August 22, 2019

As Yourself

Clinician Leadership | Leadership Development

Reading Time: 3 minutes

In the leadership world where mindsets such as “relational leadership,” “leading from behind,” and “trust-based leadership” are being coached into your organization, all eyes are on you – the leader. Your team or organization will follow you to the ends of the earth because you have upgraded to a new and healthier leadership style: one that includes them.

Kudos to you!

Your new leadership mindset brings new relationships and new outcomes. It also brings a plethora of responsibilities that may have been untapped in the old mindset.

Yet, in all the excitement, there tends to be a key responsibility that gets left behind. It is the responsibility of self-care.

Ah yes, that new tag phrase you see popping up on social media sights everywhere! Self-care memes and articles are being posted or shared at a breakneck pace. But, is it really a new idea?  I would ask you to consider that what the social media gurus are tagging as “all the new rage” is actually as old as time.

Recently, as I was preparing for a presentation, I pulled a reference attributed to Jesus. He stated to his audience that the second greatest commandment was to, “Love your neighbor, as yourself”.

What I have observed as a coach, a counselor, and a parent is that we have become quite adept at the first part. Most of us work at loving our neighbor. We willingly lend a hand when someone has a need; or we consider a person’s backstory with grace and forgiveness when they behave in an unforgiveable manner.

Yet, in over thirty years, I’ve never heard a mentor, pastor, friend, or colleague speak about the second part of that commandment: “as yourself.”

This statement is powerful. It implies that we are to “love” ourselves first, before we can truly love someone else. The only conclusion I could come to for this phrase being passed over time and time again is that loving ourselves first is not an easily acceptable concept, perhaps because it is perceived as selfishness.

But the AS YOURSELF mandate stated in this verse (and at least 10 other times in the same writings), is the opposite of selfishness.

It is a responsibility.

To be the best leader, the best parent, the best human we can be – we must take the time to make sure our needs are met; and our emotional, spiritual, and physical buckets are full. Anything less, and we cannot be and give our best self.

For each of us, AS YOURSELF looks different. There is no universal prescription. AS YOURSELF requires a depth of self-awareness that many do not have (here the door opens for my shameless plug for Executive Leadership Coaching – which can assist in growing that self-awareness.)

As you take the time to get to really know yourself, you will uncover the AS YOURSELF that is right for you. It may be an exercise regimen, isolated reading time, play time with your children, a weekly golf date, hiking the highest mountain – each of us is different.  The point is, you have to know you before you can know what you need.

Love your neighbor, AS YOURSELF.

In a culture where we spend most of our waking hours as a human doing, we have forgotten that we are human beings. I have seen the result when AS YOURSELF becomes part of a leader’s core values; when they relearn what it means to “be” so that they can be the best when they “do”. The changes are dramatically positive, not just in their workplace but in their homes, with their friends and the families.

I challenge you to take the time to learn who you are and what your AS YOURSELF looks like. It will change your whole world.

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About the author

Connie Smith-Hein, MS, ACC

Connie Hein has accumulated 25 years working in behavioral health focusing on executive leadership and team building. She has deep experience in psychology and counseling.

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