Self-Care Drives Leadership and Career Success

I’ve spoken to corporations about the importance of self-care and burnout prevention for years, and have followed leadership expert Michael Hyatt for years. The two worlds collided recently when I listened to his podcast version of Self-Care as a Leadership Discipline.  Hyatt presented this fantastic speech to 85,000 leaders at this year’s LeaderCast event.

Hyatt’s case for self-care as a key driver of workplace and leadership success is so solid and compelling.

self-care drives leadership

Key Lessons on Self-Care, Leadership and Success

1)    Forget “The Hustle Fallacy”

If your primary success strategy is “hustling” and working as hard as you can, you’ll eventually fail and pay a big price. According to Hyatt, this approach will produce a high level of both physical and relational pain over time. You’ll eventually “burn out or blow out.”

2)    “Self-Care Has Career-Enhancing, Business-Building Benefits”

Hyatt defines self-care as “the activities that make for a meaningful life outside of work, while contributing to better performance at work.” Read that sentence again. Self-care activities are actually workplace performance enhancers. This list of activities includes: getting enough sleep, eating properly, exercising, quality time with people you love, meaningful hobbies and having time for personal reflection. To quote Hyatt: “The bigger your vision, the more you have to prioritize self-care”. Amen.

3)    “Self-Care Gives You Energy”

What if you don’t have time for self-care? Hyatt’s response is that you can’t give yourself more time. There are only so many hours in a day. “But, you can bring a sharper, more energized you to bear on the time you’ve got available.”

He refers to the work of Jim Loehr, coauthor of The Power of Full Engagement. “Productivity is less about managing your time and more about managing your energy.”

Most people get this backward. They work harder yet ultimately less productively. Hyatt points to “The Law of 50”. Research has demonstrated that working more than 50 hours in a given week produces zero productivity gain. You become less efficient overall.

Self-care will “sharpen your blade”. You’ll be able to use the time you do have, to work more efficiently and effectively. You’ll be better, period. So will your work.

4)    “Self-Care Gives You an Edge”

Sharpening your blade through self-care is essential, not indulgent, according to Hyatt. Research evidence supports the fact that self-care leads to higher workplace performance. Your mind gains power from proper rest and recreation.

Self-care is essential to your creativity. As Hyatt states, “sleep-deprived people generate fewer original ideas and tend to stick with old strategies.” Intentionally taking time for fun sets you up cognitively for innovative breakthroughs.

Exercising decreases stress and anxiety and boosts your confidence. “Exercise increases the belief that we can accomplish difficult tasks, and fuels greater performance at work.” If that hasn’t convinced you, self-care in the form of exercise is also linked to higher lifetime earnings.

5)    “Self-Neglect Causes Crises That Cripple Careers”

Hyatt shares a story of a colleague who lived a workaholic lifestyle for years, neglecting himself and his family. This approach to career success first broke down his family, “and eventually broke down the career he’d fought so hard to build”.

Taking proper care of yourself and your life sets you up for “multidimensional success” . It also sets you up for longterm career success and endurance. Longterm success requires sustainable habits. That’s a simple yet powerful fact.

Ask Yourself the Important Questions. Before It’s Too Late.

“Are you willing to be an industry titan at the expense of being a loving father or mother?”

“Do you want to be the youngest executive in the boardroom, even if it costs you your health?”

He believes (and I wholeheartedly agree) that “self-care offers a brighter alternative.”

Slow down enough to be fully present in your work and enjoy it. You’ll perform better over time.  Your body will be properly looked after. Your family will have a far better chance of staying intact. And you’ll have time for friendships “that you can take into your golden years.”

Take care of yourself and your life.

When you’re tempted not to, remind yourself that it’s actually the key to success.

To learn about other ways you might be sabotaging your success, read Stressed Out? You May Be Too Conscientious. 

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