Early this month I had the pleasure of staying in the newly refurbished Westin Book Cadillac hotel in downtown Detroit (yes, Detroit does still exist).
The theme of the décor and atmosphere at this hotel is “restore”. The rooms, lobby, restaurant all played on this theme with quiet spaciousness, muted color, and healthy food. In spite of the raging winter storm outside and my daily full schedule of coaching clients it was pleasure to feel a sense of calm in those surroundings.
The “restore” theme reminded me of the early awareness and importance of restoring in 2001 by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz The Making of a Corporate Athlete . It made perfect sense to compare an executive’s energy expenditure to that of world-class athletes. The authors explain that professional athletes spend a small percentage of their time competing – much of their days are spent in practice. Most executives spend their entire day (12, 14 hours or more) performing, have no off-season, and have a longer career than athletes. Yet we seldom consider the implications of this kind of stressful “performance” on our ability to be world class leaders.
Ten years after publication of that article, the need for you to expend energy has increased. The amount of information you must process and the number of new technologies you need to learn have amplified. Your organizations are flatter and the expectations are even greater for you to perform at an optimal level. You weren’t meant for this kind of stress without periods of recovery.
Taking care of all aspects of your life will provide you with the energy you need to sustain your leadership, and you should be modeling it for those in your organization. What are you doing to restore yourself? Some suggestions:
Recovery for your body: As hard as it may seem to fit into your schedule, a regular exercise program is one of the most important things you can do to recover the energy needed to deal with stress over the long haul. Throw in some extra sleep, healthy food, and plenty of water to stay hydrated and I guarantee it’ll pay off in higher performance for you.
Refreshment for your mind: How about a few minutes a day reading something fun (fiction or poetry perhaps?) that has nothing to do with work? You might also consider a reflective practice to help you organize your thoughts, your work, your play and fun. You can do this in 15 minutes a day and stay intentional with it by blocking out the time on your schedule.
Renewal for your spirit: Spiritual renewal provides you with “will” – the will to engage and get through tough times. I use the term “spirit” in the broadest sense, meant to include connection with your deepest values, purpose, and the things that provide meaning to you. Consider attending a retreat or just getting away on your own (I spend several days each year in solitude at a retreat center). Meditate, pray, journal, or do whatever it takes to reconnect with yourself on a regular basis.
You can no longer expend energy in these stressful times without engaging in practices that will restore you. Trust me, the time you spend will help you restore, improve, and sustain your leadership.
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