What a Great Summer! Taking a Break and Refueling. Why it's important for leaders as well as athletes!
What a great summer this was. Why? My trips to Quebec and California, following on springs trips to the Grand Canyon and northern New Mexico, helped me achieve a goal, set in March, to be more in nature and make sure that all parts of me were nourished. As I reflect on those experiences and what it takes to be at our best, what comes to mind is a great book by journalist and business leader Tony Schwartz called The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Performance. His premise is that we have to create a life that is sustainable (physical), provides security (emotional), allows self-expression (mental), and has significance (spiritual). He gives inspiring examples of leaders who re-energized explored their lives in addressing one or two of these areas.
1. Find the Right Balance
So where do you put your energy? Working with my clients, I see them sometimes needing to step back and look at what areas of their lives may need more attention. Many have invested in their mental/analytical selves, putting a lot of energy into day-to-day priorities and projects--but may have forgotten their bodies and sometimes their emotional selves. Others invest in their emotional selves, putting energy into nourishing those around them and paying attention to their relationships--but they might need to pay more attention to their mental side. For example, a new client I am working with is delivering on developing the Asian market but is feeling like she could be heading towards a burn out. She is ensuring the needs of everyone around her are being met but is forgetting herself in the process. Taking a step back and evaluating where to put our energies is a good place to begin and can lead to major benefits.
2. Do Something New and Get Inspired
We all need renewal, and it probably looks different for each of us. For me, this summer was nourishing on multiple levels. I had a chance to go fishing with one of my uncles and his family in the north of Quebec. It was majestic, beautiful, refreshing, and I learned a new sport that I fell in love with. It was emotionally, mentally, physically (you need strength to reel in those large walleyes!) and spiritually uplifting. I also was able to go to Big Sur, California, which was so beautiful and re-inspired me. Sometimes I dream of becoming a surfer, and California has plenty of those. Mixing visiting friends while attending two conferences made it even more enjoyable.
Likewise, the leaders I work with need inspiration or re-inspiration. One client I had worked with in the past felt like his leadership was good because he always got good financial results. When I had a chance to work with him again, he finally realized that he could try to do something else, something new. He decided to join a board and ended up on one perfectly aligned to his passion. You could see his delight and excitement at making a contribution and enjoying himself at the same time. He also started exploring how he could extend his knowledge and his expertise to contribute more to the company.
3. Continue the Journey
How do we sustain high performance over time? Tony Schwartz suggests that integrating rituals into our lives can help us balance periods of intensity with periods of renewing ourselves. For me, that’s daily athletic training. Although physically I was not at my peak this summer, I did some great swims and a lot of running, with two sprint triathlons. Nothing too big or too fast, but just enough to keep it going. As I’m getting ready for two marathons I continue to learn, adjust, be coached, and grow. Clearly my physical journey in the last few years has had its ups and downs. Performance, motivation and learning is at the forefront as well as diligence, persistence, and practice. Let’s not forget joy and satisfaction!
Complementary to the Tony Schwartz book is a another I’ve started to read and will be reading more of this fall-- Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey. This book reveals the myriad ways artists (writers, composers, painters etc.) work. The way the structure their day, the rituals they use, as well as how they use time and tools. Currey reminds us to stay creative, find a rhythm, find a way to work, exercise etc. that is personal. The book is full of insights and inspiration on how to work.
I love seeing leaders grow, stretch, and strive to be their best. They are all at different places in their leader journey and I feel blessed to be able to work with them. The ups and down of their careers is part of the journey. Every day they find their way to step into their work, with creativity or not. It’s up to them to find a rhythm, a way to work that fits them personally.
Refueled by great summer adventures I’m hard at work in continuing to strive to be the best I can be. I hope you are feeling refueled by yours. Wherever you are on your leader journey--if you need a coach, a leadership program, and or a team alignment session--the consultants and coaches at Desormeaux Leadership Consulting are ready to partner with you.
If you are interested in learning more about our services, you can visit our website at www.desormeauxconsutling.com or contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.