Living a Recon Leadership Life: Self-Care

Now that you’ve hopefully taken time to read and review the various elements of R-Leadership, it’s time to put them into practice.

The first step involves looking at yourself, which may be difficult. After all, many leaders spend every waking moment, looking outward: ensuring the team is functioning, being forward-facing with customers and clients, watching the metrics, addressing the needs of Board members or other higher-level leaders.

The problem is that if you aren’t caring for yourself, you can’t care for others. That may seem like a saying more suitable to family life, but various studies over the years (do an web search and you’ll likely find more than you’d like to explore) suggest the average adult will spend one-third of their life at work. Other research indicates the average person spends one-third of their life sleeping. That leaves you one-third to do other things.

If you work more than 40 hours per week or if you bring your work home, you are reducing that last one-third. Possibly quite significantly.

If you have a family, you might justify the extra work — after all, you’d like to do a bit of remodeling or home repair, or maybe you’re in the market to purchase a home, or a larger home if you’re having children. Maybe you’re thinking ahead for those children — say you have three — and what you’d like to contribute to their future education or training pursuits. Perhaps your children are not yet school aged and you would like to send them to private school, or you live in a part of the world that education is not free.

Those are all great reasons to take on the extra duties.

However, if you are in a leadership position, chances are you are a salaried, non-exempt employee. Those extra hours won’t add to the bottom line of your paycheck, but will certainly reduce the percentage of your non-work time, either what you’d spend with your family or what you’d spend sleeping.

While there are times when it makes sense to take on extra hours, or even an extra job, R-Leaders learn to weigh the costs.

These costs include things like those suggested above:

  • Time away from family and friends
  • Time away from hobbies
  • Time away from spiritual practices
  • Increased health (physical, emotional, mental) stressors
  • Increased taxes (if income increases)

In the leadership role, you conduct risk-benefit analyses, so it makes sense to consider doing so for yourself.

R-Leaders not only learn to count the cost but also how to keep the job in perspective, recognizing that if we aren’t there, the organization will continue. If it won’t, we need to put some other things on pause and look at the succession plan.

In the meantime, what are you doing to care for yourself? Need help thinking about what that means in your context? Let’s talk more.

Published by AR Neal

Dr. Andree Robinson-Neal got bit by the writing bug in the 1970s and despite a career in education has never been cured of her penchant for speculative fiction. You can sometimes find her at https://agnubloom.com, where she writes under the name AR Neal, who will hopefully be discovered and have a bunch of her work republished in multiple languages and turned into stage and screenplays. She is a practitioner and the developer of Reconnoiter Leadership. Learn more at https://r-leadership.com.

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