Have You Tried Turning Yourself Off and On Again?

All year long I hear leaders say, “I could really use a break.” And now, with all the shelter in place and staying at home going on, you finally have one.

I doubt it feels like a real break, though. Instead, you might find yourself suddenly trying to maintain your same pace of productivity remotely, even though the world around you can’t possibly keep up. While there’s nothing wrong with attempting to lead at the highest levels right now, maybe this unexpected “break” is a blessing in disguise for you.

Think about how you were doing before COVID-19 slowed or brought so many sectors of society to a halt. How busy were you? Were your priorities on track or scattered everywhere? When you interacted with people, were you the leader you longed to be—or more like Michael Scott from The Office?

Regardless of how well you felt you were leading a few weeks ago, you were likely stuck in a rut somewhere and in need of a critical reset. I love what author Anne Lamott says: “Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” And so, here’s a challenge: five ways to leverage recent disruptions, kickstart your heart, and recalibrate your leadership.

Kick your morning alarm to the curb.

Being alarmed is a terrible way to start the day. Clear your morning schedule for a week (or 15 days) and see what time you naturally wake up. Try it, I dare you! You’ll be surprised what you rediscover when you release your familiar “get up and go” performance plan . . . especially since it’s not 100% realistic right now anyway. I’m not saying go hibernate or give up on life—but maybe you need the extra rest, or more time to reflect, before you launch into your daily routines.

Go for a long wander, not just a walk around the block.

Taking a stroll doesn’t always need to be tied to exercise or walking your dog. When is the last time you went for a random walk? Well, here’s the game plan: keep your distance from strangers, leave your cellphone at the house or on silent, and get outdoors. What do the birds of the air, the sun on your face, and wind whistling through the trees have to say to you? Let the fresh air clear your mind and restore your soul.

Listen to your high school mix tape.

Remember the good old days when “the real world” was on the horizon, not in your rearview mirror? What mattered most to you way back when? Honestly, it’s been a long time since I thought about mix tapes, but I guess that’s what my Spotify playlists are. Since your music and memories go hand in hand, this could be the perfect time to revisit the songs that shaped you. You may not realize that “Don’t Stop Believin’” actually marked your leadership journey (pun intended).

Put pen to paper and write recklessly.

Words matter to most leaders. Some prefer short and to the point; others are fine with longer prose if it’s purposeful and mistake free. With all this stay-at-home time, you have permission to journal freely. No publicist, no spell check, and no boundaries beyond the margins of your medium of choice. Turn off your internal editor. What will you learn about your leadership when you let whatever you want to say flow freely? In time, you’ll discover what you’re most curious, passionate, and frustrated about, along with fresh ideas and solutions for what you’re facing as a leader.

Dust off the hobby you parked in the corner.

Not long ago you used to paint, play guitar, collect stamps or baseball cards, garden, work on cars, try new recipes, or do anything enjoyable that breathed life back into you as a leader. Now’s the perfect time to get back at it. Even five minutes a day will give you space to reconnect with your heart and refuel your leadership moving forward.

You Try It: [Insert Your Own “Reset My Leadership” Idea Here]

The leadership ruts you need to reset may be similar to others, but how you recalibrate will be unique to you. What do you need to work on and how can the unpredictability of this season help that happen? Try one of the five ideas above or create your own. You’ll see how doing something ordinary turns into extraordinary results down the road.

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