Just a few days ago, I had a pain in my lower back, and decided to pay a visit to the massage therapist. I came into her work space, and eventually settled in for a massage that was both therapeutic and transformational. Not only did my back pain significantly subside, but I came out of that room with a freshly empowered perspective on a few notions that are so important.
As I was laying on the massage therapists’ table, for some reason my thoughts wandered to the idea of self-care. I realized how long it had been since I had taken some time for myself. I couldn’t recall the last time I had taken “me-time” in terms of rest, replenishment, and relaxation. It felt good. It also felt like I had been missing something that is essential.
Years ago, had this conversation played itself out in my head, I would have jumped all over myself with the thinking that my “job” as a coach is to care for others, and so I don’t need to care for myself. The tape in my head at the time would have screamed that serving others means sacrifice!
Well guess what? I am so happy to share that I have spent some time and effort to re-program those self-abusive parts of my brain, and so I was able to carry on the intelligent dialogue within, and think about self-care and why it is so particularly important for coaches.
See, the truth is that we all have an opportunity to constantly feed and nourish ourselves; to take time for ourselves. In The Teaching of the Buddhist Master, we read that, “Your breathing is your greatest friend. Return to it in all your troubles and you will find comfort and guidance.”
We need to take time to breathe. To reflect. To self-nurture. This is about even devoting a tithe, or 10% of y=our waking hours to self-care, self-nourishment, paying attention to ourselves and our own needs.
If there is any truth that coaches especially need to get a handle on, it is learning self-care. Coaches tend to be “high-people-care”, “high-octane”, “high-performance” people in, “heavy-people-care”, “high-stress”, “responsibility-heavy” environments. So, if we do not learn to self-care, we set ourselves up for disaster! I love the quote from Abraham Lincoln, where he said this: “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my axe.” This is learning to work smarter, and not always harder.
Some of us are burned out, stressed out, frazzled out, dried out and have dropped out, simply because we have not learned to work smart with respect to self-care. Constantly feed and nourish yourself:
- Physically – healthy diet, appropriate amount of sleep, and regular exercise goes a long way…
- Mentally – nurture a positive attitude and a healthy frame of mind…
- Emotionally – Replenish yourself emotionally…
- Spiritually – Find your spirituality and take the time to honor healthy values…
- Professionally – Proactively assess how you can add to a healthy workplace…
- Relationally – Relational health leads to overall health…
- Financially – Take time to review your finances and work to de-stress in this area…
Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing except self-care. Captain J.A. Hadfield said: “This art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of energy in our great women and men.”
As we move into 2015, this experience on the massage table has reminded me of 5 important truths that I am resolving to keep close to my heart. I sincerely hope you will do the same.
The first is that I matter. Sometimes as a coach, I can forget that I matter. My client matters. Her business matters. His needs matter. But not me.
That is a lie. I matter. You matter. We all matter, and we tend to care for what matters.
The second is that my self-care matters. See, a piercing discovery is that self-care is always a choice we either make, or do not make, and this can be a reflection of our sense of self-worth. Those who care for themselves are expressing self-inherent value in that transaction.
The third is that empowering self-care takes an investment of time and resources. Time and resources are precious, and so it makes sense to invest them into what matters most. If I matter, and my self-care matters, then it makes sense to invest my precious time and energy into myself, for my own self-care, self-nurture, and self-preservation. And like most of our allocations of time and money, investing in our self-care must be planned, structured, and accountable. Who will be your accountability partner in 2015 with respect to self-care?
The fourth is that effective self-care takes self-awareness. I have come to be aware that my self-
care happens best early in the morning when it’s quiet. Meditation, quiet reflection, journaling, and prayer are vital pieces of the self-care puzzle for me. However, we all have different needs when it comes to self-care, and there are different ways we all experience self-care. Self-awareness informs us as we seek self-discovery around the timeframes and types of self-care that will work best for us, and it guides us to make appropriate self-care decisions. Self-care and self-awareness are one and the same.
I am privileged to work in my coaching practice with several high-level executives and business owners who are not caring for themselves (until I get them on track!). When we are not kind to ourselves, it shows in how we treat and care for our people. The business owner or executive who is not kind to themselves or caring for themselves is thus not empowered, and so they do not empower others. They are worn out, and so they take energy from others, rather than offering it. They are feeling frustrated and anxious, and so they project that frustration and anxiety onto their teams. This leads to high turnover, unhappy team members, and disengaged employees. The transformational “Aha Moment” for them is realizing that by not caring for themselves, they are hurting their business. When I care for myself, I build my business.
I have coached hundreds of coaches who do the same. They are busy, and so they don’t take time to fuel their own tank and fill their own cup, and so they are out of gas. When they meet with their clients, they are out of the good stuff (because they haven’t taken the time to get it), and thus give their clients the leftovers. Leftovers served to your clients will not grow your business, even if served with a smile. Truthfully, it has been in the quiet moments of self-care and replenishment that I have gotten the ideas and inspiration which has elevated my coaching practice into six figures, and many people reached.
So, please remember to take time for self-care. Self-care will build your heart and mind, and it will grow your business. In 2015 and beyond, you deserve it!