founder of naked leader

Enough is enough…

Naked Leader Week – 74 – Monday 27 September 2004

Enough is enough…

 “I must get my life more in balance”

CEO speaking to me on a mobile phone as he laments missing his daughter’s tenth birthday party

 “Who cares for you? said Alice…you’re nothing but a pack of cards”

Alice in wonderland

 In our final moments on this earth, how many of us will look back on our lives and say, “I really wish I’d spent more time in the office.”

As we juggle meetings, phones and endless paper, it is easy to forget that we are human beings, not human doings. The great irony here is that we would actually be far more effective if we took some time for ourselves. Everyone knows it, many now write about it, few put it into practice – the way to take command of our lives, to achieve your best on a consistent basis, is to relax, and recharge.

Our energy is a finite resource. From the moment we rise in the morning, to the last minute of our day, the sappers are all around us. Our beautiful children, first thing in the morning on a school day, that wonderful journey to work, the first meeting of the day. They all add up to make us exhausted.

And yet, in still too many offices around the world, its’ just not on – to leave work early, to have a clear desk (it means we are not doing anything), or to build in time for ourselves.

Technology was meant to make our lives so much easier. It was supposed to simplify the way things are done, to eliminate paper and to free up time. It has done the exact opposite – in spades. As a direct result of gadgets and gismos our lives have accelerated in pace, pressure and complexity. The deadlines shorten, the paper mounts, and as we are so easy to reach, there are few escapes.

A recent survey suggests the average Western business father spends fifteen minutes every day with their children. Fifteen minutes – we spend longer writing e-mails.

Although views on this are changing, it may be too slow for the health and quality of your life.

Stress is one of the biggest issues facing all of us. From a leadership point of view, it is disturbing; from a personal point of view it is potentially fatal.

Just a few years ago stress was the responsibility of the individual, and it was up to them to prevent it, handle it and see through it. Recent industrial tribunal decisions have changed that. The onus is now on the organisation to ensure their environment, their culture; dos not induce stress on their employees. This is a dramatic change and one that can leave a company legally liable, quite apart from having a poor reputation and missed opportunities to grow. Two hundred and eighty thousand working days are lost to stress in the UK, every single day.

This change in approach is small compensation for sufferers, in particular the vast majority who do not realise they have a problem.

Stress has an antibody, it is called relaxation. The most powerful, proven and positive way to not only reduce stress, but to recharge your energy, is to take some time out for yourself.

Relaxation has many advantages:

  • Improved health, levels of energy and self-confidence.
  • The great irony of its approach is that when people do this on a regular basis they are more effective in all aspects of their lives, including at work!
  • It is also totally private to you and your family if you wish to share it with them.
  • It takes very little time
  • It is free
  • It is totally natural – no matter what the rush-rush life around us may suggest!

Many forward thinking companies are now encouraging people to take time out to relax, during the working day, and this number will increase. However they are very much a minority.

The most powerful, immediate and effective method of relaxation is to do this:

Allocate 20 minutes every day (just 2/3 of an episode of a soap opera)

Find a peaceful place, sit quietly, and upright

Pay attention to your breath – only to your breath

Each time you notice a thought, allow your attention to return to the breath


Try this for 21 days, and you will feel very different. Over time you will condition yourself to be able to relax more easily, perhaps in your office, or on the train.

In a remarkably short period, you will find yourself with more energy throughout the whole day – enabling you to spend so called “premium time” with your family, and not just at work.

When we relax we do not enter a new world; we merely access a world that is already present, but that has been long buried.  Some call it meditation; it goes by many names.

Above all else, remember it is OK to spend time with yourself, you are allowed to be at ease. It is perfectly natural – and health giving.

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