Category Archives: Personal Development
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.” ―Ernest Hemingway
Leaders that know they have areas to improve on are usually defined as great leaders.
That’s due to the fact they take the time to be self-aware and find various means in which they can observe and take in new ideas and ways of thinking to make themselves better.
It’s what Kevin Eikenberry writes about in his blog post “Why Leadership Development Is Self-Development”. All development is an investment in yourself.
Leaders who believe they know everything because of their years of tenure, past experiences and – worse – their title – are not working towards being superior to their former self. In fact they are at risk of producing diminishing returns by not allowing themselves to allow for an influx of new ideas that produce growth.
A leader’s best friend is their ability to learn about themselves and the world at every opportunity. Reading, podcasts, asking questions, connecting in spheres outside of their comfort zone and attending seminars and learning modules (both IRL and virtual) are more available to a leader than any time in history. There is nothing holding back a leader from being more effective, if they desire to learn and grow.
A leader’s output – measured in numerous ways such as reputation, legacy, development of others as well as reporting metrics – can only be multiplied by the amount of input they are willing to digest on a regular basis. And as Lolly Daskal writes, it’s how great leaders are constantly improving.
If you want to do better, learn better. Take your accumulation of facts and experiences and allow new information, new ideas, new thinking and new approaches by others from every walk of life influence your ability to create a better world for those around you.
Learning is the food that feeds the leader. Feed your leadership on those things that make you superior to your former self and bring others along to a better world.
A few years ago, the NBA changed its rules and replaced the “20 second timeout” (which actually lasted about 60 seconds) with a more consistent timeout structure to benefit the pace of play and fan experience.
It was a good move on their part to replace it.
However, it may be a better move on our parts to implement it.
In our time-starved work cultures, for the time it takes to wash our hands properly, 20 seconds can be immensely beneficial in a myriad of ways.
Let’s consider the benefits to taking 20 seconds:
- Time to breathe deeply and relax
- Time to stretch and stand
- A quick recollection of thought process
- Necessary time to read an email in context (especially the body of the email)
- Time to quell emotions before an email reply
- The ability to ponder a difficult analysis
- Shooting off a quick text to encourage someone
- A chance to look over your goals or dreams and re-inspire your purpose
- A harbor of time to pray or meditate
- Being thankful for what you have
Imagine the impact on our attitudes, perspective, relationships and harmony of life if we implemented a “20 second timeout” in our daily routine.
It’s time we all can afford.
As with many leaders, what the current pandemic, economic conditions and social unrest has brought to challenge our leadership bandwith is – to use a word that is now cliche – unprecedented.
And with the tsunami of situations to navigate through comes increased demands on our time, mind, body and spirit.
The need for us to be more, for more people, is most likely at an all time high in our careers. Yet while we generally are able to rise to the current needs, we must not neglect probably the most important need of all,
Remembering the needs we individually have in order to be effective, healthy and thrive.
The ability to balance our self care with leading by serving others is at a crisis of sorts. Because, as stated by an Accenture article, leaders are having to meet Now instead of thinking of Next (and forgetting for the most part Never Normal), we are reaching a frenetic pace that can eclipse our own physical and mental abilities to meet every need.
The urgency and complexity of meeting economic shortfall, pivoting to a digital platform, and ramping up new skills and competencies – while still being able to conduct the “usual” tasks associated with our roles – threatens to create short and long-term physical and mental issues. And we’re only starting to see the tip of the iceberg as to these symptoms.
It’s imperative for leaders to be able to identify and meet our own needs so we are able to elevate our ability to meet these new challenges. Here are a few tips to ensure you meet your own needs as well.
- Take a personal inventory weekly. 15 minutes of uninterrupted quiet time at the beginning of the week is enough to allow you to think and assess what you need. Write down those things you know you need to do this week – eat better, exercise, read, spend family time. Then determine to block off that time for those aspects you need.
- Set aside time to STOP. Whether it’s a schedule break or just a 5 minute breather, it’s essential to pause, and even STOP for a few minutes and walk away. This allows your brain to rest, your body to relax, and your perspective to get a clearer vision of what is going on.
- Schedule breaks throughout the day. I’ve known some people who before covid occurred used to take a number of breaks, some even every hour to walk around the office. The have generally been happier, more productive and healthier as their level of stress was lowered. Your own needs may vary, but taking a few of these breaks can actually help you be more efficient.
- Schedule time to end your day. Whether your day runs a normal workday length or needs to go longer due to various demands and/or activities, you need to have a time built in to cease working and tend to yourself and your family. It’s so easy nowadays to run work activities up until you retire at night, but it allows no time to decompress and meet the needs of those in your household or yourself. Make sure you quit at quitting time.
- Schedule time to learn and pivot. With increased demands on our time, we may tend to push aside time to pivot and learn the platforms and skills needed for us to grow, be more productive, and leverage technology to make our efforts more enjoyable. Schedule that time to learn where you will be most attentive and have the least distractions. You may find you have ample time to grow after all.
- Know when to work more. Unfortunately, sometimes the days must go long. If you know ahead of time that a particular week will be heavy, or certain projects are bearing down towards a deadline, make sure those key days are blocked off to allow yourself the ability to go longer, whether it’s an earlier morning or a later evening. Knowing ahead of time that you are taking that time frame to accomplish a goal will give you a refreshed and energized focus to complete the task.
- Schedule your vacation. There are many leaders who are backed up with vacation time and haven’t accessed some extra time off. While part of that might be the hesitancy to travel amid the current pandemic, that should not prevent you from taking a week off. Vacation time has probably never been more essential as it is now. The importance of taking your vacation rises with the urgency of your workload. Mark off your time and make plans to refresh.
- Plan your downtime. Believe it or not, planning your downtime is an effective away to ensure you meet your needs and not just mindlessly waste that precious time. Make that last hour of your day to read a relaxing novel. Take the first 30 minutes after dinner to walk with your family (and dog). Get on that treadmill collecting dust in your basement. Write that book you’ve put off for years. These are great ways to redeem your time by meeting your goals or refresh time.
These are just a few of the myriad ways to meet our personal needs as leaders. The most essential one is taking the time to asses them, then planning to make that happen.
Self-care is as important as it ever was. By mastering yourself and your needs that care for yourself, you will be a more effective influence than just grinding out the work to meet everyone else’s needs.