In a world that glorifies busyness, we often overlook the undervalued importance of rest – especially as leaders! Our society applauds the executives who burn the midnight oil, leaders who are always ‘on’, and the hard-chargers who sacrifice sleep for success. But did you know that the most effective leaders have a secret weapon? It’s rest – the antithesis of relentless hustle!
Last month I addressed the underlying burnout that is hitting everyone as we come down from the non-stop sprint through 3+ years of a global pandemic. And because we are so used to overworking in this culture anyway, it’s been hard to stop and be OK with the fact that it’s actually critical for leaders to incorporate rest.
Rest is not just the absence of work, it’s a fundamental human need, and a cornerstone for becoming a successful, balanced, and effective leader. It provides a powerful edge, allowing us to replenish our mental and emotional resources, regain focus, enhance creativity, and be more mindful in decision-making.
The Importance of Rest
When you skimp on rest, you deprive yourself of the energy and clarity needed to lead effectively. In contrast, ample rest heightens your cognitive functions, sharpens your decision-making skills, and boosts your emotional intelligence – all vital ingredients for effective leadership.
Consider this: Have you ever noticed that your best ideas often come when you’re not at work? Perhaps during a quiet morning coffee, a peaceful walk, or a rejuvenating weekend getaway. Are you nodding? It’s no coincidence. When you’re rested, your brain has a chance to wander and explore new possibilities. It has the bandwidth to think strategically and connect the dots that often get overlooked in the hustle of a regular workday.
How do you integrate rest into your leadership routine? Here are some practical strategies to consider:
Embrace Rest to Refuel
- Prioritize Quality Sleep: Sleep is a non-negotiable for restorative rest. Prioritize at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep per night. Remember, it’s not wasted time, but an investment in your leadership potential.
- Intentional Downtime: Allow yourself time to unplug from work, enjoying a hobby, exploring nature, meditating, or simply doing nothing. These replenish your energy and enable you to return to your role with renewed vigor.
- Regular Vacations: Make it a priority to take regular vacations (even if it’s a day trip or a short weekend) where you can completely disengage from work. By stepping away from your usual environment, you allow your mind to relax, refresh, and open up to new perspectives.
- Mindful Breaks: Incorporate mindful breaks into your workday. Even short pauses can help reduce stress, maintain focus, and boost your overall performance.
Rest for Powerful Leadership
Rest isn’t a luxury or an indulgence—it’s a necessity for effective leadership. It’s about acknowledging your human need for rejuvenation and taking in the benefits laid out above can make you a better leader. It’s about realizing that, to lead others well, you must first take care of yourself. The New York Times recently featured Tricia Hershey, founder of the Nap Ministry, for having spent years preaching the gospel of rest and divesting from corporate and academic pressures, suggesting you refuse to run yourself into the ground.
By embracing rest as a crucial element of your leadership strategy, you’re not only promoting your personal well-being, but also fostering a culture that values balance. You’re leading by example, showing your team that it’s not just about working hard, but also about working smart.
As you embark on your leadership journey, remember the importance of rest. Far from an obstacle to success, it’s a source of fuel.
Do you want to explore more about how rest can enhance your leadership potential? Are you ready to break free from the ‘always on’ culture and embrace a more balanced approach to leadership? I’d love to work with you on this journey. Contact me and let’s take this transformative step together.
With the right balance of work and rest, you can become the effective, inspiring leader you aspire to be.