Have you ever run out of gas? Back in my college days, I remember thinking that I had run out of gas and had to get help pushing the truck into a nearby parking lot. It was then that I remembered the old Ford truck I was driving had a reserve tank. Just flip the switch and you were in good shape. The trick was to remember to keep both tanks full! How awful would it have been to flip the switch to the reserve tank and the needle on the gauge stay stuck on empty? Talk about being overwhelmed, frustrated and angry! I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself running on empty many times throughout my life. Even when I would flip the switch to my reserve tank, I would often find that there was nothing there but fumes. I had completely run out of gas. My life is like my car, if I want it to go anywhere I have to take care of it and keep the tank full.
The hardest person to care for and lead is you. But, once you do the hard work of leading and caring for you, doing it for others will be natural. Ask yourself a few simple questions to help:
- When I need a break, how am I re-fueling to put the best ME forward? (Exercise, catch a nap)
- Do I have a mentor/coach that can guide me on this journey of self-care, self-leadership? (In-person mentoring or a silent mentor through the books you read)
- Do others see a difference in how I’m leading myself, giving me permission to lead them? (If not, keep making adjustments)
It wasn’t until later in life that I figured out how significant re-fueling is to my leadership and service to others. We must care enough to lead ourselves before we attempt to lead others and have expectations beyond our own personal leadership. One of the best ways to lead others is to take care of you first. Don’t rely on your reserves. It’s up to you to keep your tank full!