When it comes to leadership, I am convinced that the most important person you will ever lead is yourself.
If you can't effectively lead yourself to accomplish your goals and objectives, how can you reasonably expect that you would be able to lead someone else to accomplish theirs?
Those who see you as their leader are watching you, and if they see that you are unable to lead yourself, over time, their respect for you will decline and your ability to lead them effectively will eventually erode.
With this reality of leadership in mind, one of the most important areas you must lead yourself in is...rest. Because no one can rest for you, because no one can force you to rest, you must establish and execute, for yourself, a rhythm of rest.
One of the greatest gifts you can give to the team you lead is your emotional energy, and if you do not have adequate rest, emotional energy will be something you do not have the capacity to give.
Several years ago, I was "sold" on the idea of making rest a priority by Pastor Rick Warren when he outlined the following recommended "rhythm of rest."
- Divert Daily - Every day break away from your work to do something you enjoy.
- Withdraw Weekly - Every week take a full 24 hours straight to disconnect from your work entirely.
- Quarantine Quarterly (I added this one, and couldn't think of another "Q" word that would work!) - Though this wasn't a part of Rick Warren's plan, I recommend that every quarter you take 2-3 days to "get away" to think, plan, pray, rest, and do whatever else you need to do to recharge. I used the word "quarantine" because, as an introvert, I like the quarterly break to be in isolation!
- Abandon Annually - Every year take at least a week or two and go on a vacation! Leave the laptop at home, set up an email auto-responder, put your cell phone away, and take this opportunity to remind yourself that your work, your organization, and your team will be just fine without you!
If you're not yet convinced that establishing a rhythm of rest is important, I will leave you with this closing thought:
If you do not choose to rest, your body will eventually shut down and force you to rest.
The question you must ask yourself is, "Do I want my rest to be an intentional, proactive choice or a forced, reactive response?"
Choosing the former will surely strengthen your leadership ability, becoming a victim of the latter will indefinitely cripple it.