Filling Yourself Up to Lead – Resourcing for Resilience

Do you take a regular lunch break?

How many other business leaders do you know who take a regular break during the day?

One team we worked with told us they kept emergency pot noodles tucked away in a draw for their fantastic boss, so there was some kind of food for him when he ran out of steam!

At Fresh Air Fridays, we work with so many brilliant leaders who invest in their staff to support their wellbeing, yet struggle to make time for themselves because their workload is too high.

It’s really understandable to feel overloaded when there are meetings to attend, reports to write and teams to look after, but when we try to carry an unsustainable workload two things happen.

Firstly, we are hiding the fact that the system is flawed if it requires a ridiculously large workload and secondly, we are giving our staff a message, loud and clear, that it’s OK to do too much.

We can talk about getting it right for people, but unless we lead by example we are serving no one. Wellbeing has to start from the top of an organisation, if it’s not demonstrated by the leaders it becomes harder for staff to believe it’s the right thing to do.

Fill Yourself Up First

One of our core wellbeing principles is to “fill yourself up first”. Two simple metaphors describe this well.

On a plane, in case of an emergency, they ask you to put your own oxygen mask on first, making sure you take care of yourself before you try to help others.

The common saying, “you can’t pour from an empty pot” describes the same idea, that you need to see to your own needs to enable you to care for others.

Both of these things are proved true when it comes to wellbeing. If we believe that we must consistently and continuously do for others without resourcing ourselves, the likelihood is that at some point something will give. Whether that is mental burnout, physical ill health or some other crisis.

So what can we do?

The first step is awareness and this needs some consideration. We believe that it’s important to regularly check in with yourself to understand what your needs are, but if you are feeling overwhelmed with work you may need to ease yourself in gently. Take a moment, we would always recommend a short walk, but it may simply be while sitting at traffic lights, to ask yourself: “What would looking after me look like? What would filling me up involve?”

If you have no idea, just notice you have no idea. If something unexpected comes up, don’t react, just take a minute to consider it. Over the course of a few days or weeks keep gently asking yourself this question – your subconscious will be working on it anyway without much conscious effort from you. When you come up with some ideas, make it a priority to try some of them out. Schedule time on your calendar to make sure it happens.

And then keep making time for it, this isn’t a one-hit wonder. We encourage everyone to regularly check in with themselves to see how they’re doing, what level their petrol gauge is at. Be aware that our needs change over time, so what is working now may be different in the future.

Wherever this exploration takes you, remember that the people around you, your teams, your family, and friends, are much more likely to take notice of what you do, rather than what you say, so if you want to create wellbeing in your workplace, you need to start with you.

For more information about any of the ideas we have shared here, either for you, your staff or your leadership team please get in touch.


This was originally published as an article on LinkedIn:

written by

Saranne Postans