|For many of us, September can look like January. It’s an “inflection” month.|
During the previous month, the activity considerably slowed down as the offices emptied and the number of persons showing “offline” on our communication dashboard increased.
With the work intensity diminishing, so did our stress level. Whether we were on holiday or not, we got some sort of release, giving us time and space to relax and recharge.
And then, with the end of holidays and people coming back, we noticed the pace, that had almost stopped, was suddenly accelerating. Meetings multiply, old projects are back on track, new ones are kicked off and deadlines are getting closer.
We hear and feel: “we are back in business”.
Pressure is back too and it is easy to follow old patterns. To start again answering our emails as we are getting to bed or to accept working on Sunday because we must finish an important presentation.
It has only been a few weeks after this blessed period of calm and yet we crave it again. As our stockpile of energy depletes, we ask ourselves frantically: “when are the next holidays?”
September is an “inflection” month, and if there is only one change we could make, it should be related to our self-care. To show more compassion, to be kinder with ourselves.
We often neglect ourselves as we fear that if we don’t perform at 110% we will be seen as incompetent or worse we could be rejected.
To help us overcome this mental challenge, we can recognize that in every good thriller book, the pacing varies. There are slower phases to either recover from an intense episode or to build up to the next one.
We are no different.
We have to be more self-compassionate and accept it is essential to adjust our rhythm to the different phases of our life. We should act before a doctor has to stop us, or that our partner expresses concerns for our well-being. We should be on top of it and give ourselves permission.
Permission to slow down, to recover, to take some time off.
As the journalist Norman Cousins wisely wrote:
|We have the power!|
|Inspiration Of The Month|
If a random audience is asked to name a famous entrepreneur, we would get Musk, Jobs, Ford, or even Edison.
Probably only a few would mention Anita Roddick.
She was the founder of the Body Shop franchise, selling skincare products. In 30 years, she scaled her business from a single shop – located between two funeral parlors – to nearly 2,000. She sold it in 2006, for more than 650 million British pounds to L’Oréal.
She was also awarded the title of “Dame Commander” by Queen Elizabeth II for service to retailing, but more interestingly to the environment and charity.
Roddick did not only use her incredible leadership and entrepreneurial skills to expand her business, but she also leveraged them to support caritative projects, such as the development of orphanages and humans rights campaigns.
To me, she illustrates the adage: “You cannot pour from an empty cup“. We have to take care of ourselves first to be able then to take care of others.
One of the first things rescuers learn is to ensure that the area they enter is safe (or they have to make it safe) before they intervene on the victim. If the unconscious person has been electrocuted, they have to turn off the power or at least make sure they do not risk being injured too. Why? Because if this happens, instead of one person to rescue, there are two.
Once Roddick had her cup full, she was able to give plenty. She was a strong advocate of environmental issues, including stopping the dumping of toxic waste in the North Sea.
Self-care is not selfish – it is necessary.
|Challenge Of The Month|
We might ask is there really nothing we can do while we are filling up our cup? Are we just supposed to focus on ourselves and disregard any external request for help?
If self-care is not selfish, it is not self-indulgence either. Like many things in Life, it requires us to play a balancing act.
And we don’t necessarily need to do to be of service. Sometimes what we decide not to do can have even more value.
When she created Body Shop, Anita Roddick said she “made a list of all we didn’t want to be“. Thus, she refused to sell products that were tested on animals. She also refused to sell single-use containers.
As Body Shop grew, she added more “do not do” rules. For instance, with the company starting to source raw materials internationally, she refused to pressure small producers to maximize profits and instead ensure they were compensated fairly. She established this practice years before it gained public awareness.
Overall, these decisions to “not do” elevated her business and had a massive impact.
So the challenge for this month is to decide “not to do” something to improve our self-care.
It could be to not eat this second cookie for dessert (even if it looks really yummy – I know, it’s hard).
It could be to stop looking at our emails before going to bed (or first things in the morning).
It could be to stop using words like “always” or “never” (remember our last “Action” newsletter?)
Self-care is not selfish – it should be a daily activity (not only a “holiday” one).
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Acts of care, campaigning like an intrepid CEO and British Dame
For many of us, September can look like January. It’s an "inflection" month.