What gift will you give to yourself this year?
One of the things that all great leaders do frequently, visibly, and vocally, is recognise and celebrate the contributions and successes of others.
We know how important it is, the impact it can have, and quite rightly we make it a conscious priority until eventually it simply becomes a part of how we are, how we think, and how we behave.
And that feels right. As leaders we give credit for the wins and take the blame for the losses. That’s what leadership is… but there can be a hidden price.
In my CEO group sessions, I’ve sometimes asked participants to share something they’ve done or achieved in the last week, of which they’re really proud, and asked them to brag about it. And you’d be amazed at how hard they can find it to do – how uncomfortable, even distasteful, it seems to feel.
There’s often a resistance to even acknowledging to themselves how well they’ve done, how good they are at what they do. It’s as if there’s a critical inner voice telling them that if they stop to appreciate any of this stuff, even just for a moment, they will take their foot off the gas, slip into arrogance and complacency, spiral into narcissism. Or worse, be seen to do that by others.
Leadership can be a lonely place, and just about every leader I’ve ever met, particularly in the third sector has, at some point, talked to me about anxiety and fear. Some have called it imposter syndrome, others the weight of legacy, others simply questioning whether they’re good enough.
None of us sees this in our colleagues and peers – it’s invisible from the outside, but to shamelessly steal from Chris Rea’s festive favourite, “I take a look at the driver next to me; he’s just the same…”
And unsurprisingly, the people who feel this anxiety most often and most acutely, are usually the same people who find it hardest to recognise and share their own personal successes, even to themselves.
We know, we absolutely know, how important it is for people to receive credit and recognition for the work they’ve done, the successes they’ve achieved. And yet, even with that knowledge, we rarely give that gift to ourselves.
My thoughts and gratitude go out to everyone who will be working over the Christmas period – I know someone has to do it, and I’m incredibly thankful that you will. For you, this gift may have to be given in January.
But for those who aren’t working, who are able to step back, spend a little time with family or friends, hopefully at leisure, accept this gift from me: you are great at what you do, and you will lose nothing from taking a deliberate time out, looking back at this year, picking out and properly reflecting on all those moments that showed you at your very best.
Appreciate yourself. What you’ve achieved. How you’ve grown. How far you’ve come.
Give yourself that gift this Christmas. And hopefully I’ll see you next year.