Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pneumonia, Leadership, Oxygen masks, and a Mea Culpa

I recently was diagnosed with pneumonia. I must give the plea of "mea Culpa" here. You see, in the world of leadership, it is clear if one does not take care of oneself, then one cannot take care of others. The late Stephen Covey eloquently described this as intrapersonal leadership. This is the idea that in order to lead others, one must be willing to lead himself or herself.  I must confess, I have set out to take care of others so much so that I have neglected my own body. After consecutive weeks of 60+ hours of work as a school leader, time set aside to work on a doctoral dissertation, time set aside to be a dad and a husband, I have had very little time to take of myself. I really have no excuses here. I know what I need to do but, I must confess that I have an addiction to please others and stretch myself too thin in the process. I even know practical strategies such as what Dave Crenshaw, time management guru, has discovered that most time over 40 hours a week spent at work is actually "unproductive" time. Because I know some of these strategies and some of this knowledge already... Hence my "mea Culpa."

What has happened is the exact opposite of what I intended. Instead of taking care of others, I am now sidelined and forced to take care of myself with the doctor's orders to rest and not work. You see, I believe we all make this mistake at one time or another. We set out to take care of others and what happens in turn (if we do not care for our own wellbeing) is that we CANNOT EVEN TAKE CARE OF ANYONE ELSE until we are well. Again, Stephen Covey has shed light onto this conundrum. It is worth taking a closer look. If you consider yourself a leader or an influencer, you must shoot for a win/win. You must win with your own health so you can continue to stay in the game and help others instead of being sidelined to rest and recover due to illness. Where did I found myself after the neglect of my own personal well being? I found myself not helping others at work because I was sidelined.... A lose. I found myself not being my best for my wife and my child because I had to medicate and rest... A lose for my family in some regard.

Ultimately, I was trying too hard to place the oxygen mask on the face of others in order to be the hero and helper.  The neglect of leading myself started to affect me in terms of "suffocation" in the form of illness as a result of neglect for my own body. As I reflect, I need to plan on taking care my own health and well being: spiritually, emotionally, psychologically, and physically if I am going to truly take care of others, truly going to lead, to influence.

What do you think? What do you need to change in order to more effectively lead and influence others?

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