Summer is the season known for its barbecues on the deck, trips to the beach, and time for unplugging from the normal grind of life. However, summer for a leader can be much more.
Before being tempted to totally unplug this summer, let me suggest that this season can be a one of tremendous growth if you’re intentional about it.
Let’s get real for a second — leadership is difficult.
Leadership has its rewards, but these rewards come at a cost. The cost of leadership can be incredibly exhausting on your resources of time, energy, and enthusiasm if you’re not being intentionally refueled.
What if this summer you were intentional about your plan to refuel as a leader?
Here are three ways to refuel this summer:
Get plenty of sleep.
Check this out. John Medina in his book, “Brain Rules”, referenced a study that found when a person gets only six hours of sleep or less per night for 5 nights, their cognitive performance was as low as a person who was kept awake for 48 consecutive hours.
If that’s not enough, sleep researcher Matthew Walker at the University of California, Berkeley, found that a sleep-deprived person was 60% more likely to be controlled by his emotions and be more susceptible to emotional outbursts.
How often have the people on your team been on the receiving end of a less than positive emotional reaction from you primarily because you failed to exercise good self-leadership and get a good night's rest?
The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. As we do so we’ll discover the following benefits: lower levels of stress, an improved mood, and an increased ability to pay attention and retain information.
Sleep is essential to the effectiveness of your leadership — and also for those you lead. According to an American Insomnia Survey, “Insomnia in the US workforce costs businesses over $63 billion in lost productivity over the course of a year” (1). Not only is insomnia costly to you, but it is to your organization as well. As a leader we need to get adequate sleep, and encourage those we lead to do so as well.
As the days last longer and the weather gets warmer, make sure to stay disciplined in your sleep rhythms this summer.
Leaders are readers. Reading is how we expand our horizons and get into the minds of those we may never meet. The famous philosopher, Dr. Suess, once said,“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”(2)
As a leader, we are called to bring those we lead from where they’re at to where they need to go. Reading helps develop the vision and skills needed to do this effectively.
Do you have a reading goal for this summer? Maybe your goal could be to set aside just 20 minutes per day to enrich your mind through reading? Or perhaps you could read one book per month during the summer?
Or how about using a portion of your vacation to stimulate your mind with a great read? One of the things that I love to do for my clients from time to time is to give them great books to read to encourage them to invest in themselves. Last week I was having a conversation with a client (and friend) who I had recently given a copy of “Extreme Leadership” to. He was so excited to tell me that he decided to use his time on a recent flight to read it. He told me that it was so good that he couldn’t put it down and that by the time he had returned home, he had finished the book! I was obvious that reading this book had inspired him and ignited a spark to continue to grow and take his leadership to the next level.
You know what will work for you — just make a plan to READ!
For further reading on the benefits of daily reading, Reader's Digest published this interesting article that you may also find helpful.
Plan to attend a conference.
I believe in the power of conferences. I believe this because conferences create an environment ripe for transformative change. This is one of the reasons why I work to put on a number of conferences each year. I’ve personally experienced transformative change that comes through conference attendance and I want to help leaders of all types do so as well.
For many of us, summer affords the opportunity to plan both the calendar and budget for the upcoming fiscal year. As you do so, consider attending a conference within your field of expertise. There, you will have the opportunity to learn from industry experts and be challenged by the latest in innovation in an environment ripe for transformative change.
Make space in your calendar to keep growing all throughout the summer.
Hope this helps!