If I were to say to you “put yourself first” what immediately comes to mind? You may cringe. You may pride yourself on always putting others ahead of your own wants and desires and sometimes even your own needs. Although admirable, this mindset can sometimes lead to disaster and burnout. And even a myriad of mental and physical health problems. Unfortunately, we are now immersed in a society that looks down upon people who actually do put their own needs above others. But is it really such a bad thing to put yourself first?
Furthermore, there is also a looming stigma of entrepreneurs who don’t practically destroy themselves to the brink of personal annihilation for their business. That they aren’t doing enough. Much like a writer who isn’t addicted to coffee and insanity. These romantic stereotypes may seem to be the normal on the surface. But are they truly productive? Sure your business requires a lot of care and undivided attention, but at what cost? Is it worth ruining your health over?
When You Put Yourself First, You Realize Your Own Value
Many entrepreneurs are especially guilty of forgetting about themselves and focusing only on the people in their employ. To a degree this is a sign of great leadership and empathy. When you’re in a position of authority and many people and their families depend on you, there are times when personal sacrifices of time, money, and even simple things are necessary. No one wants to be “that guy” that rolls around in a brand new luxury car while their staff is scraping together change to buy ramen noodles. However, a line does need to be drawn. You have to take care of yourself too. And by taking care of yourself, you reinforce the realization of your own value.
Certainly you’ve heard of people that get into relationships or marriages where they just give and give and give. They give so much so often that they become used up. They get to a point where they have nothing left to give and are now just a shell of their former self. The same can be said about business. Obviously, every leader wants their employees to flourish in life. Also, as a leader you most likely take on the silent responsibility of making sure your employees are healthy, have the resources they need, and are happy in their careers. This builds an amazing company culture.
But a great leader must also know that if they don’t take care of themselves, then everything will fail.
When You Put Yourself First, Your Staff Will See Your Value
Not saying that your staff doesn’t already see your value, but if they see you not taking care of yourself, then this can have a negative effect on their perception of you. For instance, if you show up to the office looking tired, haggard, and unkept your staff will pick up on this and base a perception of value around how you value yourself. If you’re stressed, grumpy, and short tempered, you set the mood for the entire day for a lot of people, whether you want to or not.
However, on the converse, imagine you arrive at the office feeling fresh, well-rested and in a good mood. You’ve taken the time to have a healthy breakfast and hit the gym for 20 minutes. You’re up to date on some of the latest Hollywood blockbusters or good books. You can have a light conversation about something other than just work. Your staff will see that you’re taking care of yourself. That you’re staying well rounded and well balanced. This perception will have a major impact on the motivation and mood of the office. Keep in mind too, your staff looks to you for leadership in more ways than just for business. They, in most cases. See you as a life mentor. A byproduct of being a great leader.
But there again we are talking about others. What about the reality of truly taking care of yourself? Ah yes, there’s the catch. By taking care of yourself, by putting yourself first, you are taking care of others! And you’re ensuring the longevity of your business.
The Work-Life Balance Is The Supreme Guilt Factor
Yes, we’ve all felt it. Sitting down to that Netflix movie ready to let it all melt away for a couple of hours when that guilty feeling creeps up. The conversations in your head that convince you that “I should be doing… [fill in the blank]” Or how about when that client asks for a meeting at the exact hour you have set aside for the gym?
The point is: If you do not take care of yourself first then you are no good to anyone around you. Plain and simple. If you get burned out, how can your business survive? If you’re tired, high on caffeine and cheeseburgers, how effective will your decision making be? Ask yourself: Am I taking care of my mental and physical health? Am I taking time to relax and unwind? How are my family relationships?
These are important questions. Yes, as an entrepreneur or business leader, there will be sacrifices to make. That is to be expected and accepted. But no business is worth risking your life over. No amount of success should come at the cost of self destruction.
Be Consistent And Take Care Of Yourself
Put yourself first. Take care of you. Not just on every other Wednesday. Make a real, consistent effort to keep yourself in the best mental and physical shape possible. Nurture your relationships. Spend time with a hobby. Have fun now and again. Eat right. Meditate. Work personal time into your calendar and keep it sacred. The world will not fall down.
And if you’re overwhelmed with tasks, it’s perfectly fine to get some help. Surround yourself with the right people. Positive. Like minded people. And for those other, everyday tasks that take up too much time, explore the option of a virtual assistant. You’ll sleep better once you do.