“When we are tired, we are attacked by ideas we conquered long ago.”
Being a leader can be tiring. After all, you have your team relying on you to be there for them to answer questions, provide direction, and make things happen. You may also have a family who relies on you, along with your friends, social organizations, and other commitments all needing your time and attention, all looking to you to help create their futures. But what about those days when you are feeling beat; those days when you are not finding Flow , when you are definitely not performing at your best? What is a leader to do in times like this? The answer may surprise you – it is time to take a leadership break. That’s right, it just might be time for you put your needs ahead of others. It might be time for you to get selfish.
But what about all of that stuff we have read about being selfless in your service as a leader. You know, put everyone’s need ahead of yours. Well, all of that is great, unless there is nothing left for you to give because you are exhausted. There are times when you need to leadership break. Not quit, not give up, just take a break. You just might be amazed how doing some of the following things will help you as a leader:
1) Play Hooky – That’s right, it may be time to blow off that meeting or take the day off to do something mindless or fun. Much of the stress of leadership is that of constant decision-making; this can become so paralyzing that even the choice between bagel and eggs seems too much. By taking the day off you are reclaiming your ability to make a choice. You still have the power, which can invigorate you. Also, giving your brain a rest can do wonders for your creativity and energy.
2) Sweat is Good – Working out can help your body to release all of those great neurochemicals such as dopamine, endorphins, and anandamide, which provide you with energy and motivation. A great workout changes your outlook on life. If you are finding that your workouts are becoming a grind, then change them up; try a 7-minute workout or other High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) workout.
3) Power Nap – There is nothing better than a nap. Shut the door, turn off the phone, and if you have a couch to lie on, use it. If not, keep a yoga or exercise mat stashed in the office that you can roll out in a corner. Stretch out, breathe, and close your eyes. With practice you can actually get a solid 20-minutes of shut-eye, and even if you just shut down and rest there are huge benefits. Humans seem to be the only species that think they can go non-stop without repercussions. Follow the lead of your dog and get a power nap to get back in the game.
4) The Big Sleep – Research continues to prove that 7-8 hours of sleep are necessary for healthy, productive people. The old pull-an-all-nighter to face the next day is so last decade. And so is bragging that you only need 4 hours a night. Not true. Get the sleep you need, it will help you be the leader you want to be.
5) Float Your Boat – When I am stressed out I seek out my favorite activities – I do what I love. In my case a few hours in the woodshop or a long run clears my mind and gives me renewed energy. Whatever your hobby or recreational activity it is usually a place where you can find Flow. Go there and get into Flow and it is likely to lead to Flow in other areas – even work. So, go do what you love.
Feeling overwhelmed as a leader? It is time to take a leadership break and do what is necessary to bring your best self back to your team. Do something for you and you will be amazed how much more you have for others. As for me, I am going to take a power nap, workout, followed by some time in the woodshed, and maybe then I will get started writing that next blog I have been putting off.