I decided on a random Tuesday in January of 2022 that it’s never too late to be the most active participant in my life.
I started walking out the front door every day for a short walk. I added time and activities. In May of 2022, I started a streak of moving at least 30 minutes every day. While on vacation last month, I hit 365 days in a row.
I sat overlooking the beach in Luqillo, Puerto Rico, and reflected on the leadership lessons that have nothing to do with the physical and mental benefits of this streak. I have a list of about 15 leadership lessons from this year, but let’s start with these three:
#1 Habits and rhythms reduce decision fatigue
I didn’t have to decide if I was going to move my body. Or really even when I was going to move my body. I established the rhythm of Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday mornings and Thursday, Saturday, Sunday afternoons workouts.
I wasn’t each day trying to fit in a trip to the gym or a walk around the block. What I found is I established other rhythms that further reduced my need to decide daily activities.
Americans make approximately 35,000 choices a day. Leaders make at least an additional 1,500 decisions. Reducing the friction of choices reduces the overwhelm you and your team experience. Create rhythms for you and your team. This doesn’t mean inflexibility. But it does mean not immediately flexing!
For example, you need to have regular 1:1 meetings with your team member. You can schedule that each week, or you can create that in a rhythm, such as Thursdays at 2pm.
When someone else asks for a meeting at that time, practice saying, “I can’t at that time. Could you do xyz time?” Especially with clients or bosses we just assume we need to bend to their convenience. This creates an unhealthy dynamic and adds to your decisions. Stick with your rhythms and reduce decision fatigue.
#2 Consistency doesn’t mean the same effort every day
Consistency doesn’t mean the same effort every day.
Some days I did intense strength training for 30-40 minutes. On other days, I walked my neighborhood at a leisurely pace. The effort required to do Apple+ fitness coach Kyle’s crazy leg workout was significantly more than an unhurried stroll around the block a few times. It’s just as unhealthy for my muscles for excess exertion every single day as it is for you and your team to give 110% every day. It’s the consistency of activity, rest, and recovery that bring change.
There should be space for slow-paced days as much as there are bursts of activity. Look at your quarter, then month, week, and day. Are there intentional periods of less activity? Do you need to reset expectations and deadlines? Do you need more daily short breaks to reset? How can you show up consistently without seeing yourself or others as “lazy” if some days have less activity than others?
#3 Support systems make or break your success
I know my Apple watch is not a human (even though she talks to me a lot!), but she is of the “equipment suite” that supported change. I also needed systems and people. My family supported me (and often came with me!), as well as some professionals. I’m 100% positive I would have given up without the right support. The idea is that you share the goal and then work with the tools and people to support that goal.
You need support as a leader, but do you and your team have the right support? Do you need a retreat to reset and work on your leadership with peers? Do you need accountability from a coach? Do you need more resources from your organization? Do you need a regular priority check-in? What tools do you need so you lower obstacles and increase success? And back to number one, what of that can you automate to facilitate connection without losing quality? The John Wayne/Lone Ranger American myth is an unhelpful leadership model. You need support, and so do your people. Support doesn’t make you weak. Support literally creates a solid foundation so you can do your best work.
With my leadership coach hat on, can I ask you a question?
Which one of these is the hardest for you to believe? Which one bubbles reasons why that won’t work? Which one brings up stories about your worth as a leader?
I encourage you to chose that change to try. Reply and let me know: what’s the one next step you’ll take toward being a healthier leader?