Running a business is hard work, and you don’t have enough hours in the day. Big surprise! Your attention on self-care is one of the first things to go.
You know as well as I do that this is hurting the business. And it may well put you in the hospital at an early age.
So how do you maintain health and balance as a leader?
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Your mental state reflects your physical health. I’m not talking about extraordinary health care, either, just attending to health issues quickly, eating wisely and maintaining a good weight.
You’ll need this in order to maintain resilience in your work, perspective, and great relationships.
Get away from the work
It’s easy to build a culture where your presence is crucial every minute of every day. That’s not healthy for any organization, because there will most definitely be times where you’re taken out of commission.
It could be as simple as a flu bug, or an auto accident, or the death of a close relative. If your presence is required by the business when you’re dealing with these events, you’ll burn out and become resentful.
I ask my clients to do a mental exercise of imagining that something happens that pushes them well beyond reasonable limits of engagement in work. This thinking usually results in the realization that work involvement is a choice: something that’s within your control.
If it’s a choice, then you can also choose to ratchet back for your own health. You can take a day or two off on the weekend. You can send calls to voice mail. You can even take a vacation.
Take time for big thinking
Your business constantly draws your attention to details, even trivial matters. The important stuff rarely becomes an emergency, unless it’s grown so large that it’s no longer possible to fix without drastic measures.
Your primary value as a leader is to look out further than those who work for you. You’ll be looking at a longer time scale and a greater breadth of impact.
To do this, you need time to think. Away from the pressures of the minute.
Some people do this by organizing a personal or leadership-team retreat. Others allocate a particular time during the week, month and quarter when they focus on the larger issues. But it’s not just “alone time,” it’s also specifically designed to work on the larger ideas and more-strategic decisions.
This is about taking your “Big Thinking” and applying it in daily actions. The two have to connect.
It’s easy just to react to daily circumstances. In fact, you’re often rewarded for being responsive and decisive.
But that can come at the expense of actually thinking through important decisions, being mindful of their impact on the broader picture.
People are not automatons. We have feelings, opinions, and desires.
It’s one of the most frustrating parts of leadership, but also the most gratifying. Because leadership is about getting results through others.
As a leader, you have a range of relationships in which your employees may not be involved. You’re a face to the community. You’re a critical contact point for important partners.
Because you’re human too, you also have your own circle of family and friends who make life worth living.
All of these need to be nurtured and developed, not only to benefit your business, but also to bring more purpose and meaning to your life.
Grow your people
Your people are the ones who deliver the most value to your business on a daily basis. They’re in the trenches doing the work and making invisible decisions you’ll never see.
They are also the future leaders of your business, our community and society in general. So invest in them, because it’s on them that your future success is built.
Integrate it all
At the end of the day, you’re a single person. You need to develop practices and habits that make all this natural, even second nature. Because these can’t remain just more things on your to-do list.
It’s not like you need more stuff to do, right?
Carl Dierschow is a Small Fish Business Coach based in Fort Collins. Access his free online assessment to help leaders at www.smallfish.us/mission.