It's the season of giving, and like every other leader, you're likely thinking about what you want to give your employees, be it gifts, promotions, salary increases, or feedback. But good leaders also focus on giving to themselves. Dedicate some time and resources to giving to yourself in the form of reflection and self-growth. Here are four ways you can spend some time on yourself this holiday season (without spending any money).
1. Give yourself permission to fail.
Although it may not be fun to fail, there are certainly benefits. It provides you with the ability to learn, iterate, and explore new and creative solutions for a given problem. But in order to fail effectively, you need to appreciate and invite failure as an outcome that is as acceptable as success. According to Ralph Heath, managing partner of Synergy Leadership Group and author ofCelebrating Failure: The Power of Taking Risks, Making Mistakes, and Thinking Big, failure and defeat are our best teachers, but many people, especially those in conservative corporate cultures, avoid going there. To embrace failure in an extreme fashion, take a healthy risk where failure is more likely than success. If failure is the outcome, reflect on what you learned, and try again with your new information.
2. Customize an exercise routine for yourself.
Exercise is good for everyone, but especially important for leaders. Research has found that physical activity is the best way to improve cognitive function. Exercise enables you to make better decisions, establish better focus, and effectively solve problems. While you might not have time for hours-long workouts each day, consider instituting quick, simple routines throughout the day. According to a certified personal trainer and nutritionist, this could be as easy as a simple five minute routine between meetings or at lunch time. One routine, for example, might include thirty seconds of jumping jacks, crunches, jogging in place, squats, pushups, and a plank.
3. Allow yourself time to disconnect.
Though it might seem like being "always on" is key to the success of your company and employees, this mindset might be doing you a disservice. Disconnecting gives your mind the ability to rest and rejuvenate, and it may also boost innovation. According to research by a Washington University in St. Louis neurologist, when we daydream or zone out, an important region of the brain--the default network--becomes active. This portion of the brain is most responsible for creative insights and breakthroughs. Allot a few minutes each day to completely disconnect, whether it's before bed or in little moments throughout the day. In doing so, you will be able to connect more meaningfully when you are "on."
4. Inspire yourself with continual learning.
In our continually changing world, one of the most important skills for a leader to have is the ability to adjust his or her thinking. According to The Harvard Business Review, "reinvention and relevance" in today's business world rely on our ability to adjust the way we think, learn, and do. Further, in a recent study on Global Human Capital Trends, 85% of respondents cited learning as being either important or very important. Whether it's as deliberate as taking a class or more manual like intentionally reading about current events or topics in your field that interest you, give yourself the mindspace and ability to expand your knowledge.
This holiday season, don't forget to give yourself something too. It may seem selfish, but in focusing on bettering yourself as a leader, you directly and positively impact your employees and your organization--in fact, it may be the best gift you could give them, too.