Leadership Challenges: Pause and Reset

Most professional athletes have days off between matches or tournaments. Some sports have off seasons. But in your career, except for vacation weeks, you’re expected to be in tournament-form every day, eight to 12 hours a day. It’s no wonder so many leaders are tired and stressed out. It’s a big leadership challenge. If only there was a pause or reset button. (Image: freedigitalphotos.net.)

Even soldiers get R & R days. But very few of the senior leaders I know and coach take enough time off to refresh and renew themselves. There’s just too much at stake, they tell me. “I’ll take a few days off after this project settles down,” and the excuses are really valid.

So many of us work nonstop, day after day, without a break. It might feel like we’re making progress, but it’s draining. When we do get ahead, what do we do? Tackle a new project. And on and on it goes. We don’t stop to ask the questions:

  • Am I doing the right things in the right way for the right reasons?
  • Am I still on a track that will get me to where I want to be next year?
  • Am I doing what I truly love and value?

So here’s what I’m thinking could help sustain energy: create a way to pause during the day, even several times. Maybe 3-5 minutes; more if possible. Even a minute of quiet time where you can breathe, clear your mind, and remind yourself of what truly matters, what your values are, will refresh you.

Jim Loehr in his book with Tony Schwartz, The Power of Full Engagement, cautions over-committed leaders that it’s not a matter of time management, but of energy management. The authors suggest regular breaks every 90 minutes. And more recently, Peter Bregman, in his book 18 Minutes, recommends us to take a break once an hour.

Even if you only do this once or twice a day, it will help you to find energy. Take a moment to take stock, realign yourself with your goals and values, and refocus on your purpose. Regular rest stops are useful. They refuel your body and mind. They actually give me renewed energy and drive, and make it easier to create the time and space for what truly matters.

What have you found helpful to renew your energy? I’d love to hear from you.

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