I spend many hours working alongside leaders, either coaching or supporting them to make changes in their lives or organisations. One phrase they have often heard is that they need to be leading themselves before they can lead others. So how does this happen when the flow of work in is way more than how fast you can get it out. When you leave your laptop for half an hour and come back to over 50 emails. When your waist or thighs have expanded and your clothes no longer fit. Or when you have turned the occasional glass of something to a regular pattern that includes way more than just the one.
IN 2016 the NZEI commissioned a report on Principals Health and Wellbeing. They found that:
- Principal stress was reported at 1.8 times higher than the general population, and the problems sleeping reported at 2.4 times higher.
- Principal burn out was 1.7 times higher than the general population, and work-family conflict 2.2 times higher.
Too many times I hear leaders telling me I was up between 12 and 3am this morning with things churning through my head. Or I've let myself go, but I just don't have enough time to exercise. Or I just need some time to gather my thoughts. Sometimes I also hear "It's just not worth it".
I could give you some superficial tips that will act as a band-aid until the next load of work lands on your desk, or a crisis occurs, but I won't. I too have been in this place and it requires more than that to make a change.
I will however pose some questions for your consideration...
- Why do you do what you do?
- What do you want people to say about you at your funeral? How is that aligned with where you currently are?
- What might happen if you don't make a change? And what else?
- What are you scared of?
- What lights-up your world/makes you smile?
- What's the worse that could happen if...
- If you do make a change, how will that affect other things in your life?
As leaders your job is both fulfilling, and consuming. It is fruitful and disheartening. It is crowded and lonely.
Who are you talking with? Who are you confiding in? Who is challenging your thinking and assisting you to get clarity? We need someone we can do this with; be it a mentor or coach, and ideally someone who knows a little about what we do, but isn't closely attached to us.
So who do you have? Where are your support crew? Isn't it time you got someone?