I was leaving a networking breakfast in February of 2019 and was racing to a dentist appointment when I was hit by a car. I and the other driver were fine, but talk about being shaken up for a few hours. The car was towed and later replaced. While I count my blessings that things turned out okay, I was not okay. One of the contributing factors to this unfortunate event was I was racing. Just as I was racing away from what I hated in my corporate life, I was repeating the behavior in my entrepreneurial life. Does this sound familiar to you? Let’s continue this conversation and dig deeper into why we need to change as leaders.

If you are reading this, you are most likely a high performer. Just like a dog is rewarded with treats for good behavior, so is the leader who is rewarded for execution at the highest level. We are lulled into a false sense of satisfaction only to move onto the next thing that feeds that instant gratification until we keel over from eating too many treats. It’s called burnout, lack of motivation, loss of confidence, feeling lost; it manifests in so many ways. Most important for you to realize why you arrived at this place and the importance to change, but how? We are not taught how to change this behavior until we crash and the behavioral change is forced upon us. Still sound familiar? Then this is what I propose we do to change this behavior: 

You are in control of your schedule; book an hour a week to pause & reflect.

We’re not going to start meditation or a yoga class with this one hour, but the intent is to simply teach you to not schedule every minute of your day. Don’t even multitask and listen to a podcast while walking the dog. The mind needs air to allow new thoughts to flow out of it vs. forever putting in more data that may clutter clear thinking. You may start randomly thinking about what friends you’ll invite over for the weekend. You’ll think about that doctor appointment you’ve been putting off. You may even remember to call a friend to reconnect. 

These have nothing to do with your business or career, but it’s about starting a practice of taking back time for yourself. I may even go as far as don’t schedule exercise except for maybe walking. It’s about breaking the behavior of thinking you’re productive when the most productive thing you can do is rest the brain and allow new thoughts to flow. I know it’s hard, but you’re a high achiever, so I’m sure you can master this one! Book the hour now!

Look back in the rear view mirror and ask yourself what went well in 2021.

The simple act of backing up in your car; using either the rear view mirror or camera is a deliberate activity done slowly to ensure you are safe and kind to people and physical property. The same deliberate activity bodes well when you look at what you have done in 2021. While programmed to start planning your 2022 goals, the wisdom gained by reflecting on what went well in 2021 slows the mind down to realize what should you continue, start doing or change. 

As an example, in 2021 I evolved The Drop In CEO Brand and wrote my book The CEO’s Compass to put a stake in the ground as my area of expertise. I will continue to do that and start engaging more with my network to expand the community and reach to people I can serve. I will change the amount of time I’m in certain networking organizations because there is no long term value to my brand while spending more time in others. 

What might your reflections on 2021 be in the context of what to continue, what to start doing and what to change? Slow down, don’t go to the next section until you write a few notes on what 2021 was like and what you will bring forward.

Slow down more and minimize the casualties. 

The side effect of being a high performer has an exponential impact that can be hazardous to yourself, your employees and the community around them. When you can’t demonstrate leadership in slowing down, you burn out your team and erode the community structure around your employees. Sounds harsh, but it’s a reality that leaders don’t see unless they slow down. 

What would it look like if you scanned your email hourly, but only responded to them in the morning and at the end of the day (for 90% of email, this is just fine). Do you send email out on the weekend or schedule them to only go out Monday morning? Do you set up meetings at 8:00 am and up to 4:00 pm each day. Does this make sense as these are times when employees can be dealing with early day urgent matters or thinking about evening activities? 

You create chaos in the lives of others when you don’t prioritize activity and when activity takes place. This can only change when you slow down and think about how your leadership and activity level impacts the lives of many, many people. So my best advice is to slow down, think about whether you react or respond to situations and what is most important to get done that day, when on that day or maybe next week. 

When we exercise the muscle of restraint to not get everything done now, your discipline in slowing down is felt by many in the employee ecosystem. It’s not a popular decision and the old guard may perceive this as lazy, not performing at the highest level and maybe losing confidence in you as a leader. I propose to you and say, this is the courage we must take as leaders to recognize the value of slowing down. 

When we slow down, we show discipline and better decision logic in what we do and when we do it. And if we can’t get everything done, we should question if all activity was really necessary in the grand scheme of achieving your goals and those of the team. Leaders must show courage when doing the right thing and not what is expected by others. In the end your people will respect you and you will be the one they follow… because you slowed down.

If this makes sense, but you’d like to learn more about applying these principles to your situation, you can email medirect message me on linkedin or simply grab a few minutes on my calendar.  

I find through casual conversation leveraging The CEOs Compass often has all the answers for you to get back on track. 

The CEO’s Compass: Your Guide to Get Back on Track – If you’re that leader who feels in their gut something is off track, this could be the resource for you.

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Good Reads

In the spirit of the article to slow down, I’ve not been reading the  last few weeks. I have been thinking about what I’ve accomplished and given my mind air to let things flow out and give thought to the coming year. Good reads are helpful for inspiration, but at the moment, inspiration must come from within before we can move forward. I propose you take a moment or an hour to read what is inside your mind. There can be an amazing story worth reading. 

Good Music

Loyalty Remains by Veigar Margeirsson – when you listen to this song, there are images of a warrior riding a horse on rugged terrain towards a destiny. They briefly look back at where they’ve come from and then look forward to where they’re going. At this time of year, it’s important to realize your victories and those to be created. Enjoy this uplifting piece. 

Good Advice

“Because we are high-performers, so much of what we curate ourselves into is based on what we think the world expects. And that is a sure recipe to lose yourself.” -Tevis Trower