Do you feel like you’ve worked yourself to the brink??

Are you burnt out??

Is a vacation the answer??

Dr. Richard Boyatzis‘ best seller, Resonant Leadership explains the Sacrifice Syndrome and the important difference between “rest” and “renewal.”

Here is my personal story of not understanding the difference…

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Last year I was lucky enough to hit my goals for 2014 ahead of schedule. I was able to actually take some time to relax and plan for 2015. However, my idea of relaxation didn’t necessarily provide the needed “renewal” I was hoping for. I was indeed getting “rest.” Unfortunately, in order for me to truly get emotionally and spiritually rejuvinated for the upcoming challenges of 2015 I should have focused on activities that Boyatzis has proven to actually help you press the refresh button on your stress levels.

So what’s the difference?

Entering my relaxation “phase” I was so wound up thinking about the future and constantly trying to anticipate every little thing that could go right or wrong in 2015, etc. Secondly, I was truly wore out from a very intense year of  growing my business, moving into a new home and getting married. All fantastic, but stressful events. I thought to myself, “I just need to shut my mind off for a little bit.” So I turned to the one thing my mom always told me was bad for a growing mind, video games!

For a week or so I played more video games than I had in the last 20 years. Besides killing bad guys and saving the world from the awful fate they would have brought to my virtual citizens I wasn’t doing hardly anything. Although this was rest and relaxation compared to my usual routines I wasn’t getting what I was hoping for; the actual FEELING of rest and relaxation. I was still wore out!

The key is actively seeking activities that make us FEEL relaxed and renewed. The Sacrifice Syndrome actually breaks us down internally. The stress of our sacrifice as leaders according to Dr. Boyatzis causes negatively compounding emotional and neurological effects. For example…

  • Brain loses capability to learn.
  • We feel anxious, nervous, even depressed.
  • Perceive things people say or do as threatening and negative.
  • MORE stress is aroused.

The scary thing is that we usually have no idea this is happening. The stress of sacrifice will indeed eat away at you internally if you are not combating it intentionally through mindfulness, hope and compassion.

So what can you do to renew??

Here are examples Dr. Boyatzis offers…

  • Meditation
  • Prayer
  • Yoga
  • Tai Chi
  • Massage
  • Physical Exercise
  • Feeling hopeful about the future.
  • Being in a loving relationship.
  • Helping those less fortunate.
  • Having pets you can pet (the actual act of petting your dog, cat, etc. is what causes the feeling of renewal for you and your pet).
  • Being playful and laughing.
  • Walking in nature.

He advises that we should try to have as many renewal events throughout the day as possible. For example, instead of trying to have a 60 minute renewal session, try to have 6 minute renewal sessions ten times throughout the day. More occurrences will help to continuously renew your stress levels and maintain motivation and happiness.

My challenge to you my fellow leaders to actively renew yourselves throughout the day. Leadership and success is stressful! Don’t let it eat you alive. Take Dr. Boyatzis research to heart. Life is good and we need to FEEL that way too!

Enjoy the day!

— James Schleicher