Developing a Discipline of Rest Starts at the Top

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[vimeo id="174270872"] I’m an achiever. I like to set goals and exceed them. And I always rise to whatever challenge is in front of me. I consider myself to be a competitive person, and that means I like to win.

I used to believe that to win; I needed to keep the “pedal to the metal” all the time. Trying to be a successful professional, a solid leader at work, a good husband, active in my local church, be present with my family, and all the other responsibilities of life was exhausting. But because I wanted to win, I convinced myself I just needed to push through it.

YOU HAVE THE POWER TO DECIDE HOW YOU WILL LEAD.

As I’ve matured as a leader, I’ve realized that approach had a diminishing effect on myself. More important, it had a negative effect on people around me.

• Are you someone who brags about how little sleep you get? • Are you responding to emails early in the morning AND late at night? • Do you feel guilty or uncomfortable with down time? • Is everything you talk about work?

How you answer those questions will determine whether or not you may be pushing yourself beyond what is reasonable and effective. And it will come through in your leadership. Those you interact with the most will pick up on your cues and start to behave similarly.

Do you want to know what happens to leadership teams who are tired, stressed, and worn out? Mistakes, reduced productivity, and a predisposition to over-reacting to everyday situations and scenarios. All of which diminish your influence as a leader and could do irreparable harm to those around you.

SO HOW DO YOU START TO MAKE A CHANGE? IT STARTS WITH YOU.

At least, that’s what the highly-esteemed [McKinsey & Co discovered]( http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/the-ceos-role-in-leading-transformation) as they studied CEOs who created transformation in their organizations and those who couldn’t. They observed that CEOs who successfully achieved transformation in their companies modeled the behavior they wanted the organization to adopt. Therefore, any change had to start at the top.

To achieve transformation or breakthrough, you need a rested leadership team and staff. That is the only hope to ensure they have the mental energy to focus on the complex problems they each face as well as the physical stamina to endure whatever challenges are ahead.

Here are some suggestions to get started:

• Evaluate yourself. Be honest with yourself about how much rest is a priority in your life. Understand why or why not.

• Be the change you want to see in your staff. You must prioritize rest before anyone else will.

• Hold your staff accountable. Monitor how many days of vacation your leadership team uses. If you see someone who doesn’t use those days at all or very little, then challenge them to start doing taking regular time off.

• Plan down time together as a team. Break away from the office and do something together for a day or two.

• Make it part of your organization’s culture. Talk about it. Set expectations. Make it part of your onboarding process and ongoing employee evaluations.

IT’S RARELY THE STRONGEST, SMARTEST, OR MOST TALENTED LEADERS WHO SURVIVE. IT’S THE LEADER WHO STAYS IN THE GAME THE LONGEST—AND ENDURES—WHO WINS IN THE END.

The paradox of rest is this: it will fuel your success rather than keep you from it. It will seem counterintuitive at first, but you will find that a disciplined approach to rest will change your leadership potential.

REFLECT: Is rest a priority in your life and leadership? How is that reflected in the attitudes and behavior of your leadership team? What are you modeling for your entire organization?