Schedule You on Your To Do List

| | Personal Leadership

Jane Perdue of The Braitewaite Group graciously agreed to guest post here.  Jane is a seasoned HR executive who is now making a difference through coaching, consulting and speaking.  She is also a fabulous writer – definitely check out her blog  Life Love Leadership.  Thank you Jane for sharing your wisdom here.  I am grateful to have you in my inner circle!

Schedule You on Your To Do List

You know how busy you get ascending that ladder of success – the constant swirl of activity focused on the business, your team, your department, results and outcomes.  Time for yourself?  Ah, we’ll try to work that in later. And that later never happens.

In the mid-1990’s I landed my first VP role, overseeing 2800 employees in two states.  For the first several months after the promotion, it was a mad dash of 80 hour work weeks and frenetic scrambling to make everything happen.  Then two firsts occurred in my life:  my very first 360 assessment followed by a sick leave.

The 360 feedback from my direct report team was cosmic two-by-four whack number one: you are an amazing leader but you make us exhausted and frustrated in trying to keep up with you.  Teach us what you know, show us the way and then let us make it happen. What an epiphany – I had been so busy doing, trying to make my post-promotion mark, that I had forgotten “to be” and to lead, not perpetually do.

The second cosmic two-by-four whack quickly followed.  That neck pain I’d been ignoring for months became jack-hammer unbearable and produced a new problem – the inability to grasp anything in my hands. Using a keyboard wasn’t possible nor was feeding myself (not an unreasonable antidote, I figured, for failing to maintain a regular exercise program…who had time for that?!).  The neurosurgeon declared my herniated disk the largest he had ever seen (always the over-achiever!).  Surgery – and recovery time – was the only solution.

The gift of feedback from my team coupled with the sick leave were humbling yet liberating personal and professional events. I learned the value of setting the tone and direction for my team but then stepping aside so they had ownership, responsibility and accountability – as well as the glow of success and the insights from failure.

I learned the value of self-care. A Harvard Business Review article on the “corporate athlete” totally resonated with me and influenced my thinking about relaxing.  The gist of the article was to train for work like an athlete trains for their sport, focusing on one’s mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. To that end, I worked with both a nutritionist and a personal trainer to develop eating and exercise programs that worked for me.  I adopted hobbies, reading, volunteering and other activities that enriched my mind and my soul.

At work, I created an engaging office environment with beautiful black-and-white photography on the walls, a desktop Zen sand garden, a small gurgling fountain and a small pile of toys close at hand.  I learned to not ignore the early warning signs of stress.  I took quick walks around the office, using that time to refocus and connect with others.

It took not one, but two, cosmic two-by-fours to capture my attention and get me focused on taking care of myself so I can more effectively nurture others. This quote from Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, keeps me on track: “If you think taking care of yourself is selfish, change your mind. If you don’t, you’re simply ducking your responsibilities.”

Schedule time for you…starting today!


Enter A Comment

Mike Henry Sr.   |   18 June 2010   |   Reply

Thanks Jane and Susan. Great post. We do often get what we need when we’re open to it. We often just don’t like the correction and the realization that we don’t know it all.


Susan Mazza   |   20 June 2010   |   Reply

I can especially relate to the not liking the correction part! And the more we resist accepting the correction, the more painful it is! Thanks for stopping by Mike.

Jane Perdue   |   01 July 2010   |  

Mike, Eric, Gwyn, Tara, Teri, Erin and Jann — it does my heart good to read your comments and see the appreciation for taking care of ourselves. We get so busy “doing” that we forget to make time for “being” — and the end result of that approach is, well, usually not good at all, for ourselves or those closest to us.

Susan — my deepest appreciation, admiration and affection to you for being a great role model and for providing my first opportunity to be a guest blogger. Woohoo!

Sending warm thoughts of health and vitality to all of you!

Erin Schreyer   |   26 June 2010   |   Reply

Ahhh, Jane! Thank you for sharing your beautiful message….that I SO need to be reminded of!! It’s so easy to go a million miles an hour and forget that there is, indeed, another option!!

Eric Werner   |   19 June 2010   |   Reply

Each new post makes me more and more glad that I signed up to get these in my email. This one in particular was well timed for me.

I am fairly active and 80% of the year I exercise enough. The other other 20% is usually because the pressures at work suggest that there isn’t enough time. That’s worth thinking about if it is especially important to keep the good habits during the most stressful 20%.

Susan Mazza   |   20 June 2010   |   Reply

Thank you Eric! I am really glad you are finding the entries here valuable.

Love how you said this “…the pressures at work suggest that there isn’t enough time” A great reminder to beware of letting outside forces dictate our choices, especially when it comes to our well being

Jann Freed   |   29 June 2010   |  

Years ago I read an article by Jim Collins where he talks about a “stop doing list” so that we can make a “to learn list.” We are so preoccupied with “to do lists” and we only have 24 hours. So what are we going to stop doing so that we have time to do what we want to do and to learn what we want to learn?

Gwyn Teatro   |   21 June 2010   |   Reply

Dear Jane and Susan,

This is a great story because it illustrates to me ,only too well, how leaving ourselves out can result in some pretty rude reminders that we count.
So often, we are so busy “doing” that we forget to take the time simply to “be”.
Thank you for the reminder.

Tara Alemany   |   22 June 2010   |   Reply

Great post! Thanks for sharing it. As a solopreneur and single Mom, I find that it’s easy to think “there’s no one to delegate to,” so I have to do it all. But I learned early the value of self-care. If I’m not taking care of myself, I can’t give my business or my kids my best effort. Therefore, I wholeheartedly agree with the value of scheduling in time for ourselves to do the things that nurture and fulfill us. Thanks again for reminding us of its importance.

Bernarda Jeanclaude   |   29 November 2010   |   Reply

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Teri Aulph   |   22 June 2010   |   Reply

I love this post and can relate to it completely. A large part of our professional evolution is discovering what we require in order to be at our best – both personally and professionally. You can never separate the two completely and, hopefully, one feeds and nurtures the other.