Are you a goal-oriented leader who always wants to see things through to completion? Yes? I’m with you. But here’s the thing:
Leading with ease means that you have the courage to tap out at the right time in order to ensure success in the long run.
It’s finally getting to be sauna season again here in Colorado, and yesterday afternoon I fired ours up.
My goal was 30 minutes since I haven’t used it in a while.
I tapped out at 25. That was… hard.
I’m one of those uber-goal-oriented folks.
If I say “I’m going to do X!” then you can rest assured I’m going to do it.
- I’m going to hike to the summit.
- I’m going to see all the sights.
- I’m going to read the book by some arbitrary date.
I’m going to do what I said I’ll do. It’s what I’m known for with my clients and colleagues.
It also can be my downfall.
Just ask my husband about the time I made him keep hiking when he wasn’t feeling well because “There is a lake I want to see!” only to realize the lake was on a different hike and to later learn he was hiking with bronchitis. I was so blinded by my goal orientation I lost sight of reality and risked his health.
When I got in the sauna yesterday I said to myself “30 minutes!”
But I’m getting somewhat wiser with age. When my body said, “Fully baked!” I let go of the goal and tapped out.
I could have kept going, but it wasn’t worth the risk. I might have gotten so dehydrated I’d feel terrible tomorrow. I might have passed out (a year to the day after my concussion).
I wisely let go of the goal this time and said “Next time.”
Too often I see leaders push themselves and their teams to meet a goal, often arbitrary, far beyond what is productive for anyone involved.
- They keep the team in a meeting to come up with a solution even though everyone’s brain is fried.
- They keep iterating on something in the quest for the impossible “perfect,” not stopping to realize that sometimes (often) good is good enough.
- They push themselves to keep working working working until the thing is done, even if it hurts their health. (Please raise your hand if you’ve had the internal discussion that you’ll let yourself go the bathroom “as soon as this is done!” I’m raising mine!)
Growth as a leader comes with knowing when it’s time to tap out and having the courage to do so.
Not forever. Just for now.
Regroup. Reassess. Then try again.
That mindset? It brings ease. Knowing you’ll get there at the right time.
So yes, set the goal. The best leaders set challenging goals.
Those who lead with ease? They have the courage to tap out. Not forever. Just for now.