“How do you keep up your personal energy?”
That question, posed to a colleague at a gathering of agency leaders from throughout the country, is a valuable one for any leader to consider. Leadership, while rewarding, can also take a toll on an individual. Trying to keep your staff on course and motivated, working to overcome barriers to your organization’s forward progress, trying to change external systems designed for yesterday’s goals, allaying fears about upcoming change initiatives … frankly, the weight of the tasks before you can be both lonely and exhausting. If a leader is going to not just survive, but thrive, he or she has to find a way to recharge their batteries.
Sure, there are the wellness strategies we all know we should be practicing … getting enough sleep, regular exercise, a healthy diet … as well as time management tips that encourage us to prioritize, focus and unplug at regular intervals. The quest for continuous learning has us reading blogs, articles and books, as well as attending seminars and taking courses. And of course our commitment to the mission of our organizations keeps us pressing on long past the point that others might have given up on our cause.
And sometimes these things are enough to keep us going. Other times, the fastest way to recharge our batteries is to connect face-to-face with another leader … someone who is walking the same path, carrying the same burdens, sharing the same commitment to find a better way on behalf of those you serve. You might be the only one in your organization who understands the challenges before you, but trust me, you aren’t the only one facing whatever dilemma/challenge/opportunity is zapping your energy. It can provide a real surge to your outlook to know that others have been there, done that, and have a road map to the other side, or even to realize that others are currently grappling with a similar challenge.
Give yourself permission to call that colleague, attend the conference, go to lunch and share/ask about/work through the challenge that is draining your batteries. It is amazing how energizing it can be to simply recognize that others have faced down the same challenges and lived to tell about it. And even when we know that, how often do we press on, somehow thinking we have to figure it out ourselves?
Give yourselves a break and take the time to connect with another leader outside your organization. The resulting boost to your batteries may even give the energizer bunny a run for his money.