I recently heard a great talk by one of Australia’s leading psychologists, Dr Michael Carr Gregg. http://michaelcarrgregg.com/
What he spoke about provided some great reminders and challenges about how I care for myself and ultimately for others. Let’s face it, if I don’t really care for myself, how can I be in my very best of shape to care for others. My recent time at Cambridge University reinforced this and my leadership coaching certainly reinforced this point. My coach summed it all up by saying “care for yourself Doug! You care for others but who cares for you?”
It sounds almost selfish to say this… “I must care for myself”. “Put yourself first!” As a Christian, I believe so strongly in the concept of servant leadership and putting others first, but really, am I going to be my very best for others if I am not prioritising my time and resources to be and become the very best person that I can be? I am no good to others if I am a stressed out, good for nothing mess.
So with this thought, here are some thoughts by Dr Carr Gregg (mixed with my own reflections). I’m thankful for his wisdom and for the opportunity to learn from this inspiring man.
TEACHERS AND PRINCIPALS DO NOT HAVE IT EASY
When it come to Australians, teachers are ranked as having the highest occupational stress. Compounding this, is research that shows that it’s even worse for Principals. I can’t believe that my job is more stressful than any other job in Australia, but then when I think about my day to day, I am not surprised. Did you know that Australian Principals are bullied my than any other job in this country? According to statistics, 20% of my staff team will suffer from a DSM mental health diagnosis and this is consistent across most sectors of the Australian workforce.
We have to get our act together as Australian leaders to understand stress in the workplace and to respond as we care for our staff and communities. Three current reports are worth reading;
TOP 10 TIPS FOR LEADERS
So listen to the advice you would give to others …care for yourself.
Here's some thoughts…
1. Work at your metacognition - your self talk - “if you can’t change something, change the way you think about it.”
2. Don’t personalise the problem....you are hearing the pain and anxiety of others. Don't own their issues and don’t take the problem home.
3. Practice gratitude, reflect at the end of each day and be thankful
4. Prioritise relationships - have a rich repertoire of friends and be a good friend to others
5. Sleep well - don’t be sleep deprived. Check out the Professor Russell Foster TED TALK
6. Exercise - take 10000 steps a day, get into aerobic exercise. For me this means getting up at 4:55am four days a week – but it’s worth it!
7. Practice mindfulness, optimism and kindness. Check out this book “Why kindness is good for you” by David Hamilton.
8. Watch your diet - what we eat directly impacts our mood,
- Check out the Deacon University Food Mood Centre website
- no fast foods as this exacerbates anxiety and depression
- enjoy a Mediterranean diet
- eat eggs (colene helps memory), Greek yoghurt (tyrocene), blue berries, glucose at breakfast (carbs, toast, fruit), avocado, walnuts and certainly avoid alcohol
9. Plan for your future, set goals. Have something to work towards
10. Dr Carr Gregg did not say this, but for my Top 10 I would add, humble yourself before God. In other words, don’t think you can do this by yourself. Search your heart, search your soul and draw strength on God. He wants to do the leadership and life journey standing by your side, leading the way, He has your back and He carries you when it's all too much.
One of my guiding Bible verses as a leader and for my life on general is Luke 10:27
"'You must love the LORD your God with
- all your heart (my emotions, my love, my devotion)
- all your soul (my spirit, my inner most passion and being)
- all your strength (my energy, my body and my fitness),
- and all your mind (my thinking and my intellect).
' And, 'Love your neighbour as yourself.' So in other words, put God first, look after yourself second so that you can be your very best to equally love people and in doing so point them to God.
Isn't this ultimately what leadership is all about.