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Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life

We all understand the importance of and need for self-care in our professional and personal lives. And yet, many of us, however well-intentioned, struggle to sufficiently define and follow-through on self-care regimes that rejuvenate and sustain us (especially during times of peak stress). During these periods of intense flux, we run the risk of increased levels of anxiety, fatigue and unsupportive self-talk coupled and reinforced by self-doubt. All of these lead to, at best, showing up sub-optimally to, at worst, burnout and the associated manifestations of physical, psychological and emotional exhaustion.

This week we examine an array of self-care topics, a variety of perspectives and pragmatic counsel on how we can recalibrate our expectations and reduce our anxieties and negative fantasies/self-talk. Instead, let’s focus on authentic and re-enforceable approaches to achieve sustainable well-being grounded in self-compassion.

As noted in the first article below, focusing on work-life integration, as opposed to work-life balance (and the often unrealistic and painful tradeoffs required to achieve balance), can be an effective way to improve performance and satisfaction across the domains of work, home, community, and self. If we adopt a whole person vantage point, we can begin to look for and implement the most effective ways to optimize performance while achieving ‘four-way wins.’ Most importantly, we can “… create sustainable change to benefit not just you but the most important people around you.”

Final notes – the Freakonomics podcast is outstanding. Stephen Dubner interviews the two physician authors of the book Compassionomics (The Revolutionary Scientific Evidence that Caring Makes a Difference). Interesting implications for society at large as well and worth a listen. And the visualization of the future of the Champs-élysées in Paris (it will be transformed into a massive garden following the 2024 Olympic Games) is stunning!


Be a Better Leader, Have a Richer Life. “…By providing a blueprint for how you can be real, be whole, and be innovative as a leader in all parts of your life, this program helps you perform better according to the standards of the most important people in your life; feel better in all the domains of your life, and foster greater harmony among the domains by increasing the resources available to you to fit all the parts of your life together.”

Be Kinder to Yourself. “Talking to yourself with self-compassion will help you deal with a raft of challenging situations, including those you experience personally and those you need to help your employees or kids through. To use it effectively, follow these practices to build specific, personalized habits of self-compassionate talk: give yourself a gentle and supportive nudge by asking yourself what you need in the moment; use irreverence to challenge your beliefs; reframe a trait or tendency to take a more balanced view; identify your patterns of self-sabotage; borrow language from friends, quotes, or proverbs; and write scripts for common scenarios.”

How to Channel Your Mind’s Inner Chatter. “…I review the different tools that exist for helping people resolve the tension between getting caught in negative thought spirals and thinking clearly and constructively. [There] are several tools that you might try out to help calm your own chatter and to provide chatter support to others.”

Is Self-Sabotage Burning You Out? “There are many causes of work-related burnout — some are out of our control, but there are others that we can battle as long as we’re aware of them…The traps include: being overly adaptable and trying to please people; being a perfectionist and holding yourself to unreasonably high standards; imposter syndrome or feeling like we’re not cut out for our job; engaging so much with work that we don’t leave time for other endeavors, and feeling like we don’t have agency to change our situation. By taking steps to counteract these traps, you have a much better chance of avoiding burnout.”

How Imposter Syndrome Can Be Your Secret Weapon At Work. “It strikes most of us—both men and women—at different points in our careers. You’re successful, but you feel like a fraud at work. You’re paralyzed by self-doubt…It’s called imposter syndrome, and according to one study, it’s estimated that 70 % of the U.S. population has experienced it…While many experts argue that one should work to ‘overcome’ imposter syndrome, it is actually something that should be embraced. Because imposter syndrome typically doesn’t go away. It stays with you. The sooner you make friends with your imposter, the sooner you can transform it into your most powerful secret weapon.”

Feeling anxious? The way you breathe could be adding to it. “All this research illustrates just how much influence our body has on our mind. Modern life brings many things to be worried about, but, as Nestor writes, not being able to breathe remains one of our deepest and most primal anxieties. If somehow the way we’re breathing is signaling to our brains that something is wrong, it’s no wonder we feel anxious — and it’s no wonder all these breathing techniques can bring such profound healing.”

How to Lead When Your Team Is Exhausted— and You Are, Too. “…Leaders should focus on three areas: understanding the difference between urgency and importance, and focus on the latter; be compassionate while also driving your employees to action by channeling their feelings of defiance, anger, and frustration. Finally, change things up every single day with a focus on energizing your team.”


Freakonomics Radio: How Do You Cure a Compassion Crisis? “Patients in the U.S. healthcare system often feel they’re treated with a lack of empathy. Doctors and nurses have tragically high levels of burnout. Could fixing the first problem solve the second? And does the rest of society need more compassion too?”

Blog Posts

Amy Edmonson on LinkedIn: “One of my favorite depictions of #psychological safety. Which have you got going, a vicious cycle or a virtuous circle? See more from the oh so talented @uenlinotes, over on Instagram.”

Rich Litvin: “You are…”

Arts, Music & Culture Corner

Mona Lisa Is Alone, but Still Smiling. “With the Louvre closed because of the pandemic, museum officials are pushing ahead on a grand restoration and cleanup.”

This pop-up theater wants you to enjoy live music in the COVID-19 era. “And it’s from architects who have designed live performances for Beyoncé, U2, and The Rolling Stones.”

Paris to turn Champs-élysées into ‘extraordinary garden’ after the 2024 summer Olympics. “The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, has announced a €250 million plan to revamp one of the city’s most famous landmarks — the Champs-élysées. Often referred to as the most beautiful avenue in the world, the 1.9km (1.2mile) long avenue will be transformed into an ‘extraordinary garden’, offering a place of experience and contemplation for Parisians and tourists alike.”

The painter Vincent van Gogh on taking action:

“I tell you, if one wants to be active, one mustn’t be afraid to do something wrong sometimes, not afraid to lapse into some mistakes. To be good — many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm — and that’s a lie, and you said yourself in the past that it was a lie. That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity…

You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter, “You can’t do anything.” The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerizes some painters so that they turn into idiots themselves. Many painters are afraid of the blank canvas, but the blank canvas is afraid of the truly passionate painter who dares — and who has once broken the spell of “You can’t.”

Life itself likewise always turns towards one an infinitely meaningless, discouraging, dispiriting blank side on which there is nothing, any more than on a blank canvas. But however meaningless and vain, however dead life appears, the man of faith, of energy, of warmth, and who knows something, doesn’t let himself be fobbed off like that. He steps in and does something…”

Source: Ever Yours: The Essential Letters

Kevin Jordan

Kevin Jordan is an International Coach Federation-certified executive coach who serves as a strategic advisor, mentor and facilitator to executive leadership teams and private clients to achieve peak performance and agility resulting in sustained engagement and value. Drawing upon a career as a leader and consultant, Kevin is able to work with clients on personal and professional development, relationship optimization and team and leader dynamics. He has deep expertise and experience developing and realizing strategic vision through a relentless focus on optimized business operations. He is also skilled at building sustainable culture and workforce engagement through the power of people and organizational partnership, as well as delivering results and value with high performing teams during periods of intense change.

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