By enriching the lives of others and helping them to become better leaders, we enhance their abilities to build better organizations that will help create a more just and caring world. This is the basis of the “Servant Leadership” model that guides what I do on a daily basis and serves as the philosophy from which I work with others. One of the things I have learned over the years is that in our desire to serve and help others we cannot lose sight of caring for ourselves. Simply put, you cannot care for others if you do not care for yourself Too often it becomes easy to compromise self care, to burn the candle at both ends, and justify our actions in the name of doing the greater good. In truth however, we are only kidding ourselves. So how do we find the balance?
“Mind, Body, Spirit!” Have you heard this term before? I hope so, because it dates back to ancient cultures existing as early as 5000 BC. But what does it mean? Simply put, Mind, Body, Spirit means that our well-being comes not just from our physical health, but from our mental and spiritual health as well. In other words, to be healthy, we must pay attention to all three aspects of our nature, as they combine to determine who we are.
Balancing our lives begins with one simple word, “Listen“. Kristi Ling, author of Operation Happiness: The 3-Step Plan to Creating a Life of Lasting Joy, Abundent Energy and Radical Bliss writes, “Caring for your body, mind, and spirit is your greatest and grandest responsibility. It’s about listening to the needs of your soul and then honoring them.” I believe it’s not only listening to your spiritual needs, but remembering the interdependent nature of Body, Mind and Spirit. It’s about listening to what your spirit is whispering, what you mind is saying, and what your body is telling you. By listening and responding to the needs of any one aspect of our nature, we can provide nourishment for all. Likewise ignoring any single voice will serve to compromise the functioning of the other two.
When we listen to our mind, our body and our spirit, we acknowledge the value of our own voice, but it takes more than listening to find the balance. It takes action, and that is our first step to self-care. Our daily lives can be stressful. By dedicating a small part of the day to rejuvenation, we set the stage for renewal of our own body, mind and spirit. This leads to a balancing of our own life and an enhanced ability to serve and help others. So how is this accomplished? It becomes a case of what works best for you, but to get you started, here’s a gathering of ideas that serve this purpose:
- Begin each day with a sense of gratitude simply for the opportunity of having waken.
- Create a morning ritual. It could be mediation or an early morning walk to witness the dawn. Be mindful of the sound, smells and sights of the new day.
- Get out a journal and set your intentions for the day.
- Eat a mindful breakfast. The food you provide your body will also feed your mind and spirit. Take time to taste and enjoy it.
- Interact with uplifting people. Laugh. Look for the best in situations. Adopt a positive attitude. Let your problems become your opportunities.
- Live your passions, do more of what you love.
- Get that journal out again. If time is of the essence, audio-record your thoughts. How is the day going? Who have you served today? Who needs a note of gratitude tomorrow? Who made you smile thus far today? Revisit these thoughts tonight.
- When given the opportunity visit your own Church, Synagogue, Mosque or your own place of worship for a service or period of reflection and conversation.
- Find time for family or friends. It can be an evening out or simply a quick phone call to let them know they are important to you.
- Be grateful. Take a moment to appreciate the things you have going for you. Likewise take a moment to express gratitude to someone who made your day better.
This list is by no means all-inclusive, nor is it intended to be taken as a comprehensive approach to renewal. Rather, start by incorporating a few ideas into your daily routine and see how they help to bring balance to your life. Remember, one of a servant leader’s strongest skills is their ability to listen and address the needs of those who follow them. Often their greatest challenge will be to use that same skill to bring balance to their own lives before they seek to help others. Embrace the Challenge!