When Is the Last Time You Took Time Out for You?

Written by Nancy Parsons

Most jobs, whether in leadership or professional roles, have a mix of demanding, fascinating, complex, challenging, tiring, and hopefully, rewarding responsibilities. Understandably, many executives that I coach are so caught up in the chase, that they seldom have time to think about themselves. This is particularly true of executive women who wear so many hats. Having to focus on daunting business goals, tackling tough problems, bottom line issues, while keeping teams moving productively, isn’t easy. Then squeeze in family and personal life after a tedious commute or a long day leaves no time or energy to take stock on how you are doing, personally.
This may sound a bit odd, but frequently when I work on action planning steps with female executives, the most pressing matter is more about pushing her them to begin having some fun again or on getting balance back in their lives. Much of the time, this discussion centers around self-care and getting out of the rat race sufficiently on a regular basis to refresh and regain energy and to enjoy life. Of course, there are typically some skill refinements to develop, but not until the leader takes a step back to the basics of being good to herself or himself.
Last week, I was inspired by another such coaching experience. The leader was excited to start the New Year with our deep dive coaching debrief and discussion. This reminded me that what we do during the assessment coaching debrief is like a “spa treatment” for the leader’s wellbeing.

Most often, leaders don’t step away from their demanding jobs long enough to take a good walk, let alone have such an in-depth and inspiring personal growth experience. Furthermore, most leaders never take the time to understand themselves and the innate characteristics that set them apart. We also help them understand their naturally occurring risk traits that can impede their effectiveness. Last, we focus on what drives them to excel and find their work rewarding, making sure they are working in ways that energize them. This is inspiring because it opens up thinking, fresh ideas, and needed “aha” moments for every leader. This helps leaders get unstuck, get off the treadmill of demands, find new solutions to issues, and helps them reset their own best course.
You’d be surprised how many leaders are somewhat lost on understanding their own inherent capabilities, risks and needs. They are working so hard and are pulled in so many directions, they lose the true essence of themselves. Most never take the time to become fully self-aware. In fact, a study of 5,000 participants reported in HBR by Tasha Eurich that “Only 10 to 15% of people actually are self-aware.”[i]

Our type of coaching debrief, with the in-depth CDR 3-D Suite of Assessments takes 2.5 to 3 hours to complete. Naturally, executives typically balk at scheduling this block of time – it is an immense imposition to them. Yet, once we are in the debrief discussion, they lose sense of time, the dread disappears. They immerse in the moment – and a past due needed moment indeed! That is how powerful and enriching the process is when gaining a clear understanding of your unique blueprint of inherent capabilities, needs, and ineffective coping strategies.

It is so easy to get stuck running through the motions when we lose touch with or do not recognize what is best about ourselves. We may not be leveraging our special gifts and talents and instead we might be grinding through by working mostly in a gap area. That is a rough way to go and is counterproductive. Additionally, leaders lose sight of what they love and enjoy. They are so busy and determined to perform that they have lost much of the joy in what they do. They become stressed, tired, and often feel boxed in. Interestingly, one of the best stress relievers is to work in ways that tap into your own intrinsic motivators – this transforms work into enjoyment and fulfillment. The good news is that it is tough to be stressed when you are feeling invigorated and rewarded by the work you are doing. We help leaders discover this.

So, back to my original question – when is the last time you took time out for you? Maybe it is about time you did. You will thank me for this essential “spa experience” for your leadership wellbeing.

P.S. We have a large cadre of coaches who can provide this type of deep-dive debrief!


 [i] Eurich, Tasha, https://hbr.org/2018/01/what-self-awareness-really-is-and-how-to-cultivate-it