Now Til December: Honoring Commitments, Perseverance and Pride
Anyone else struggling to honor your well-being commitments in recent weeks? Energy level zapped? Feeling emotionally drained? Sleeping less? Eating more? Fitness routine gone off the rails? You are not alone.
Reasons to “Refuel”
Now, more than ever, leaders in communities, organizations and business are stretched beyond their limits. Systemic racism, police brutality, political turmoil and the coronavirus pandemic fallout are huge issues on their own. Compounding them all into the past four months is like combining a ride on the Tilt-a-Whirl, Bumper Cars, Demon Drop and Steel Vengeance all at once. Head-spinning, vomit-inducing, heart-stopping moment after moment. If you are still standing, kneeling, or simply laying on the ground breathing, give yourself a pat on the back. For real. Right now.
You have been putting customers’ and team members' needs ahead of your own for months and months. The survival and success of your company has depended on it. However, giving everything you have to others ALL.THE.TIME is not sustainable. As businesses pivot from crisis response to the next phase of emerging work realities, leaders must “refuel” to take their organizations forward. This is an ultra-marathon we are running, not a 200m dash. Without meaningful self-care efforts that fill your tank, “bonking” is imminent. You can not afford to hit the wall right now.
Leaders modeling a practice of self-care set the tone for a culture of wellness in the workplace. This creates a positive relational experience for employees, and gives everyone “permission” to make choices that sustain their overall well-being. As Shawn Achor explains in his book, Big Potential: How Transforming the Pursuit of Success Raises Our Achievement, Happiness and Well-Being, by becoming a “positive node” in a “positive system”. We are able to influence those around us to be better, be happier and do more; just like fireflies lighting up a mangrove at night.
Tapping Your Strengths
Digging deep and finishing the project is often second nature for leaders. This quality is defined as “Industry, Diligence and Perseverance” according to the VIA Survey. It means that you work hard to finish what you start, and are able to stay focused on the task while taking pleasure in getting the job done. It is often utilized for external commitments, and integral to fulfilling personal well-being goals. Applying the same level of diligence to your fitness routine, sleep hygiene, hobbies and eating habits will sustain you through the hard conversations at work, thankless hours negotiating contracts, and covering the jobs of three different roles due to vacancies & hiring delays. Sticking with your personal commitments builds trust; one of the true pillars of positive relationships - with yourself and others.
Over-reliance in one area can hold you back. Blindness to your strengths may cause you to miss opportunities. Recognition and purposeful use of strengths propels you, and those around you, forward to better than expected places.
Permission Granted to Feel Positive Emotions
Crappy, horrible things are happening all around us. If you are acknowledging that reality, and trying to do something (no matter how small) to make it better, it is okay and super important to find ways to experience “the big 10 positive emotions” aka HAPPINESS. There is lots of talk (and research!) about breaking your goal or problem down into small, manageable actions to produce positive outcomes, including happiness. Believing that we can accomplish our goal is one of three key components to changing our habits.
People express feeling happier and healthier when they take action on goals aligned with their values. When you finish a project, meet a deadline or complete action steps, good feelings are generated inside of you (more on neuroscience another time). Often, people look to external sources for gratification; and, job-well-done praise from others.
Imagine the difference in your life at home and work, if you allowed a sense of pride to shine when you honored the “small” commitments you made to yourself.
Maybe it’s switching gears to enjoy the evening at home free of work guilt.
Maybe it’s getting out for a walk, run, or bike ride to keep up with fitness goals.
Maybe it’s having one less sugary drink or “adult” beverage a day.
Maybe it’s turning off the TV, computer or mobile device a little earlier at night so you can sleep.
Maybe it’s going through your digital photos and creating meaningful albums for family.
Whatever commitments you have made to your personal well-being, find ways to persevere and take pride when fulfilling those self-care actions. Your “positive node” will expand into a “positive system” at work making a place that flourishes and grows.
30 Seconds to Be a Better Leader
Habits are made or broken through greater self-awareness. In my coaching practice, individuals are guided to find small, doable actions related to their goals, which take a minute or less to complete. Anyone can find 30 seconds in their day to do a wellness action. Yes. Anyone.
Here are 10 well-being actions that take less than a minute to complete:
Recall a positive moment from my day before stress-inducing meetings.
Relax my shoulders and take a deep breath each time I sit down in a chair.
Drink a glass of water after waking up in the morning.
Set an alarm notifying me to turn off all electronic devices at least 30 minutes before my planned bedtime.
Keep a notebook and pen beside my bed to jot down thoughts that keep me awake at night.
Look up one new joke everyday and share it with someone.
Eat a small, healthy snack when my energy is low.
Share a fun picture with a friend or family member.
Reflect on what went right in my day before going to bed.
Stand up and move (dancing encouraged!) once every 20 minutes while I’m awake.