you?
“Make rest a must. Leaders are generally driven, outcome-oriented people. As such, they can have a hard time seeing the value of rest and relaxation. In truth, you actually accomplish more when you discipline yourself to unplug and recharge periodically.” John Maxwell
The simple truth seems to be that in order to repair itself our body need to relax at times. With that in mind I am off to top up my energy levels and enjoy more of this Welsh sunshine. I hope you can make space to rest soon too.
Why not book a discovery call to explore how you recharge!