I remember hearing that sentence being used outside of the inflight context for the first time as it stuck with me ever since. If we don’t ensure that we are getting oxygen then we we risk being unable to assist others.
How true, how profound, how real.
I started to observe my own actions, I quickly picked up that I am a giver and I was giving everything away. All of my time, energy, even my own goals were secondary to others and I was running out of oxygen. Since becoming aware of that I have worked hard at keeping a balance but I constantly have to pull myself away from giving too much of myself and have realised the relationship between self-care and resilience.
Taking on the responsibility of being a leader means being brave, being inspiring, being present and being there for others. All of these qualities take an immense amount of energy from us which I refer to as the ‘Leadership Tax’. The choices we make to stand tall and to be great managers takes a toll and if that energy isn’t being replenished we risk burning out, stressing out, and losing sight of what is most important.
This is why we must be aware of what depletes and what restores us since without that awareness we focusing on all the wrong things. In order to be present for others we must be present with ourselves.
Recently I caught myself in my own trap. My anxiety had returned, I wasn’t sleeping well, I got sick 😱, my work had no boundaries, my mind was racing, and worst of all I constantly felt like I was just 'catching up’. I was stressed with a capital S. I started questioning my purpose, myself, and anything/one around me. I was depleted and for me it was a clear sign that I had not done enough on a regular basis to replenish my energy stores.
Fortunately I had a trip home planned and have spent the past 7 days focusing on what gives me energy, being outdoors, golfing, hiking, being with my family (and the dogs), sleeping without feeling anxious, and basically doing whatever I wanted. At the end of the week it was great to feel excited about my work again and to focus on creating the right boundaries and balance.
By constantly restoring your energy you will build up your resilience and 'bounce’ back when times are hard. Identify what gives you joy and make sure it happens. Prioritising your self-care is your number one job as it is not something you can delegate.
As we close off the rest of 2017 ensure you are being kind to yourself and setting realistic end of year goals. Be mindful with your time, your energy and your focus by being clear on what’s important and what gets prioritised so that you enjoy the holidays and avoid spending them sick.