The Every Day Leader: Leading on Empty

I was leaving in a hurry, trying to make an appointment on time, and jumped in the car started to take off when I noticed my gas light was on.

My quick calculation was that I would have enough to make it to the appointment and back so thinking nothing more of it I headed out. As I headed home I took a quick glance and to my dismay I had enough to make it only 2 more miles with more than a mile to go!  I began to wonder why I had waited to fill the car and if I would make it to the gas station up the road. Just as I pulled into the gas station my car died. The car was empty! You could almost hear the deep sigh as I opened the gas tank.

 And then it hit me…

 Not only did I push my car to the limit, but I knew that I have also done that to myself.  I rearrange, I get up early, I stay up late…. all to work more and do more.

How often to we as leaders get to the place where we are running on empty? How many times have we ignored ALL the signs?

 We push ourselves to the point of fitting so much into our schedules that we forget to take care of ourselves.

How about you, do you push until you are empty?

As leaders we need to always live intentionally and think and do differently.  Just as the car cannot move without the gas, neither can we.  We must fill ourselves up – emotionally, physically, relational, spiritually and mentally.

We must as leaders intentionally live healthy.  This means to eat well, exercise, invest in our relationships, take care of our emotional well-being, Invest in our spiritual well-being by spending time with God every day,  and we need to always be looking for ways to sharpen our mental skills.

I want to be that every day leader that chooses to live differently, knowing that when I am healthy I have more to give.  We must choose to  live a life that never leads on empty.

The every day leader, living a life of intention.  Taking care of ourselves, making a difference in those around us.

10 thoughts on “The Every Day Leader: Leading on Empty

  1. Like many things I’ve been too busy to do, I’ve been meaning to read this post for several weeks and finally did this morning after taking a weekend to myself. Even though I kept on top of the most important crisis situations while I was gone, I was also able to delegate several operational duties. All in all it went very well and I learned an important lesson. Let go once in a while and take a personal inventory. Waiting to read this blog was perfect timing after all.

  2. John,

    I think society as a whole rewards the workaholic. I am not sure why that is. We are so much more productive when we have a day of rest and work/life balance. Thanks for reading the blog and your great comments.

  3. Cathy, thanks for your insightful blog. I promise to check back regularly. I have worked as a CEO in the Nonprofit world for close to 30 years and counting. I’ve done countless accreditation and consulting audits around the US and Canada, and one thing is always common… senior leaders hardly ever take the time for themselves. Sometime Board members say that they value life-work balance for staff, but seem to reward staff that overwork and have little balance.

    It took me many years to learn this for myself, so I strive to get Boards to understand that their key staff work better when their tanks are “on full”. Thanks for helping to spread the word.


  4. Hi Laura,

    Thank you for taking time to read the blog and to comment, I so appreciate that. Though this is not a religious blog, I am a Christian and strive to always put Christ first in my life. This means that there will be times where I will speak more openly about Christ’s principles. Some may tune out and come back later and some may choose to debate what is said. I don’t seek to offend anyone on purpose but I also won’t compromise or hide what I believe for the sake of others.

  5. I’m one of those people who fills my gas tank when it gets down to half full. Somehow this also helps me avoid the sticker shock, too – even though intellectually I know this isn’t rational. I try to do the same in my work, not letting things get behind (though I am not always successful). I appreciate your comments and gentle reminders. However, your comments about spending time with God everday may not resonate with everyone. I happen to be a believer – but those who are secular can and do spend time meditating in a different way.

  6. Nan,

    Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. I am so glad you liked the post, that means so much. I hope it will help others as well.

  7. Cathy, this was fabulous – and very timely. Mike St sent it to me and I needed to hear it (maybe he knew this???). I also sent it onto my wonderful sister-in-law who gives so much of herself to others – all the time – that there is little left of her FOR her. I encouraged her to read it, then get a copy of Richard Swenson’s book “Margin” to reinforce the need to have balance in our lives and room to breathe. Thanks for writing something so important to ALL of us. Lovely…just like you!

  8. Thanks Cathy, I always need that gentle reminder to “stop and smell the roses”. Sometimes we think we are speaking to the choir but there are times the choir needs the reminder also. Have a great day!

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