Efficiency

Sleep on It: Why Rest and Restoration Are Essential to Successful Leadership

bed-bedroom-blanket-545017.jpg

Have you encountered a tired leader?  Have you ever noticed your own behavior or responses to your team when you are tired?  Short fuses, unexpected tensions, and distracted activity can be result of a lack of rest and a hindrance to the communication skills and culture you are seeking to build in your organization. 

Numerous studies show that sleep is critical to our health and wellness. Sleep researchers and health educators agree, making plans to get a good night helps us function at our best. In a recent article, Karen Engle, Ed.D. of the Rutgers Cooperative Extension observes: “Sleep, like diet and exercise, is important for our minds and bodies to function normally. In fact, sleep appears to be required for survival. Rats deprived of sleep die within two to three weeks, a time frame similar to death due to starvation.[1]

Yet many leaders continue to work long hours and late at night to get their work done.

Why?

Because it is a habit.

As Dr. Donna Arand, Clinical Director of the Kettering Medical Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, Ohio points out: “The body loves conditioning. It functions well with regular schedules.”  When we are out of the habit of regular sleep we acclimate to this new normal, and a shorter night of rest becomes our routine.

Leaders, I’d like to challenge you to think of your rituals of rest and restoration as even more important that your workout routine.

So, if you want to get your sleep habits back on track, here are some new habits to try and get your sleeping well again.

1.      Go to bed at the same time every day.

As Dr. Arand pointed out, the body loves conditioning. So let it know when it is time for bed!

2.      Have wind down rituals at the end of the day. 

Have you noticed that it is easier to rest when you are on a vacation? We are already wound down at the end of the day, because we didn’t get wound up with work. Our bodies need time to transition from wakefulness to sleep. The rest of the time we need to help ourselves wind down by giving our bodies some cues that it is time to rest and sleep. How do you wind down at night and get ready to head to bed?

3.       Sleep in a dark room.

“Even the light from the alarm clock can fool the brain into thinking it’s not sleep time,” says Dr. Carol Ash, medical director of Sleep for Life in Hillsborough, N.J. Leave the phone in another room. The blue light is not good for you after 7 pm anyway!

4.      Stay away from caffeine and alcohol.

I know, you don’t want to hear me say this, but take a break from the coffee and alcohol for 3 weeks and see how you feel. You will get a better night’s sleep and have more energy throughout the day. I promise.

And finally,

5.      Get up at the same time every day.

This habit of waking and resting will give your body great cues about when to get going and when to wind down.

With some intentional planning you can get your sleep schedule back on track. And if you need some motivation, try this quip from sleep researcher Dr. Carol Ash:

 “People think you can make up for bad habits,” says Dr. Ash. “But it’s like
only brushing your teeth on the weekends.”

Enough said!


[1] Karen Ensle, Ed.D, RD, FADA, CFCS in https://njaes.rutgers.edu/sshw/message/message.php?p=Health&m=74

A Coach Looks at 50

198753-425x285-Candle-number-50.jpg

January 31st, 2018 was a significant day in my house.

I turned 50 that day and I thought I would share a few reflections from hitting this monumental age. What did I do that day…I helped get our 3 kids that live at home to school. Checked in with our daughter in college. I went to an 8am coaching session with a client. I then traveled about 1 hour to lead an offsite with a new CEO and his executive team. My wife met me at the site and we had a nice dinner and evening of real, adult conversations. We did not celebrate with the kids until a few days later but that was by choice since they had basketball practice, church activities, etc.

What struck me was that this was a pretty normal day (except for the special dinner.) I woke up the next day, got a run in, did normal work and led another offsite that evening. Sounds almost boring, right? Except I loved it. I got to work with clients who I respect and admire what they are trying to do. I got to spend time with my fantastic family and I found time to get a run in. This led me to some interesting insights. This milestone birthday has touched more deeply than any other milestones. 18 and 21 seemed normal. 30—happily married; expecting a child; good job; 40-happily married; 4 children; busy lives but in the right place; 50-happily married; 1 kid in college; life moving fast; first time realizing that I may have lived more life than I have left to live…hmmm?!!

