As a successful entrepreneur/executive, you undoubtedly possess the ability to respond to demanding situations in business as well as in other areas of your life. This skill however, comes with a unique challenge. With the varied, demand- ing roles the executive is called upon daily to fill, compounded with the focus required to meet quotas, the tremendous changes rapidly taking place in the economy and the minutiae of our lives, it is all too common for executives to lose sight of the big picture and unconsciously ignore the importance of honoring their responsibility to themselves. Over time, our energy becomes depleted and even the situations we believed we had complete control over, begin to suffer greatly. We become out of balance and often find ourselves on “our heels”- reacting to challenges, rather than consciously responding to them. As a consequence, other areas of responsibility get pushed to the side, neglected or denied. Inevitably, we end up neglecting critical aspects of responsibility in other parts of our lives.
The number of hours a business leader works varies with the individual as well as with the size of the company, the upper management in place and the complexity of the challenges the executive is faced with. Whatever the number, it is significant and even more so when one figures in corporate entertaining and other events that are part of the executive’s life. As a result, the distinction between professional and personal personas may become opaque. Clarity of responsibilities and consistency in action can become muddled as well.
Balancing personal and professional responsibilities is an art unto itself. With family, there are the key elements of love, security and if you have children, being a model of healthy behavior and unwavering accessibility and patience. On the business side, the key elements are taking ownership of your actions and deci- sions and being accountable to the firm and your employees, all while guiding others to be accountable to you–with patience and grace. A common thread between family and firm, is the importance of establishing authentic trust and dependability. These are all formidable tasks and challenges–for any being.
We may be able to master the intricacies of responsibility in our personal and professional lives, but the consequences of neglecting or ignoring the very core of our responsibility – responsibility to our self and our well being, can undermine it all. There is no need to examine these dark outcomes here – we all know too many individuals who have experienced loss of health or family by ignoring their well-being.
Here are 4 key areas of responsibility in caring for yourself:
Mentally – keeping yourself engaged in learning and increasing your practical knowledge of life. This includes learning from the past so you don’t repeat mistakes. Learning is a lifelong process. Recent studies in the field of neuroplasticity reveal that challenging your mind with new words, ideas and interacting with diverse individuals keeps your mind “young”.
Physically – doing an activity, something you can do on a daily basis and truly commit to. This discipline will give you a predictable element in your life and therefore a sense of control. It has been proven that a regular exercise pro- gram will increase your energy level, clear your mind for a more optimistic perspective of life and is a great tool to reduce stress.
Emotionally – developing your awareness of what you are feeling or experiencIng, accepting your feelings and responding in an authentic and mindful way. Learning how to live in the present and let go of your attachment to the future or the past provides you with a clearer grasp on the one thing you are in control of - the present moment. Our minds are constantly filled with incessant words, thoughts, ideas and emotions, which leave us very little time and space for inner quietude. Consider creating a practice, such as setting aside a quiet time to relax. This time and space will allow you the opportunity to gain an unclouded perspective of your life.
Spiritually – connecting with and appreciating the profound gift of being alive. Being spiritual means to be fully aware and vitally connected to all that exists; to not take things for granted; to remember that everything flows within an overall scheme. Consider taking time to recognize the precious quality of everyday things and be grateful for both the good and the bad in your life.
As a family law attorney and mediator, I have the privilege and responsibility of others inviting me into their personal lives while most in need of help. Under- standing responsibilities as they relate to boundaries, energy and time management has been a powerful experience for me.
We hear about “knowing when to say when”, but to work to understand how we become more accessible by creating healthy boundaries or necessary space is an amazing experience. I am now able to separate sense of obligation and commitment from the personal and professional “have-to’s”. Some of us cannot resist the need to help others or to give of ourselves to a point of losing ourselves – in our work, in our family or even in time...
As a deeply committed mother of two young children, combined with my dedication as a principal in my law firm, learning accessibility and emotional boundaries was invaluable as I gained more clarity on the concept of personal responsibility.
These tools prevent you from losing yourself and help you take control of your needs and space, ultimately making you more accessible to others.
Once again, I can appreciate the notion that to give is to receive. Now I give myself space, a break, room to take a meaningful position, and see the wondrous ability to serve others unfold. My willingness to be open to the needs of others, while protecting myself, my family and my practice is truly a gift.”
T.A. Principal of Law Firm, Entrepreneur
Questions for Self-Exploration
The content, structure and flow of this exercise are designed to guide you in:
examining your responsibilities
gaining clarity of what you are or are not accountable for
being mindful of how you respond to internal and external challenges
applying your increased awareness to create balance and consistency in all areas of responsibility