Settle in, peeps.  This one is a bit long.

I’ve had 5 or more client conversations on this in the last week, so it might be resonant and of benefit to you, as well.

I think of self-care, or care of the Self, as attention to our baseline needs for being ourselves in the world.  Our best, most vibrant selves.

This is a mighty challenge for many of us, as we tend to make achievement among our first priorities.

But I have yet to see an exemplary leader who hasn’t put some serious focus on what sustains and nourishes them and how to integrate that into the demands of executive life.

When I’m talking with clients, I suggest a check-in on the following:

  • Sleep
  • Nutrition
  • Movement
  • Relationships
  • Connecting with Nature
  • Stress Reduction (including supportive spaces like therapy)

But when we are under strain, we tend to default to our learned programming, which might sound like:

  • Bear down, work harder (my personal favorite)
  • I can’t (take a walk/fill in the blank), I have to work
  • I don’t have the time
  • Other things are more important
  • I must do xyz first
  • Other people will think I’m not working hard

Those are false, of course.  Unless there’s an emergency, there’s little that a walk or conversation with a friend or a nutritious meal or sitting and breathing quietly can do to negatively affect our day.

In fact, often — perhaps almost always — the opposite is true.

The push is easier when we’re back from a walk at lunch.

Ideas drop in, unbidden.

Energy returns and revitalizes.

The work gets done faster and with less effort.

The problem that we were wrangling with suddenly has an obvious solution.

So how do we create sustained change over time and really do it differently, not just with a galloping leap on January 1?

We make a commitment.

To ourselves.

A real commitment that has the underpinning of meaning and why we want to do it differently.

Not because we “should” but because it’s who we want to be and how we want to live this life of ours.

And then we put it in our very full calendars like all real commitments.

And we get creative with application and time and combine a walk and talk with family or friends or pets while in nature, for example, allowing us to recharge and replenish in multiple ways.

And we tell at least one person about our commitment and set up some kind of reporting mechanism so we can share the experience, build momentum, and feel some pride, satisfaction, and accomplishment.

And, if we find that we are more likely to stick with things while doing them with others, we do.

And we take perfection off the table and aim for a general bent in the right direction.

We won’t always sleep or move enough.  We’ll sometimes indulge too much.  We’ll let go of meditation.  But we’ve got a compass, an orientation, that steers us back.

Leaders who make care of the Self a priority have triple impact.

The first is on yourself.

The next is on those whom you lead and model it for and all of those in your organization whose lives are touched by your decision-making.

The third is for everyone in your life — personal and professional – to whom you show up.


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