Leading From An Exhausted State

My momma told me there would be days like this. Days when there is a sense of overwhelming weight in the air. Days when political wars are taking their toll on us and we watch our children learning about complex issues by hearing two adults throw punches at each other. In the background, I am aware that real people that I really care about are suffering. These battles come in many forms, whether worries about health struggles, the trials of family, relationships and parenting, work challenges, or financial crisis. The reality is that leadership does not always get to pause because there are real life events sucking energy from the leader. In fact, it is often at difficult moments that strong leadership is most often required. It is a worthwhile question to consider, "how can a leader lead in an exhausted state?". It does not matter whether the exhaustion is physical, emotional, spiritual or psychological, there are times when you must lead and you doubt you can. I am fascinated by the Earnest Hemingway quote, "Life breaks us all, but in the end some are strong in the broken places.". Accepting the mantle of leadership requires choosing a lifestyle that gives you the greatest chance to be "strong in the broken places". By way of encouragement allow me to suggest some aspects of that lifestyle;

  1. Community: Work at the discipline of surrounding yourself with people that are a part of your leadership community and with whom you can foster a leadership culture. It is imperative that there are others leaders inside and outside your world that understand the challenges of leadership and understand your personal constitution.
  2. Pace: Structure your calendar in such a way that you never go a long period of time without renewal, recovery or rest. Guard the pace of your life, it will serve you well.
  3. Transparency: Authenticity is a key ingredient of effective leadership and absolutely impossible without transparency. It is impossible to experience community without transparency, and community is necessary to be transparent.
  4. Principles: In a state of haze and confusion it is imperative to return to fundamental principles that have guided you well in the past. While exhausted, do not be afraid to verbally state the guiding principles that have shaped your leadership development life. May this encourage those that desire to be strong in the broken places. Lead well!