See if this story sounds like anyone in your life. An executive of a small organization works all the time — days, evenings, whenever an idea pops into her head. She postponed her knee surgery a couple times because she was too busy, but finally the pain was too much and she had to go in. That evening following her surgery, she sent her staff an email to let them know she was woozy, but all went well. And then proceeded to start dispensing tasks to her team. Staff members report receiving emails from her at all hours of the night. She even emailed and texted one staffer on a Sunday night telling the staff member to call her as soon as he could. When he called, the topic turned out not to be urgent; it could have easily waited until the next day during normal business working hours. How sustainable is this executive? When will she burn-out or have a health crisis that will cut short her contribution? And what kind of crazy life is she modeling for her younger staff members? This story speaks to two issues: creating boundaries and carving out time for rest and recovery. In coaching conversations this past summer, I gave a homework assignment to two of my clients. One is a CFO (Chief Financial Officer), the other a Director. The assignment was: “Don’t check your email during your vacation.” You should have seen the look of shock and terror in their eyes. When I explained the need for a real rest and how they’d actually be more productive if they took a break to recharge, they reluctantly agreed to try it. The Director made it until Wednesday. She spent an hour on email and then nothing else until she returned home. The CFO made it the whole week and started checking emails on his flight home. Both reported feeling much more refreshed. And their respective companies survived just fine. Oscillation What my clients were doing was incorporating the principle of oscillation, as described by Loehr and Schwartz in their book, The Power of Full Engagement. The authors posit that in order to be our best, we need to balance periods of work with time for rest and recovery. This fall I’ve partnered with a fellow coach, Ross Woodstock, to introduce Lansing area companies to The Fit Leader’s Program. Developed by my colleague, David Chinsky, this unique leadership development experience, aimed at aspiring and high potential leaders, introduces 32 different tools and processes in the four key components of leadership fitness: clarity, confidence, effectiveness and vitality. It’s that focus on vitality and creating sustainable leaders that piques companies’ interest and really sets apart The Fit Leader’s Program from other leadership development programs. You can teach leaders to be more effective, to have more confidence in their decisions and to have clarity around direction and goals, but if leaders are not investing in the well-being of themselves and their team members, you have a group that can’t go the distance. We teach the principle of oscillation as one of the tools of the program and show people how to balance periods of work with time for recovery. As we approach the holiday season, this is the perfect time to try out this principle. Schedule a break. Disconnect the electronics and re-connect with friends and family. Incorporate some downtime to replenish your reserves. And look for ways to add more oscillation into your life. Happy Thanksgiving!
Susan Combs, MBA and Professional Certified Coach, works with coaching clients to create fresh starts, enhance their leadership skills and increase their confidence. She is an authorized licensee of the Fit Leader's Program. Susan provides one-on-one coaching, DiSC team-building training and manages corporate mentor programs. She lives in Lansing with her son, Max, and their golden retriever puppy. Visit SusanCombsCoaching.com or MentorRoadmap.com for more information.