My company, Management Services Northwest, has been a member of BSCAI for more than 10 years. Each January, the BSCAI holds their annual CEO Seminar in a warm and beautiful destination. As a longtime member, I’ve had the privilege of attending many of these conferences, and I find that January is a great time of year to take a respite from the winter in the U.S. Northwest.
I chaired the 2014 CEO seminar on the gorgeous Caribbean island of St. Martin, where I came up with the theme of “Rejuvenate Yourself, Recharge Your Business.” The marketing staff switched the order of the words around, placing “Recharge Your Business” first, since it is a business-oriented event. I disagreed. Unless we as individuals are operating at our highest possible energy levels, we simply have no ability to “recharge” or bring new life to our work.
Consider the word rejuvenation: Webster’s definition is “to make (someone) feel or look young, healthy, or energetic again;” and “to give new strength or energy to (something).”
Couldn’t we all use a little rejuvenation? Those in leadership positions are often confronted with especially high levels of stress and pressure that can lead to exhaustion if not well managed. How wonderful it would be to truly rejuvenate ourselves—to feel young and healthy again, with a new strength and energy for both our business and families.
In the book The Power of Full Engagement, authors Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz note that, “We live in a world that celebrates work and activity, ignores renewal and recovery, and fails to recognize that both are necessary for sustained high performance.” They suggest that when performing at our highest levels, we are drawing from four separate sources of energy—physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—and we should be disciplined in the regular use and renewal of these energy sources. They suggest that if we manage these resources effectively, we can build the capacity to live a more productive, fully engaged life.
In my own life and in working with and observing other executives, I’ve found that in order to be most effective in our businesses, it is imperative to take time for regular personal renewal. Perhaps as a result of personal beliefs or societal dogma, we often think personal renewal is only for those who deserve it—an award for some achievement. The rest of us who are undeserving wear the hours worked every week like a badge of honor, boasting of our 70 or 80 hours at the office.
What would it look like in your life if you turned this around? What if instead of looking at the time for your personal rejuvenation as a reward for certain work accomplished, you saw it as a key ingredient to effective leadership and as the path to achieve significant improvement and results in your business?
Those in leadership positions face many forces that compete for our time and energy. It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of overworking to the point of exhaustion, rarely taking time for our own renewal. As a busy executive, I have decisively and purposefully incorporated such recovery time into my schedule. One of my habits at the beginning of each calendar year is to schedule blocks of renewal time over the entire year. Occasionally, I may need to adjust some of these dates, but when I have to take away from one of my scheduled renewal times, I simply move it to another date, instead of deleting it.
Another way I have found rejuvenation in my own life is through positive habits or rituals that provide a break from my work routine. My parents instilled many positive renewal rituals into my life that I continue to practice with my own family today. Growing up, we had regularly scheduled meals together as a family. Even my father, who was incredibly busy running his own dairy farm, would take a break each evening for the family meal. If there was more work to be done, he would go back out to the farm after dinner, but he would religiously spend this time with us. Sunday was set aside as a day of rest, and my parents had strict rules for the type of activities allowed in order to provide the optimal amount of rest and renewal for the week ahead. Though I sometimes fought those boundaries as a child, I now look back and recognize what a gift they were. We also took at least one week every year for a family vacation, and all family members participated. By continuing to follow rituals such as these, I have found it naturally creates a time of renewal that I would not sacrifice.
Taking the time for rejuvenation is key to effective leadership. We set an example for those around us. We certainly want to bring our best selves to work. When we are fresh and operating with peak energy, we create a positive environment for our team, where they too can flourish. We approach work with renewed vigor and creativity. Others see our renewed passion—and this passion is electric and contagious. Imagine the ripple effect we could have on our team when we showed up with this ideal level of energy and enthusiasm. Imagine what we could accomplish if others followed our example—improving results, increasing morale, even having fun at work!
Those leaders in their autumn years don’t wish they had spent more hours at the office. Instead, they regret not taking more time with their family. They regret missing out on that important event in a friend’s life. They regret not taking that bucket-list vacation.
Commit to scheduling regular time for rejuvenation. By faithfully renewing our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual selves, we will develop increased energy for our work, our team, and our families. The result is the capacity to live more highly engaged and truly satisfying lives.
Janelle Bruland, CBSE, is President & CEO of Management Services Northwest, which offers a full range of facility services to its clients.