Tending the garden of your habits
Leadership Coach, Front of Room Leader and Systemic Change Guide

This is how I tend to my flow and serenity.

For the past few years, I have had pretty solid morning and evening routines which nourish my body, my mind, and my soul. What’s more, these routines help me stay emotionally balanced. I get up at 6 am, drink a cup of hot water while reading a few lines of something spiritual, meditate for half an hour in my Taiji Standing pose, shower, eat the same nourishing breakfast as the day before, and by 8.00, I am ready to start my working day with free writing for half an hour. I eat three healthy meals a day, and in the evening prepare myself for the next day. My evening routine includes doing my gratitude list, reading something for fun, and going to bed timely for 8 hours of sleep to wake up refreshed and in a creative mode the next morning. My routine is pretty solid (except when it isn’t), and I know exactly how consistently I stick to it, because I track my habits as part of my evening routine. Even without tracking, eventually I would know as my energy levels and mood spirals down when I neglect my habits.

Self-care IS energy.

Therefore, I monitor and manage the self-care habits which replenish my physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional energy.
A self-care routine is something to be done regularly. Like we’ve argued last week, it’s important that we don’t let our energy drop below 50%, because when it does, it is so very cumbersome to get it back up. It’s really like gaining and loosing weight. One is easy, the other one is, hard – the harder, the more weight we have gained.

Self-care is so easy when life is stable and we have time.
But we constantly experience change. What then?

As life’s circumstances shift, so do routines. Sometimes they get shaky or fall to the wayside altogether until we notice, sometimes to our frustration: „Oh, I haven’t exercised for 2 weeks!“ There are many reasons for why that happens:

  • We have deadlines to hit.

  • We have one of those weeks with an unending number of things to do.

  • We are travelling.

  • We are moving house.

The list is endless.

In exceptional situations, we intuitively do the wrong thing.

We let our routines drop to almost zero.
No daily exercise, no hitting the gym twice a week, no time for preparing a healthy meal, no time for chilling out for an hour before going to bed to get the 7-8 hours we need.

What’s really needed is an overhaul.

In times of change, we sometimes even need to completely reinvent our routines.
This is the case as we undergo lasting change, like:

  • Entering a new relationship,

  • Starting a new job which involves a longer commute, and most radically,

  • Having a baby.

What all of these situations have in common is that they make it harder for us to keep up the routines that have work for us in different circumstances.

Change is a time crunch.

And thus we often fall out of the routines which sustain us, and help us go through life with more ease. We might try to wing it and get through life without self-care altogether, or very often, start unhealthy ones which usually lead to gaining weight and sleeping less well, to name just two effects which then make us grumpy and less able to bounce back quickly in the event of setbacks.

When under pressure: Just hold!

No matter what our current life circumstances are, we need to find routines which help us nourish our bodies, our minds, our souls, and which help us remain emotionally balanced.
So the morning meditation has to melt down to 10 minutes. Or to a few deep breaths throughout the day – at the cue of an hourly alarm. What’s a habit so simple that you ALWAYS make time for it, even integrate it in your meetings? What matters is to hold a minimum structure. 5 push ups after getting out of bed. To stay resilient, we need to stay aware that self-care matters and creates an upward spiral of positivity and energy. That’s why we give ourselves that time for self-care!

Self-care = Productivity

Productivity is self-care’s business case. But self-care is so much more than that. Prioritising self-care allows us to be more empathetic and collaborative, to be creative, and to be balanced. Most importantly:

Self-care is part of a happy life.

Last Friday, Susie Astbury, Connor McDonough and I witnessed the energy shift in 40 people who inventorised and looked at their habits and relationships. They asked themselves:

Does this habit or relationship bring me energy – or drain it?

This was possible in a short time by visualising what wants to be born, what is in experimentation, what is rock solid and sustaining, and what needs to be reinvented, reinvigorated, or simply dropped. We visualised this with the Liberating Structures Ecocycle on which our participants mapped the habits that give and drain their energy. And you can download Anja Eber’s inspirational Ecocycle Canvas here.

How is this relevant for your team?

You can lead yourself and your team through a 90 minute experience. It is a way to lead by excample, and to show that you care both for your people’s productivity and their physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well-being. As a leader you understand that you cannot have productivity without well-being. And in these exceptional times of change and uncertainty,

it is your role as a leader to ensure that your people get from surviving to thriving.

Thanks to the LS user group in Berlin and our wonderful participants who let us experiment with bringing self-leadership and Liberating Structures together.

For leadership coaching and developement, get in touch

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