“Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.” unknown author This quote is one of the few magnets I own. I like it because it helps me remember that regardless of outside influences peacefulness is an option. As leaders it is vital that we not only create a culture of productivity, but one of wellness and peace.
Chronic stress creates very real biological responses that create a host of obstacles including but not limited to: high blood pressure, stroke, depression, headaches, rapid breath, rage and the list goes on and on and on. Now look at the serene picture, take a deep breath, and relax. Stress is a natural response to living and can bring about many positives such as prioritizing, energy, and increased focus. In this article from the Harvard Business Review, James Bailey explores the ways leaders manage stress and some thoughts on why only 50 % of those interviewed encourage their followers to follow suit.
The good news- it only takes 20-30 minutes a day to diminish the negative effects of stress. The four categories of renewal examined are: health ex. sleep, removal ex. a ball game , intellectual acts ex. crossword puzzles, and introspection ex. reflection/prayer. 79% of executives say it is important to renew while only 50% encourage it and 35% have programs to support it.
This is an opportunity for us to commit to leading by example so that everyone in our path knows it is vital to take care for themselves which in turn will allow them then brain power to pause and consider opportunities for growth, our school vision and goals. I think there are simple ways to encourage a culture of renewal. During business hours we could have music playing in the teacher’s lounge or a puzzle to walk by and work on in the library.Perhaps have a sunshine group of teachers who look for ways to increase this in our school. Also, key is establishing yourself as a leader who says yes to renewal. Some ways may include encouraging people to pause by canceling a meeting and giving the gift of time or supporting employees who want to begin an after school walking group, prayer group, or off site hang out times.
Many leaders do not share how they decompress for fear of seeming weak or less of a leader. There is this underlying culture of thought “must be nice to have time to take a walk or work on a puzzle or to hang out at the pumpkin patch” The really passionate leaders arrive early, stay late and never take a day off. Really? More like crash and burn and certainly not very human. This makes me think of being on an airplane and the attendant instructing passengers that if the cabin loses pressure first take a breath of oxygen before assisting others. As leaders, we need to be confident enough to recognize that servant leadership does not mean running until we collapse and that taking time to refresh does not diminish our commitment to work hard. Peace.