News and views on what matters to me: mindfulness, leadership, public relations, marketing, social media, pop culture and every now and then I will surprise you with something else.
You know what I am talking about. You’ve heard it every time you take that flight, “please put on your oxygen mask first before assisting a child.” There is some serious wisdom in that directive and that is, in order to help others, you need to help yourself first. I was fortunate enough to work for a brilliant leader, U.S. Air Force Brigadier General Les Kodlick, and I will never forget him saying—“to take care of your Airmen, you must first take care of yourself, and be the best version of yourself possible, spiritually, physically and emotionally.” I didn’t really truly appreciate the meaning of that statement until years later. As a hard-charger and someone that has put a heavy emphasis on my career, I’ve come to realize that self-care is directly co-related to job performance and leadership.
Think about it, how can you be the best performer and leader if you put yourself, your biggest asset last? Nobody will love you if you don’t love yourself first…I think I see a parallel to self-care here. We don’t often talk about self-care, but I think it’s a topic worth discussing and often. Here are a couple of nuggets from my own experience that I’ve found to be useful and true.
A healthy mind and body = good leader and follower. This is a really good reminder we can all never hear often enough. Making time for doctor appointments, exercise, church, your therapist, or whatever it is that keeps you physically and mentally strong, you need to do it. There really is no excuse. Trust me, the work will still be there, waiting for you. If you make your health a priority, all else will come and your talents will be able to come out and blow everyone away.
Have a life outside of work…please. This might be hard to hear for some, but really, not only are you more interesting when you have a life, you have additional creative outlets and you’ll just be better at what you do. I’ll just leave this one at that.
Working 15 hours a day is NOT a badge of honor. Throughout my career I’ve heard so many people (including myself) brag about all the hours they’ve put in. This almost becomes addicting to some over achievers, how hard can I push, how far can I go? Well people, burnout is a real thing and let me tell you, it’s not pretty. Work hard, prove yourself, but have an outlet when you need that break. Whether it’s watching the latest episode of Scandal, walking your pet tortoise or spending some quality time with your children, parents, siblings or friends…just do it. Your boss will thank you. The quality of your work will improve. Taking pride in your work is important, it’s what makes you stand out from the next guy or girl, but that too has its limits. Breaks are important, know your limit and take the proper time to recover. Also realize, more often than not, less is more. Do a killer job when it really matters, and simplify. At the end of the day, nobody cares about how many hours you put in, but they do care about the quality of your output.
Compassion makes you feel better. That saying giving gifts feels much better than receiving is so true and the same applies for how you treat those you interact with on a daily basis. We all have our good, bad and ugly days, but it’s the compassion that makes us human and that will not only make those you give it toward feel better, but you will too.
It was about this time last year that I was blown away with Arianna Huffington’s bookThrive and it really made me reevaluate what is truly important. The more I thought about this book over the past year, the more I thought, it’s easy for Arianna to preach about this, she’s already made it. What about those who are just starting their careers or who still have a long way to go to prove themselves and “make it?”
I soon realized, our careers are a marathon, not a sprint, so we still need to take care of ourselves and start that process and develop those habits early to make it and make it far. This isn’t only about us, it’s about those we mentor and manage. We need to teach those junior to us of those good habits and set good examples to encourage the next generation of healthy, smart, and productive workers. So, here’s to self-care and job satisfaction and performance improvements! Go ahead, put your mask on!