Learning to put yourself first and why that’s important.
Leadership is a personal reflection of who you are that comes to life through your impact on others. It provides a fulfilling opportunity to give to others. Though sometimes, in the course of our daily demands, we end up giving so much away that we forget to take care of ourselves. Forgetting about our own needs can result in countless side effects, like frustration and fatigue, or resentment and burn out.
Taking the time to fill your cup first is essential to your overall health and happiness. More than just in the traditional “invest in me” participation in workshops, training and networking sessions, it means taking the time to do more of what excites your soul and drives your passion. Otherwise, you could find yourself completely drained of the energy and enthusiasm that inspired you to be a leader in the first place. Unfortunately, I’ve been there, and gratefully, I came out the other side.
Here’s what I learned along the way:
1. Happiness is your birthright.
Like oxygen, food, water and safety, being happy—truly happy—is your birthright. Believing this is often as challenging as experiencing it. Being open to accepting that you are deserving enough is the first step.
2. You have 24 hours of choice.
You get 24 hours everyday—no more, no less—and sometimes it just doesn’t seem like enough. But you also get to choose how you use that time. By making wise choices, it will feel like you have added hours to the day.
3. Balance is essential.
Leaders need balance—at work, at home, in decision making, on their teams—the list is endless. Balance opens doors and, in many ways, creates perspective. Finding balance isn’t easy and maintaining it is even harder. If you prioritize having a sense of balance in life, you will be more at ease.
4. Prioritize you.
When your efforts are spent trying to meet the expectations of others and ignoring your own wants and needs, you will most certainly, in time, become burnt out. Actively satisfying your own desires first will afford you the capacity to give more to others.
5. Energy is gained by knowing what fuels you.
Some actions give you energy and some take it away. The key is knowing which is which. By consciously filling your day with the actions that fuel you, you will ultimately accomplish more.
6. Connecting unlocks learning.
Every human has a different path, different experiences, unique perspectives. Honest connection with others can be one of the most powerful development experiences you can have. Remaining humble and open in your interactions unlocks a world of learning opportunities.
7. To trust is to empower.
Trust is a fundamental component of leadership. It creates respect, confidence and teamwork. Trusting yourself and trusting others leads to empowerment for all.
8. Vision eliminates distraction.
When you are driving somewhere you have never been, chances are you map your way so you don’t get lost. The same is true for life. When you establish a vision for your future, it helps keep you on course.
9. Perspective puts problems in their place.
Worrying about issues that are either out of your control or have a relatively minor impact, will just waste energy and causes unnecessary stress. Perspective creates a more objective view of the size and impact of the problem and will help you prioritize.
10. Fulfillment resides well beyond comfortable.
Being comfortable is safe, it may even feel accomplished, but to be truly fulfilled, you need to take the leap well beyond comfortable. That’s where impossible becomes possible and where dreams become reality.
Let me leave you with this thought. We are all a work in progress. As you reflect on these 10 lessons, keep this in mind. As leaders, our efforts are too often focused on getting the most out of others. By focusing on YOU, an already invested and inspired leader, you will find yourself. As an added benefit, you will increase your impact on others along the way.
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