In a recent conversation with a very competent client she mentioned her time off and what a joy it was, only to follow it up with “It was a bit selfish….”
No it wasn’t. It was really really really smart.
Self care is NOT selfish. And on the whole I’m questioning how good we are at self care at all.
Corporate life can become a series of competing and conflicting demands. Time spent in meetings, responding to emails, managing up, managing down, winning work, delivering work, leveraging the career…
Family life can be dangerously reduced to “Mum and Dad’s Taxi” while we get caught up in the hyper parenting craze thinking all that activity for our kids is making them well rounded citizens.
Raphailia Michael said, self care is defined as, “any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health.” It’s not a selfish act, it’s rather intentional. I am not psych trained but I have studied people for twenty-five years. We have the propensity to be our best friend and worst enemy when it comes to life and leadership.
What self care is not is narcissistic or pathological in its intent to harm or neglect others. I am a partner, a father, a professional, son, and a friend. All these roles have expectations of me and self care doesn’t mean I neglect these responsibilities in a way that’s harmful to myself or others. What self care does is ask us to look more closely at the importance and priority of what we are placing on the activity, the demands and the circumstances we are in. We self care in order to be responsible individuals and also good stewards of who we are and our contribution to the planet.
One way of thinking about self care is that it is the combination of awareness and action. As in we know what’s going on with ourselves and circumstances and we have the resources to do something about it.
- When you have low awareness and low action you are in burnout. Intervention is required.
- When you have low awareness and high action you are in fatigue. Rest is required.
- When you have low action and high awareness you are stagnant. Change is required.
- When you have high awareness and high action you are resilient. Discipline is required.
We were not designed to work all the time, nor are we designed to play all the time. We are designed to reach our maximum potential and serve others to the best of our ability. The key is self care. Self care is NOT selfish.
In practice, the following five steps will help you self care more effectively so that you can contribute more intentionally.
Know yourself in order to lead yourself.
Self leadership is the first step to leadership and self awareness. The more you know how your nature, nurture and choices have shaped and influenced your life to date, the better you can realistically place yourself in both the present narrative and the future you’d like to participate in.
For example, I am passionate about ideas, progress and making things happen. I am terrible at follow through, details and overly sensitive to criticism (First voice connectors are prime to this, I know it but it doesn’t mean I like it 🙂 The more I know myself the better placed I am to get the right help to lead myself.
Get the best help to make the most sense of your reality.
Mentors, supervision, assessments, friends, professionals, they all help you make sense of the puzzle called you. As you develop, grow and mature in life, getting the best help possible is your finest gift to the future.
When you have a clear beginning point and an aspirational end point you can take the first step to becoming the best version of you. Use ‘all the brains you have got as well as all the brians you can borrow.’
Place yourself in the quadrant and be willing to change.
Are you leaning towards burnout? Are you more fatigued than expected? Do you have a sense of the wheels spinning?
The beginning point of any journey is being able to accurately locate yourself. Know where you are and who you are being in that moment. You can then measure off where you’d like to be. Be ruthelessly honest here and listen to the feedback of the ones you love and respect the most. An accurate starting point will give you the best picture of what to do in order to move forward.
Spend the next ninety days saying no.
No is your secret sauce after you’ve said yes. When you know what you need to move towards you must become absolutely forensic in what might distract you from that journey. It’s in the no you find the gaps in your disciplines, your systems, your contentment and your habits. This is critical to true and lasting transformation.
Say no to anything and everything that takes away from you preferred future. The margin you’ll create is beyond incredible and margin creates peace.
Make progress your goal and not perfection.
One of the most significant things I do with and for my clients in our deep leadership work is pointing out for them the progress they have made and the significance of that work.
I’m convinced we don’t spend enough time telling people how good they are. We need to get so much better at pointing out contribution, greatness, service, things that make a difference, and the impact it makes.
Be immediate. Be specific. Be personal.
When you see your progress two things happen. Firstly, you have a sense of achievement and that in and of itself creates momentum. Secondly you are reminded that you can actually do it and do it well. At least well enough to make this much progress, so why not make that little bit more?
Your best gift to the world is a whole version of you. The more we do that the better we do life and leadership.
This is for leaders. I am for leaders.