Recently I've been thinking about emotional health. I believe that a leader's emotional health can be either their best friend or worst nightmare. With good EH a leader can handle stress, criticism, betrayal, pressure, etc. with a level of grace and strength that adds stability to the team. With poor EH a leader will meltdown and eventually cause harm to themselves, their families, their organization - or more likely, a combination of all those. In a quest to offer helpful suggestions for good EH here is my Emotional Health Top 10:
- Build emotional health in community. Find some close trusted friends who can be a "sounding board" and do life together. Let them be strength when you need it. Often times we don't see in ourselves what is actually there until someone else points it out.
- Build emotional health in context. What is the context of your leadership? Are you judging your success by the wrong scorecard? What is success for you? These are powerful questions that we need to constantly ask in order to build emotional health in the proper context. There's a saying that's traditionally been attributed to Albert Einstein that goes, "If you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." While the quote may or may not be a genuine Einstein quote it still holds water. Context matters for emotional health. Are you a fish in water or a tree climber?
- Build emotional health in celebration. Are you having fun in life? Everyone needs an outlet where they unplug from the machine. What do you do for fun? Find something that brings you joy and do it. Schedule it into your calendar. Don't feel guilty for taking care of yourself. What your ministry needs is a healthy you!
- Build emotional health in your calendar. Plan your life out as best you can. Even a bad team can win with the right game plan. When we build emotional health into our calendars we are happening to our lives instead of our lives happening to us. Schedule in the important things and make space to dream and enjoy the journey.
- Build emotional health in concert. What I mean by "in concert" is to work with your family to find a healthy rhythm as a leader. Ask your family to help you find balance. Give them permission to talk to you about how you are living. Many times we think that we are doing well when those closest to us see otherwise. Allow those in your inner circle to help you cover some blind spots that you may not realize that you have.
- Build emotional health in competence. You are really good at something. There's a high chance that the thing you are good at is why you were hired in the first place. Spend time honing your craft. Few things take a leader as high emotionally as sinking the game winning shot. The thing about game winning shots is they happen long before the game does. We trust the superstars to make big plays not because of their ego or superstar status, we trust them because their superstar competency lets us know they can get the job done. Work on your competence and reap the benefits of success.
- Build emotional health in conscience. The brain is a powerful thing. We've all been in a moment when we were paralyzed because of something our brains told us. Likewise, we've all been in a moment when our brains were our best asset. Learn to control your brain and build a foundation for emotional health. Refuse to speak negatively to yourself. Don't settle for old patterns of thought. Think differently and lead differently.
- Build emotional health in challenges. Every leader will face challenges along the way. The best leaders know how to properly process pressure. Don't fold under the challenge. Build a gameplan to handle the challenges you may face organizationally and personally. When you are well prepared for a challenge you can face it with great strength. On the other hand, when you aren't well prepared for a challenge it can cripple your momentum. Think of it as having a leadership spare tire. If you have a blowout on the road you'll be ready to keep trucking along.
- Build emotional health in compromise. Most leaders don't like compromise. They view it as settling for a lesser vision. To be fair in some cases it is settling, but in most cases compromise is healthy for the entire organization. Compromise values others' input to the team. Emotionally healthy leaders know when to pass the ball. John Maxwell teaches that great leaders know when to let the best idea win. If you can embrace healthy compromise you'll be a great team leader thats full of emotional health.
- Build emotional health in Christ. My last suggestion is to find your emotional health in Christ. Many times in my leadership journey I've lost emotional health because I was more wrapped up in leadership than I was in Christ. Great leaders find their sweet spot in Christ and learn to let their leadership flow from Him more than flow from them. Prayer is more than a cry for help it is a time to strengthen your soul. If you want the things you lead to last let the things you lead be empowered by Christ.
Whelp that just about does it for this installment of Leadership Gravity. There are more things that we can do to build great emotional health, but these are a few that have helped me along the way. I hope that you have been encouraged and empowered to try some of these out. I'd love to hear what you have to say about the list. What did you like? What didn't you like? What would you add to the list?