[Special Announcement: The leadership Mandate audiobook is in production and it will be ready in the next 4-6 weeks. I'm going through acx.com and Ben Cummins is narrating my book. Stay tuned for the release and special offers.]
It was an especially busy two years of my life. When I was working on my Bachelors of Human Development I was also had a full time job, was newly married, and volunteered 15-20 hours a week as a youth leader at my church.
The first part of this season was difficult because I was focusing more on outward actions while overlooking the responsibility of first leading myself. What started to happen was I began to be ineffective in all areas of my life. I was “burning the candle on both ends” and was on the verge of burning out.
It was the advice of my wife and a mentor who really helped me. They wisely informed me that I needed to cut back on some areas of my life so I could devote my attention to the most important areas of responsibility. Even though I enjoyed volunteering I had to cut back on the amount of hours I sent on that activity. It allowed me to better sharpen and lead my own life.
Effective leaders first take care of themselves. I’ve learned a person will be unsuccessful at leading if they fail to lead and manage themselves well. The person in the mirror should be the first and most important person you ever lead. If you want to take care of yourself you must “sharpen your saw.” In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Affiliate link) Stephen Covey shared a story that shows the importance of sharpening yourself:
“Suppose you came upon someone in the woods working to saw down a tree. They are exhausted from working for hours. You suggest they take a break to sharpen the saw. They might reply, ” I don’t have time to sharpen the saw, I’m busy sawing!”
Three areas every leader must consistently sharpen include your body, mind, and spirit. Let’s discuss each of those areas:
We should be good steward of the one and only body we have. Two key components to keeping your body share include regular exercise and choosing healthy eating options. In my friend Kimanzi Constable’s post Exercise And Your Dream he provides several benefits to exercising. Including:
- “It gives you more energy.”
- “It teaches you focus.”
- “You’ll live a longer life.”
- “You will especially need it with your dream.”
Take time to sharpen your body this week.
When a person stops sharpening their mind they will soon become ineffective. To sharpen your mind I suggest: getting out of your comfort zone on a regular basis, engaging in new experiences that are outside of your normal routine, and daily engage in personal growth and development. A sharpened mind allows you to stay sharp as a leader.
Dictionary.com defines spirit as “the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.” Every human has a soul that needs to be taken care of and nourished. The main way to sharpen your spirit is through God or spending time concentrating on your religious beliefs. Spending time praying, reading spiritual growth material, meditation, attending religious services or events will all feed your spirit (soul).
Question: How do lead yourself well and sharpen your saw?