Other insights:

·       I do not think I will ever own a briefcase again

·       I am pretty sure I am done playing racquetball

·       I do not think I will ever own a 3 piece suit

·       I wonder how long I will continue to run 4-5 miles a day. If you had asked at 18 if I would still be running at 50, I would have thought you lost your mind!

·       How have I not gone to Ireland yet? (lots of Irish ancestors!)

·       I do not spend much time caring what others think of me

·       I feel pretty confident in almost all situations

·       I am so blessed to have my parent’s and my wife’s parents alive and in good health. I know this will probably not be the case at 60.

·       I love the work I get to do and will always do some form of this work

·       I spend more time on things I love to do vs. spending times on things I think should or ought to do (coaching sports with kids is great; serving on another volunteer board feels like a should right now.)

·       I am blessed with many friends and I wish I had time to see them more. I will work on seeing them more in my 50’s.

 

So what does this mean for you? I have found it helpful to sit on the back porch and reflect on my life. It has made me intentional in what I say yes to and what I should stop doing. I encourage you to take some time this year to pause and reflect on your life.

·       What activities are serving you best?

·       Who helps you be your best?

·       What blocks you from being your best?

·       Who is an energy vampire for you that you need to distance yourself from?

·       What are some things you would like to do in the next 2-3 years?

I love books and it is hard for me to let them go. However, the clutter was also making it hard for me to concentrate at times. I donated over 75 books and passed on another 50 to colleagues. It was really hard but I love having a clean bookshelf to fill up with new treasures. Another thought is, can you combine 2 things to help gain more efficiency? I love to run and I do not get to see my friends enough. I go on runs now with friends. I release the speed we are going and just enjoy the time to connect. They normally make me talk during the run, talk during lunch or with a beer afterwards. It works out well for us. How about you…what are finding in your life? Let me know and have an awesome 2018!

TRUST AND YOUR BOTTOM LINE

Trust has a bottom-line benefit because

1.      Trust turns groups into teams and

2.      Trust shortens the time it takes to get things done.

We are simply faster and more efficient when we trust people. (Stephen M.R. Covey makes a beautiful case for building trust in his book, The Speed of Trust:  the One Thing that Changes Everything.)

Let me describe two work environments.  You choose the one you would rather work in:

Workplace A

In this workplace, fear rules.  There is an absence of laughter, and stiffness in the way people move and speak.  Great care is taken before someone utters a word in a meeting.  You can almost see how tightly wound people are.  They are tethered to the demands and expectations of their job.  Duty and obligation define the day.

Workplace B

In this workplace, there is both swift movement and laughter.  People speak and move easily around one another.  Many ideas are put forward in meetings, and those ideas are challenged and refined by others present.  There is focus and engagement.  People are committed to a common cause, not in love with their own ideas.  A shared sense of purpose creates momentum in the organization.

The rest of this article will not help you if you would prefer Workplace A.

But if Workplace B appeals to you, here are 5 Tips to Cultivate Trust on Your Team.

1.      Ask questions for which you do not have an answer.

These kinds of questions show real curiosity and allow for creativity and collaboration.

2.      Share your desired outcome openly at the outset of the meeting or conversation.

This allows people to relax because they know what your expectations are from the beginning.

3.      Honestly share and discuss the threats and obstacles that are present.

Open discussion shrinks our fear, making the real challenges easier to overcome.

4.      Listen.  Actively.

Your act of listening calms everyone in the room, you included.  Listen to learn and understand.

5.      Celebrate success.

Notice and celebrate the successes on your team as shared successes of the team.  This simple pivot ties individual achievements to the entire group, and allows people to enjoy the successes of others more deeply.  It is easier to build team spirit when we share the wins!

When trust begins to emerge in a workplace, the pace of that workplace increases for one simple reason:  distrust takes time.  Do you want your people spending their time thinking of ways to protect themselves from colleagues and criticism or would you rather have your people spend that time and energy working on your business? Building trust has a bottom line:  trust increases the pace by decreasing the friction between people and teams.  The dividends of trust are both speed and creativity.  It pays to cultivate trust on your team.