A few years ago, I found myself burning the candle at both ends by going non-stop day after day. Early in the morning, I worked on projects and answered email. During the day, I conducted and attended meetings. Late into the night, I made preparations for services, developed ideas, and kept current by reading up on new and developing trends. My weekends were filled with services and activities. I felt quite productive as I checked items off my to-do lists and aimed for excellence. However, after several months at this pace, I found myself fatigued and extremely irritable. This eventually led to a lessening of my focus and the plunging of my productivity. It finally became clear to me that something needed to be done when I looked at my calendar and realized that there was no end in sight.
Perhaps you can relate. As leaders of organizations, projects, and groups, whether large or small, we all desire to experience the exhilaration that comes with accomplishing the goals and objectives that we set out to fulfill. As such, it is easy to get caught up in the things that make success possible like brainstorming, planning, and meeting. It is easy to become intoxicated with the effects of positive change and the results of seeing others reach their potential. Even dealing with unproductive cohorts, unmet expectations, and long and grueling schedules are counted as necessary in the overall scheme of things. However, with all of its rewards and feelings of fulfillment, leadership, if one is not careful, can really take its toll on even the most competent and effective leader.
While leaders are sure to stay on top of important matters that keep them on the cutting edge, most neglect the very important principle of self-care. Self-care begins with knowing when it is time to take a step back from our work to simply rest. Even the Lord God rested. At the end of creating the heavens and the earth, and all that dwell therein, the sun, the stars, the vegetation, the oceans, the animals, and yes even humans, God stood back, looked at all He had made and said most confidently, “it is very good,” and then He rested from His labor.
Resting, while seemingly a daunting task, can actually be quite fun and simple. I have incorporated “me-treats” into my schedule to address my self-care needs. These special moments often involve a day trip to the mountain or to the beach to relax and disconnect from the busyness of my life. But when those things are not possible, a quiet moment for a leisurely walk outside or time to indulge in my favorite past time, reading, can also do the trick. Disconnecting from our work, even for a short moment, allows us to be revived and rejuvenated, giving us a fresh perspective and a clearer sense of direction.
Whether you play a round of golf or enjoy a few days away, determine the things that allows you to disconnect and rest, then indulge in them frequently. Rest, because a lack of rest can lead to negative personal relationships and serious health challenges. These things block the flow of your creative juices and eventually allow burn out to settle in. Rest, for in doing so, you return with full vigor and strength, becoming even more effective in what you do. Remember, if the Almighty God, in His infinite wisdom, saw fit to rest at the end of creation, how much more so should we mere mortals.