Some lessons aren’t taught as part of a structured course commissioned by your HR team. The lessons you often need are the ones you take for granted. Either you think you already know them, or that they’re unrelated and therefore irrelevant to your ability to lead your organisation. Don’t be so short-sighted. I tell my clients this: If you want to stay one step ahead, or even in sync with your people, work on the below.
I’m informed by some very reliable sources, that Westerners use only a tiny fraction of their lung capacity when they breathe. Whether that matters to you or not, one thing that should matter is understanding that your breath is not simply a tool to keep yourself alive. Learn to pay attention to it, it’s rhythms and its varying depths. Anxiety and tension can be relieved by learning to control these. The key is to practice before you get tense or anxious, so you can deal with situations more efficiently and with minimal stress.
Leave things half done, finish them tomorrow
Whilst you may think it’s commendable to stick with a particular task straight through to the end, that’s only the case if you’re doing it because you want to. If you can’t leave your desk without feeling like a deserter or you spend time frustrated and worried about the task you left behind, then you need to be kinder to yourself. Start by pressing your pause button on the less important jobs, take a walk halfway through, go to get some dinner. You will get back to these jobs, they’re not going anywhere. Control work, don’t let it control you.
Avoid the news for one morning
The first thing a majority of my clients do when they wake up is check what’s new in the world. It’s well known that how you start your morning can massively impact your day. I urge you to give up this negativity at least once a week. Start your day instead, by reading something enjoyable you have planned to read. It might be a bookmarked article online or a saved article from the Sunday magazine you never got around to. Make it light and positive. Remember that this amnesty also includes the radio, put on a piece of music you love but rarely listen to instead. And if you’re a morning TV watcher, for God’s sake don’t start your day with SKY or BBC news on loop.
Go somewhere you would never normally go
If you want to stay in-touch with reality and keep learning about yourself and other people, then you have to keep growing. Part of this can experimenting with your social circles or mixing in environments that jog the way you think and behave. Take a different route home, walk across a different floor at work, don’t use the airport lounge, change your pub or have lunch with someone new. We all like what we know and know what we like, but don’t turn preferences into prisons.
Learn to forgive
Starting with yourself. There are leaders walking around that are haunted by actions or thoughts that are decades old. If you expect to lead from a healthy, positive place then it goes without saying (so I’ll say it) that you have to actively heal old wounds and stop them passively controlling your current behaviours. Learning to forgive yourself, even when those you around you can’t, is the only way you will inspire others to not let their own mistakes hold them back.
Go electricity free
Okay, so I’m well-aware this could be where I lose a majority of readers, but hear me out. Have you ever sat in a room where all you can hear is the hum of a fridge? Where you can actually hear the electricity coursing through its little rubbery veins? You may not realise it, but you are surround by noises like this continuously. There are just so many now that the cacophony becomes part of the background noise you’re used to. Take some time, it could be 10mins before bed, a morning on your rare day off, and switch everything off. Everything. And I mean at the wall. Unplug those little bad boys you think keep your life moving, and just be present. Read a book, a magazine, or if you can – sit and just feel how clean the energy is. If you only do one thing from this list, make it this. It is a wondrous experience to behold.