Why Self-Care is the Most Underrated Leadership Skill

I’ll be honest. Self-care always ends up at the bottom of my to-do list. In fact, self-care has never been in my vocabulary. For most of my life, I’ve been a hard-charging, type A, driven, ambitious person. But as I recently turned thirty, I began to realize that my body can’t hold up to my pace. Unfortunately, many high-achieving leaders confess that self-care is difficult.

In terms of my professional accomplishments, I am on top of things, but when it comes to exercise and eating well, I find myself compromising time after time. It’s easy to make excuses and eat lots of junk food and I don’t’ sleep so well.

One of my friends once said, “No one ever told you, but taking care of yourself is part of your job. It’s not optional.”

This hit me like a ton of bricks. The truth is if I want to live out God’s calling, I need to be at my best where I have the mental, emotional and physical energy to do my best. If I continually ignore self-care, eventually I’ll perform at a subpar level. Of course, I know it’s good to take care of myself. But I often say I’m too busy working and doing.

If you’re like me, here’s a self-care checklist to remind yourself to engage in self-care. Here’s a great excerpt from Outsmart Your Brain.

Environment

  • Is your office organized so you can find things easily?
  • Are your work spaces pile-free?
  • Does your home provide you comfort and a peaceful place where you can think?
  • Are your appliances at home in working order?
  • Do you have back-up systems in case of electric failure, including for your computers, at home and at work?
  • Do you maintain your car regularly and is everything working properly?
  • Do you keep enough home and office supplies so you don’t run out?
  • Do you find the colors and wall decor in your home and office pleasing?
  • Is the temperature in your home and office comfortable?

Physical Health

  • Do you sleep 6-8 hours every day?
  • Is your bed comfortable?
  • Does your back feel fine after sitting in your chair at work?
  • Do you eat fresh, healthful food almost every day?
  • Do you exercise at least three times a week?
  • Is your cholesterol count within the normal range?
  • Do you drink at least five glasses of filtered water each day?
  • Do you drink two or less caffeinated drinks (coffee, tea, sodas) per day?
  • Do you keep your sugar-intake to a minimum?
  • Do you get a complete medical physical annually?

Mental Health

  • Do you wake up looking forward to your day?
  • Do you take the time to acknowledge what you are grateful for each night?
  • Do you take at least two vacations a year that refresh and energize you?
  • Do you have someone in your life that hugs you regularly?
  • Do you arrive at least five minutes early for your appointments?
  • Do you take your time when driving?
  • Do you promise only what you can deliver?
  • Do you regularly explore new ways of perceiving the world?
  • Do you have a good belly laugh at least once a day?
  • Do you have at least two friends outside of your immediate family who you feel free to talk with about anything?

Money

  • Are you debt free or on your way to releasing yourself from debt?
  • Do you save at least 10% of your income?
  • Do you carry enough cash in your wallet to cover emergencies?
  • Do you feel you are compensated adequately for your work?
  • Can you recover from a financial disappointment quickly?
  • Do you have enough savings to cover a home, car, or health emergency?
  • Do you carry enough insurance for your home, car and health?
  • Do you invest in your own career development so you can earn more in the future?
  • Do you have a special knowledge or skill that gives you job security?
  • Do you have a reputable and knowledgeable financial advisor?

Relationships

  • Do you have people in your life who encourage your dreams?
  • Do you have friends to talk to when you need to relieve your stress?
  • Have you said you are sorry to those who feel you have harmed in any way?
  • Have you forgiven family members, friends and colleagues for hurting you?
  • Have you resolved all of your conflicts so that you don’t avoid anyone?
  • Do you tell your friends and family how much you care about them on a regular basis?
  • Have you stopped trying to fix people?
  • Have you disconnected from people who repeatedly disappoint, frustrate, or disrespect you as much as you can?
  • Do you feel significant with everyone you come in contact with?
  • Do you have a way of recharging your faith in life when you need to?

I’d love have you share more ideas around how do you engage in self-care? Comment below!


  • SVT

    Great post, Paul! I recently attended in the Indiana Conference for Women and received a copy of Arianna Huffington’s newest book The Sleep Revolution and also had the wonderful opportunity to hear her speak about the concepts in this book and her previous book Thrive, both of which emphasize the importance of self-care for being our most productive and offering our best to our loved ones and our world.

  • Steve Morgan

    Great post Paul. Yes, unfortunately this does land at the bottom of our list of to-do’s. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Awesome post! Found myself saying “yes” or “no” reading through the lists, definitely gave me some new things to improve!

  • Lynn Hare

    Excellent, practical post! I get massages, go for regular walks, and stay connected to the Word of God.

  • Most leaders fail to take care of themselves. This lifestyle will take a leader out of the game. I recommend “Total Leadership”