"It feels like I am running after a mirage. I reach close enough to catch it. It vanishes and I have another place to go find it. I am constantly ON and my mind doesn't switch off."
I often hear leaders languishing on how their day vanishes at work.
Most of it is about how they lose perspective of what is impactful to do in the midst of thin things lurking at them from all sides.
On one hand, there is a push and pull between strategy and execution in a BANI (Brittle, Anxious, Non-linear, Incomprehensible) world.
On the other hand, employee engagement is at an all time low. Attrition is on the rise.
The operational effort in leading teams is a hybrid mode is extremely high.
While there is great emphasis on skilling the leader to create sustaining eco-systems outside, there is hardly much emphasis on self-sustenance in a highly demanding environment. Of course many organisations offer mandatory furlong, wellness classes, etc. However the rigour to notice and ensure that every leader is nourished is still a long way to go.
What can help a leader sustain? Here are a few reflections & learnings from interesting coaching conversations with multiple leaders who are starting to sustain themselves consciously:
The journey of leadership is a journey of energy transformation:
Whats's within a leader and their team is what gets transformed into something tangible outside.
A depleted leader can of course create short-term miracles and heroism but that won't sustain in the long run.
When you and your team are at your best physically, mentally and spiritually, magic happens on the outside. This is not to ignore sick days/ stressful days. It is to acknowledge and accept them in the normal course of life without intending to create them unconsciously through stress.
2. What you are seeking outside may be exactly the thing you need on the inside:
Sometimes we project who we are and what we need onto something outside. So you may be working hard to sustain / create things on the outside compromising your need for the same on the inside.
Its wise to examine the "why" of your passion sometimes and change the direction to see if it gives you new insights.
3. The way you manage your attention determines the trend spotted, the pivot taken and the fire extinguished:
Energy flows where attention goes. In order to be attentive, one needs
an ability to be mindless (not in your head)
All these need a healthy body, a sound mind and an ability to be in the present moment. Sometimes what we ask for can come in a form that we least expected. An alert, observant presence can help us see through it and utilise opportunities that most people miss.
4. Sustenance is not a weekend gig:
Our body and mind everyday replenishment. They don't understand cumulation. Working on things that nourish you only in the weekend may not be enough.
Sustenance is built when your everyday actions contribute to your wellness and wellness of people around you.
5. Developing atomic habits
Sustenance need not be time intensive - its a collection of small actions that become a habit and contribute to overall wellness. Even if you start from zero, building atomic habits can help you get on the journey.
One small action today is what it takes.
What sustains you to be a great leader?