I was parked at the beach sitting in my car having just finished a half-hour phone call. In front of me stretched the ocean views of English Bay. Across the bay the North Shore Mountains stood out in sharp relief to the deep blue sky. The sun was shining overhead while people walked or ran along the path in front of me. Nothing was booked in my calendar for the next thirty minutes. The task master voice in my head told me to drive off and get working on the next thing on my list. After a few moments, I put on my sunglasses, opened the car door, stepped out, and went for a walk, fully taking in the beautiful day that was right in front of me.
Work, Self, and Life
As a leader, my default behavior is to jump into the next action. This often works well. It certainly lets me get a lot done. Being in action can also stand in the way of my leadership. If I don’t look after myself first, there will be nothing of me to give to anyone else.
As high performing individuals, we are committed to our work. We are also committed to those of us in our life. We end up in the middle:
Work ← Self → Life
We have the best of intentions—we are truly committed to being the best leaders we can be to those we work for and with. We also want to show up the best we can as leaders in our families and life. What gets forgotten in all of this is making sure that we do things that are specifically and only for ourselves. Like my walk on the beach.
Selfless Versus Selfish
When I look after myself, people around me can perceive this as selfish. I sit on a pendulum that swings between these two extremes:
Selfless ← → Selfish
If I focus on serving others, which is how I work on becoming the best leader I can be, I end up giving so much that I am burned out and spent. If I am completely selfish, then I am not being of service to anyone.
Intentionally Putting Myself First
I have to put a lot of intention into looking after myself. Doing those things that renew and energize me, without worrying about what anyone else thinks.
I recently signed up for adult sailing lessons. Many around me said “why on earth would you do that?” After all, I’ve sailing more than 15,000 nautical miles, including sailing across the Atlantic Ocean. What I know is that there is always something new to learn in sailing. That sailing is one activity that I have to do to renew and energize myself. The four days I spent on the water not only taught me a lot of new skills, I had an absolute blast sailing a modern higher performance keel boat with another keen sailor and our 18-year old very experienced instructor. The smiles say it all.