The value of slowing down
As the stakes get higher, we often feel pressure to go faster. Slowness might be a more helpful ally.
Laying on my sofa last night, I did not want to pick my head up off the pillow. It was time to climb the stairs to the second story of our home and remind my son to turn off his light.
But I did not want to move.
I was depleted.
I had returned a couple of hours prior from running a two-day offsite. The offsite went beautifully, and I loved the work. I deeply enjoy being in person with teams, coming alongside them as they wrestle with their organization's most difficult questions.
And...as an introvert...I find myself depleted after a day or two of intensive in-person work.
This morning, as I sit at my desk writing in my journal, I am met with an acute awareness that I need to take some space for myself this afternoon.
I need to recharge.
Perhaps I'll nap, read, watch television, or take a long walk. No need to achieve or complete; simply an aim to tap into empty time.
One of the most common themes I hear with leaders is a crushing absence of this kind of open space.
For many years, I too failed to give myself the gift of slow time.
For much of my adult life, I was chronically out of touch with my own inner state. The awareness that came this morning, the 'I need some space today!' would have never come up. The need was there, but the awareness was not. The self-permission to take that kind of space was also absent.
In my early years as a founder and CEO, even if you had brought the need to my attention, I likely would have said taking that kind of space was too risky. There was too much on the line. Only in the later years did I come to see that my job as a leader was to bring clarity and that clarity was not accessible without time away from the grind.
I meet CEOs and leaders every week who describe living in a fog. Many describe finding it impossible to look beyond today's fires. They described days dictated by their inbox and calendar; the latter booked back-to-back with meetings.
When I ask how they care for themselves, how they step back from the day-to-day to see the whole chess board or to think more long-term about their vision for their organization (or god-forbid their life!), I am often met with a blank stare. Sometimes, in more honest moments, my question is met with the arrival of tears.
If you resonate with this description of leaders living in a state of soul-suffocating business and overwhelm, know that you are not alone. Now may be just the right time to reconsider your approach.
The job of a leader is not one of digging ditches. Your efficacy will not be measured in how many hours you put in or how many emails you send. It will be measured in the clarity you brought your company, in the care you brought your team, and in the ability you evidenced to connect with and inspire a group of disparate humans around a shared mission.
This is bigger than vacations. You need time wired into your weeks to help you step back, rest, read, think, and recharge. You need space for wandering, and impromptu conversations.
You need time alone.
And it is ok to take it.
All of that begins with self-permission and a decision to make a change.
This is a gift only you can give yourself. Might now be the time?
I appreciate that you are here. If you were forwarded this email and it resonates, you can subscribe here.
You do not need to navigate the questions you are holding alone. If I can be of assistance to you in navigating your own journey, please reach out. I would love to meet you.
In the meantime, sending a big hug your way from my desk in LA.
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