“Energy is everywhere, but stillness plays a major role in its conversion from ‘potential’ to ‘actualized’ energy. At Callaway Gardens, I was amazed to learn that butterflies have to spread their wings in the morning sunshine because the scales on their wings are actually solar cells. Without that source of energy, they can’t fly.” Laurie Beth Jones
Energy is a fleeting thing and often it drains from me without even doing much at all. People, events, responsibilities and multi-tasking keep me in constant motion with little time for me. As an extrovert, I do get energy from these things too but there comes a time, when I need a break to reenergize. This is true for most leaders. Being a leader requires a tremendous amount of energy and it’s critical to establish some boundaries. These boundaries are less about who and what we let in and more about how we guard our time and the boundaries around the time we need to reflect, recalibrate and connect with ourselves and what is most important. If we don’t establish these boundaries, all sorts of disruptions, situations and time pressure will cause this critical time to fall by the wayside. We need to value ourselves and those who we are leading enough to spread our wings in the sun and receive some new energy.
One of our greatest examples of a leader, Jesus Christ, made it a priority to be alone and apart from others so he could renew his energy supply. He was on a tight timeline too, but knew this was important.
There are always circumstances and times in our life where our leadership boundary must be broken, but lots of times all that is required is a little bit of discipline to set and keep the integrity of the boundary.
Here are five quick ideas for setting your leadership boundary and what to do when you’re there
- Find a space where people, phones, computers are out of reach or ear shot. Sometimes just the sound of a doorbell, conversation or ding of a new message can tear us away from necessary “me” time.
- Ask a friend or colleague to partner with you in setting your leadership boundary and hold one another accountable for setting and sticking to this time.
- Close your eyes and/or turn off the lights. Even if you can’t break away from the office, closing your eyes or turning off the lights can change everything about the setting. I used to do this and also move into the guest chair in my office. I was amazed how these small changes helped.
- Pray or if you are not a pray-er, find a short inspirational phrase to repeat over and over again. This will slow down your mind and your breathing.
- Breath. It’s amazing how shallow our breathing usually is. Take deep slow breaths. Imagine breathing in new energy or solutions to problems and breathe out the stress, anxiousness and worry.
You owe it to yourself and your team to set and stick to these boundaries. Try it for a week and let me know the difference it makes or the challenges you have in doing it.