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Nurturing Leadership

2 min read

To be an effective leader, you must take care of yourself first.

Self-help is more than simply taking care of yourself through eating, sleeping and exercise. It’s a deeper concept that involves self-nurturing — going beyond the basics and reflecting on the true meaning of the word nurture — “to feed or nourish.” As leaders, how can we give the best of ourselves, if we are continually neglecting ourselves? Let’s take a closer look.

The answer is simple: We are unable to give to someone else if we are not giving to ourselves; thus, the old saying, “Love yourself first so you can love someone else.”

Self-nurturing must be approached holistically, and the focus must be physical, social and emotional to thrive as an individual and leader.

Physical Self-Nurturing Activities:

  • Focus on your physical health and well-being. Make sure you eat, sleep and exercise.
  • For a week, jot down what you eat and the time you eat. Note when you exercise, and how many hours of sound restless sleep you get. Naps can be a benefit, too.
  • Evaluate your results.

Mental and Emotional Self-Nurturing Activities:

  • Mental and emotional well-being drives our interactions with others. Take time to take care of your mind.
  • Typically, every good therapist has also seen a therapist to stay balanced and focused or to get back on track. Being in control of our minds (i.e., our thoughts) means being in control of our emotions. A therapist can help you:
    • Be aware of what or who triggers you.
      • Who makes you feel sad, mad, upset, happy, frustrated, overwhelmed? Emotions are appropriate in certain situations and being out of control of your emotions is never a good idea. This one is easier said than done. Sometimes life happens and is out of our control. Events such as the death of a family member, divorce or an illness can come from left field. Such occurrences are typically tied to big emotions and obsessive thinking because no one wants to feel pain. Often, we are still trying to work, be productive and control our lives.
  • Maximize time with the people who energize you. They help govern your positive thoughts as a leader.
  • Minimize your time with people who are negative or energy-depleting. Set boundaries with yourself on how you handle negative people.
  • Be mindful of your thoughts and engage in intentional interactions. Remember, you are in control of your reaction to people. If you mess up, view it as a learning lesson, and do better the next time. Mindfulness is the key here. Take accountability and move on from mistakes. Allow the same grace and mercy to your team.

In the end, nurturing yourself as a leader is truly the key to your success.

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Written by: Dr. Amy Cobb, LPC, LPC-S VP, Clinical Integration and Care Coordination
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