How often do you invest in yourself? Really!
Long ago, a wise leader asked: What does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? The two questions haunt me—on both a personal and a professional level. I know firsthand the paradoxical experience of outward success and inward emptiness. I can attest to the cost of pouring myself out in service, only to wake up drained of compassion and devoid of energy.
As leaders, we enter our work in response to a deep-rooted sense of call. In the very fiber of our being is the desire to make a difference—the yearning to bear transformation—into the life of individual, community and world. In the strength of our passions and gifts, we become leaders charged with the oversight of many. For most of us, the strength of our call carries us through the first five or ten or even fifteen years, until one day they we wake up spent and emptied, wondering, “what is it all about?” It is then that Jesus’ question rises to the surface of consciousness: “What does it profit if you gain the whole world and lose your soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?”
Richard Boyatzis and Annie McKee reflect on the cost sacrificing too much for too long: “The constant sacrifices and stress inherent in effective leadership can cause us to lose ourselves and sink into dissonance […] slowly, over many years, we lose touch with who we are and what we really care about, and one day we find we are not ourselves anymore.” The tender reality is that when leaders, in any profession, find themselves trapped in the sacrifice syndrome, mere rest and relaxation is not sufficient.
Restoration…renewal will only come through the intentional practice of mindfulness, compassion, hope and play. When a leader loses his or her soul, it is costly to retrieve. As pastors and elders, we have a responsibility to be attentive to the care of our souls. Until (and unless), we attend to the care of soul, the spiritual transformation of team, congregation, and community will remain impossible. How will you gift yourself with sufficient time apart to awaken anew to yourself and to Source?
Business Laureate Hall of Fame Dee Hock challenges leaders to calculate how much time and energy they invest in each of these directions—people beneath them, over them, peers, and leading themselves. His recommendation is that “we should invest 50% of our leadership amperage into the task of leading ourselves; and the remaining 50% should be divided into leading down, leading up, and leading laterally.” Daniel Goldman, in his study of leadership potential, has found that has found that self-leadership is the root cause of why most leaders hit a plateau far from their full potential.
Leadership begins with investing in yourself; in knowing who we are and allowing that to inform our doing. We have the power to cast either shadow or light. As leaders, we create the ethos in which others must live: one of light in which people flourish and grow or one that is a living hell. What sort of ethos are you creating?
How are you connecting to Source—for care of both your soul and the people with whom you serve?