Leading with self-care

The other day I asked a client what was the one single thing that would change his work life for the better?

“Mantenerme vivo (to stay alive),” he answered, with a laugh.

“That’s not funny to me,” I replied quietly.

And from there, we dug deeper, unearthing some serious work-related exhaustion that had been creeping up on him for several months. By the end of our session, his top priority had become his physical and mental health, making sure he got his manager to allow him the holiday time off he’d been requesting for months. No excuses.

Lack of sleep, unhealthy eating and drinking habits, no physical exercise, no down time…. all take their toll on our physical energy levels, as well as our mental resourcefulness. You think you’re the exception and are getting by without anyone noticing, but it almost always turns out that someone or several people are indeed noticing, especially if you’re the leader.

Getting enough sleep and rest is essential to leadership success, and yet a serious challenge for many of our clients. It’s increasingly linked to our mind’s self-control muscle and our ability to make our best decisions. John Tierney explores what he calls “decision fatigue” in his interesting NY Times essay from a book he wrote with Roy F. Baumeister, Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength.

Dr. David Rock, Director of the NeuroLeadership Institute,and Dr. Daniel Siegel, Director of the Mindsight Institute and clinical professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, have collaborated to create what they call The Healthy Mind Platter, with its seven essential daily mental “nutrients” that our brain needs to function at its best, strengthening its internal connections and our connections with other people. Three of the seven daily mind activities are what they call “play time,” “down time,” and “sleep time.”

So this holiday season give your brain the gift of these seven daily nutrients so you can enjoy the huge positive difference it makes to your leadership influence and effectiveness–also the best gift you can give to everyone who surrounds you.