A wish for you in 2022:

Especially if you are in any type of leadership role…you are expected to do a lot for other people right now. You are living a busy life, with back-to-back meetings, a long list of objectives, daily distractions, and endless expectations from others….

But what about You? Who is going to look out for You this year? Make this year the year for self-compassion.

What is Self-compassion?

And what does Self-compassion have to do with leadership?

Self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself the same way you would treat a dear friend, a loved one, or a committed colleague; especially in moments that are tough, and we feel stressed or we are having a hard time. Kristin Neff, author of the book Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself, defines self-compassion as having three elements:

Mindfulness: Being in the present moment to acknowledge what is actually going on with us; how we are actually feeling. For example, high achievers are often so busy performing so many tasks, that they may not be aware of how hard they drive themselves to meet high expectations, or of how that harsh driving really feels to them.

Common Humanity: Realizing and feeling the connection that we are all human and all make mistakes and all experience difficult situations sometimes. This can be easy to forget when we are doing important jobs, with significant impact, where people are depending on us to get it right every time, all the time.

Self-kindness: Offering ourselves encouragement and unconditional acceptance of ourselves when we fall short. This is to overcome the frequent tendency high achievers often have to be overly critical of ourselves, as motivation for that high performance. We say things to ourselves that we would not say to a good friend or a close team member.

So, to actually practice self-compassion, you can take what Neff calls a short 3-minute “Self-Compassion Break.”

1. Think of a current challenging situation in your life. And identify any difficult feelings you are having about it. (That is Mindfulness.)

2. Remind yourself that all people, no matter how successful, struggle at times. (That is Common humanity.)

3. Ask the key Self-Compassion question: “What do I need right now?”, and take a small action toward that. (That is the Self-kindness.)

Since I am a recovering high achiever myself, …..I am guessing you may be thinking of all the reasons this does not apply to you, ….and how your responsibilities are too great and too urgent to think about self-compassion. After all, you are responsible for results...period.

Before you think this may not apply to you…try it. …And see what happens when you are seriously kind to yourself…Look for the impact it has on how you then treat others.

And I will leave you to answer the question for yourself:

What does Self-compassion have to do with leadership?

Happy New Year!