Let me ask you a question…. As the business owner, leader, manager, the head honcho, how important is ‘self-care’ to you? In fact, what does self-care even mean to you?
Why am I asking you this? And what on earth does this have to do with your team and your business success?
Well I wanted to let you in on a little background and share my experience in realising just how important this is to our success as business owners. I wanted to share this with you because I was there, I was doing all of the things, all of the time and thought I was smashing it! I had it totally under control and was moving forward and building my empire (yes literally that was my mantra, I’m not even joking).
But do you know what, I was on the fast train towards burnout and I couldn’t see it, and in fact it took one of my team to not so subtly let me know that I wasn’t being the best leader, manager or business owner I could be.
Was my business successful at the time? Absolutely! By all of the typical measures. We had grown on average 30% year on year for the first 6 years, the growth by all accounts proved the success. The team had grown, we had moved offices more times than I cared to count because we kept growing out of our space and had finally landed in our ‘forever office’ which we owned, had ample room for growth and we could really make our own.
So what was the problem? Put simply I was allllll in on the business, to the detriment of every other aspect of my life. Ultimately this was not going to be sustainable and I realised that if I didn’t make a change I was never going to be able to continue to build and grow, and be a great boss to my team.
Here is the thing I know now that I wish I knew then – you can’t pour from an empty cup. If you are not getting what you need to recharge and reenergise yourself, you can not possibly give your team what they need from you. Why do you think the airlines (remember those?) tell us to put our own air mark on before helping others? Because until we are safe and well – we can not possibly help anyone else – this includes our team.
So, despite the absolute chaos that was happening in my personal life at the time, I made the very deliberate decision to dedicate time to looking after myself. Did I have the mum guilts? Um that is a firm yes! Did I have the business owner guilts, absolutely, but I quickly realised that I needed to set the right example for my people.
For me, this decision was to take up running. Why running? I truly have no idea, I have never been a ‘runner’ before, this was not something I did growing up, but it was easily accessible, I could fit it in any time, there was no cost, no need to attend a class and I actually quite like being outdoors, so it seemed to fit. Now I can tell you I could not run a kilometre at the time, no chance. But I just made this part of my routine, this became a non negotiable, and in fact very quickly it became clear that the running had a HUGE benefit on my mental health more than anything. I felt calmer, more in control and more ready to tackle the day. When I didn’t run for a few days, I’d begin to get tense, stressed and snappy with my team. I learnt quickly that this self-care practice was critical to making me a better leader, business person and strategist.
Now for you running may absolutely not be the thing, but find your thing, and make it a priority. Spending 100% of your time in your business might feel like the right thing to do, focusing on your team ahead of yourself may seem the best way forward, putting yourself last may seem selfless.
However, what I have learnt, and what I know from the other business owners, leaders and managers who have shared similar stories is this: those who prioritise self-care, and make it a daily practice, smash it in their business and in their life. This may not be an easy decision, it will require courage, but this courage to prioritise self care really will make you a better leader, and will ultimately boost the performance of your team as a result.
Are you a business owner, leader or manager who has (or is having) these struggles, who understands the importance of self care or wants to connect with other business owners who get the guilt and challenges that come with this? I’d love you to connect with us over on Facebook in our free group, HR Support for Australian Businesses, where like minded business owners are hanging out.