Every marathoner knows miles 18 – 21 are the hardest.
It’s a common understanding among marathon runners they might ‘hit a wall’.
The term hitting the wall refers to depleting your stored glycogen and the feelings of fatigue and negativity. A sense you can’t possibly go on, I remember this feeling well from my long training runs when I ran my first marathon.
I always said running my marathon was more MENTAL than physical.
But this time in our history, well it feels like we are all hitting the wall at this point in the year.
While preparing for an upcoming keynote I have been interviewing CEOs from Mental Health facilities around the US. The conversations have had many common themes … and one, in particular, stands out, the need to BE PRESENT.
One CEO told me “we have the grief and impact of a war” – wow. That stopped me in my tracks.
The challenges for every leader right now continue to grow and we have to all remember that people’s ability to work when they know someone they love is not well, or worse, they have lost someone they love during this time, is really tough.
Let’s add the holiday season makes it harder.
Addiction, suicide, and burn out are at an all-time high.
Every conversation I have with clients, colleagues, and girlfriends has their version of “I am so tired”.
Another frustration is that our coping mechanisms and concept of self-care have been challenged because we can’t socialize or rely on family to refuel, we have had to rethink and redesign our self-care strategies.
We can’t reenergize others (and cheer for them to run the race) if our fuel tank (or glycogen stores) are depleted.
So what can we do?
We have to stop trying to control our futures and start being in our present.
As leaders, here are a few suggestions:
Give Yourself Grace – yep, give yourself a break. Relax and realize you may not get it all done and that’s OK.
Take a break – if you haven’t scheduled time off or downtime, and you have the ability to do that, now is a good time to do that (and yes, I realize you can’t go anywhere). But maybe your staycation is a digital detox?
Refocus on strategic priorities – now might be the time to set free some of the deadlines and deliverables and focus more on operations.
Consider self-care strategies and how they might look different i.e. reading, yoga at home, exercise outdoors, a hot bath, cutting yourself some slack.
Get offline – step away from email, social media, Zoom, and all the digital drains on your attention.
- Check in on your people – add a special 1:1 check in with them to see how they are doing.
Prioritize your mental health – talk to your therapist, walk with a friend, journal, and make that a priority.
Talk to colleagues in your industry and listen to their best-practice ideas.
You are not alone.
This holiday season, understand EVERYONE has hit a wall: your clients, customers, colleagues, patients, members, partners, kids, parents, godparents, neighbors, yes I mean everyone.
So let’s please give each other grace and remember we are all doing all we can. You are not alone.