I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a sermon and you’re listening to a pastor speak and you feel he’s speaking directly to you. And everything he talks about seems to be about you and your life.
I had one of those moments recently.
I was attending one of our HTG peer group meetings. The speaker on our leadership content was Laura Brasov. This particular quarter was all about life planning. So the topics were not so business specific but more life oriented.
Laura opened by telling us, “You need to take time to replenish. Your life depends on it.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks
Personally, I have been really struggling lately — because I’m a workaholic. What’s worse: I have a tendency to turn my hobbies into businesses. This makes it even more complicated to do the things I really love.
I really work at my businesses to the point that I end up working 90 to 100 hours a week. I know I’m running pretty hot because my patience is shorter, my tolerance is thin and I’m just not treating people the way I like.
Sometimes when you’re a leader, you can have trouble talking about these kinds of shortcomings — or at least in a way that helps you and the people around you.
If you are the leader of a company, you feel you have to be the hardest worker. You have to be the most responsible and make sure you have enough money to make payroll each month. It’s enough to make you feel you’re mired in quicksand sometimes.
The WRONG way to work through it
I used to try to work through these situations through raw effort. When a challenge confronts me, I just tend to try to work more. I know many business owners who do the same thing.
Fortunately, my mom knows me pretty well. She approached me saying, “If you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t be around to take care of anyone else.”
I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it, but it all became crystallized when I listened to Laura speak.
Winning the leadership sprint
Laura shared that leaders are typically sprinters. You try to sprint longer and harder than anyone else. But sprinters can’t do that forever. So they need to pause.
The pause allows you to begin again and sprint even faster. If you’re just sprinting and not resting, you’re not going to make it for long.
If you look at many top sprinters, they tend to have a rhythm. Tennis players also have a rhythm that allows them to sprint hard for a ball and then get ready for the next one.
As a result, they dismantle their opponents who don’t establish a rhythm. Simply stated, they wear them out.
That’s why it’s essential that you, as a leader, establish a Replenishment Cycle. It means taking time to pause in 4 key areas of your life.
4 steps to your Replenishment Cycle
- Physical replenishment – God designed us to be active creatures. That’s why we need to schedule 15 to 30 minutes of activity at least three times a week. What I did: I vowed to maintain my physical condition by maintaining my three-times-per-week weight lifting schedule. I also vowed to buy a rowing machine so I can get some much-needed cardio. Remember, physical conditioning can also be a chance to reset. Use your workout time to refresh you mind, outlook and body
- Intellectual or mental replenishment – You’ve got to find time to nourish your brain. Because a stagnant mind is a mind in decline. It’s fun to learn new things! Take time to regularly expand your horizons by learning something fresh and new. So find a book. Or, find someone you admire and would like to pattern your life after. Even if you only spend 10 minutes a week, it adds up. What I did: I’m not a reader. In fact, as soon as I sit down with a book, my eyes close and I fall asleep. I have actually fallen asleep standing up! But I wanted to make this change. So I decided to buy some audio books and work at it in chunks. I know I should read the Bible more, but often, I find myself not understanding it and feel I’m not making progress. But if I listen to it, I always learn something.
- Emotional replenishment — Find time to connect with the ones you love. You’ll be a lot more emotionally healthy person. Reflecting on why people need to connect with us is really rewarding. What I did: For me, emotional replenishment really centers on my wife and children. And so I vowed to create one-on-one time with them on a regular basis. Setting aside a date night is really important for a marriage.
- Spiritual replenishment — Whether you’re a person of faith or not, finding something that can inspire you spiritually can really light you up. Spiritual replenishment requires that you get out of the mode you are usually in. And it helps you get centered on your higher purpose. What I did: On the weeks I’m able to get to church, I find I’m much more grounded, stable and able to get through my week.
Give yourself permission to replenish
You’ve got to remove the guilt. You’ve got to remove the pressure. You’ve got to find a way to release yourself from whatever is keeping you at the time. Laura says she actually has had clients write themselves permission slips to do the things they really needed to do.
So today, plan to give yourself permission: To golf. To read a book. Or just spend time with someone you love. Can’t do it? Have someone else write a permission slip for you.
If replenishment seems strange to you
With many workaholics, the roots are very, very deep. Many of us have had people in our lives who have modeled this lifestyle or who have inadvertently taught us this behavior.
But if you are a business leader or community leader and you feel you need to do this, don’t wait. Do it.
I know I really took a step back when I thought about the behavioral legacy that I’m leaving my children. Do I want to raise them as single-minded workaholics who don’t take time to enjoy life’s simple pleasures? They already talk about which business they’d like to own.
So be a good family member. Be a good spouse. You could be known as the person who worked the hardest, but so what?
Take time to experience life’s richness
Everyone may appreciate your work ethic. But you’ve only taught them one lesson. There are so many others you could teach. Enrich your life, and the lives of everyone around you. Take time to replenish.