We don’t usually talk about the importance of self-care in leadership, but it’s like other things in life: nobody can take care of others if they are not in a relatively good shape. The way leaders impact others also will depend on how happy and healthy they feel and how well-aligned with their values they are.
Focus of attention
The first step for self-care is having oneself as the focus of attention. This involves being aware of our feelings, needs, and behaviors. The more accurate this self-awareness is, the better we can make decisions based on that information. Since people are not born completely self-aware, raising self-awareness becomes a process. Its development implies reflection and introspection, which require time and effort.
Practicing self-awareness has many benefits. It doesn’t only improve the decision-making process and make us more proactive, but also it allows us to see things from the perspective of others, leading into more self-control and acceptance.
Proactive about what you need
Through self-awareness, we know who we are, what we need and how we feel. This is at the core of authenticity, a key skill for leaders, which leads to trust. Moreover, self-care is consciously looking for what we need, in every possible way: mental, emotional, and physical.
This focus on oneself doesn’t imply being selfish. The same way that caregivers of long-suffering patients are compelled to take care of themselves, so they can develop their work, anyone leading people should do the same to ensure they are in their best conditions to lead.
While time is fixed, energy is flexed
The idea that working uncountable hours improves your productivity is a fallacy, which leads into a poor self-care, impacting your life and others’. A proper self-care routine gives us energy to do more, and get more things done. Work smarter, not harder. Then, we should be able to nurture our creativity, our confidence, and our endurance. Self-care is the door to boost that.
Research shows us that creativity has to do with the amount of sleep, the exercise, and the time we have fun. Far from wasting time, by prioritizing these things, we are creating the right conditions for our brain to function better. In the words of Abraham Lincoln: give me six hours to chop down a tree, and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe. Self-care is our capacities’ sharpener to work better instead of more.
Either if you’re a leader or not, bear this in mind. The more you care about yourself, the better you will develop your work and your relationships. The time you invest in raising your self-awareness will pay off in the form of a more productive and healthy life.