Episode 69 – Lockdown Leadership | Self-Care

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Across this 5-part podcast series, I chat with Becky Hammond from Isogo Strong and unpack some common leadership themes that we have seen stand out during this crisis. As we’ve coached and worked with leaders over the past several months, themes have emerged where the best leaders are thriving and implementing changes to successfully take their team and organisation forward. These themes include Grace & Kindness, Communication, Individualization, Clarity, and Self-care.

In this episode, we focus on SELF-CARE. The need for prioritization of self to show up better for others and yourself, and how it is often the first thing to go when things get busy.
We also discuss how self-care is beyond just the physical and how it includes mental, emotional and the spiritual. Importantly it’s also about self-reflection, and giving yourself that time to unplug and process – or your health can suffer later.
Key highlights include:
  • Self-care doesn’t change the busyness, but it changes your perspective and outlook so you can show up better for yourself and your team.
  • Self-care isn’t selfish. It gives you time to process, self-reflect and regenerate.
  • No-one wants the burnt-out version of you.
Actionable steps to take from this episode:
  • Where is your third space? Take the time to reinvest in this.
  • Make your self-care time non-negotiable – schedule it in, create boundaries and show up for yourself.
  • Give yourself a mental break – you can only control what you can control.
  • Ask your team, how are they investing in their own self-care this week?
These conversations with Becky are always valuable, she brings a wealth of knowledge and inspiration from the other side of the world. I hope you follow along with this series here on the podcast as we get into 4 more themes that have shined through the best leaders in this time of lockdown.
If you gained inspiration from this episode and the rest of this special podcast series then you will love our program, Leaders Who Give a Damn, where we take these concepts even further.

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Murray Guest  00:00

Welcome everybody to conversation five in what the best leaders are doing during lockdown. Here I am, again with Becky Hammond. And we are talking about taking care of self and self care. Such an important thing right now, and has been obviously through COVID-19. And right now in this period of transition, and it’s honestly something which I think, unfortunately we do sometimes as people and as leaders we can let slip. But right off the bat, I’m going to say self care isn’t selfish, looking after yourself is so important. And as we’re going to explore in this conversation, how the best leaders are making sure they’re investing in themselves, so they can show up for themselves the best, for the people they lead, and for everyone else around them. Becky, how are you? And what do you think about this whole topic of self care?


Becky Hammond  00:54

Hmm, you know, this is one that I’m particularly excited about, I think, you know, one of the leaders that I spoke with, have you had the chance to listen to the strength in crisis series that we did on the podcast anyway, one of the healthcare leaders said, I have never worked so hard to achieve so little. Now there is a lot like some people, you know, went home and felt like they had a lot of time, and some industries, and some organizations and some leaders felt like, oh, my goodness, I didn’t think that life could get any busier or any more stressful. And so, you know, it has been hard for leaders in especially in those industries to say, Yeah, I should prioritize myself, right? Because just like you said, you know, you’re a little catchy catchphrase, like, taking care of yourself isn’t selfish. And it’s not. And not only is it not selfish, but it is the best thing that you can do for your leadership and for your team members as well. I had a, there was a leader who that I was talking to who blocked out time when she hit a wall. She like woke up one morning, she had hit a wall. And she just said, What am I going to do about this, and when she reflected on her life, she’s like I have been working for 24 days straight. And there’s no way that I’m, that this is good for me or for my team. And so she looked at her calendar and just said the next time I could do this, is like a Tuesday or something, next time I could do that is Friday morning, blocked out for a couple hours. She exercised that morning, she went on a walk with her kids. And she just, she took care of her body and her mind. And she was able to show up that day. And the following week, even with just such a different energy to her work, even though the stress stayed the same. The busyness maintained the same but because she has chosen to pause and take care of herself, her entire perspective and outlook changed.


Murray Guest  03:00

You remind me of helmet time.


Becky Hammond  03:03

What? Oh, helmet time, like how much time like riding a bike? The goal?


Murray Guest  03:08

Yeah, yes, yes, a bicycle. Okay. So a leader I was talking to about a week ago, in a session he was talking about his feeling of stress of anxiousness of overwhelm, very aligned with unfortunately, your leader of working so hard, but feeling like not getting stuff done right now, not achieving. And we’re doing a call on zoom. And in the background is his bike, his bicycle. And I said to him, when was the last time you rode your bike? He goes, I used to ride twice a week, but I hadn’t written now for a month. And he said, I love riding my bike, but I just don’t have time right now. And I said, I said, What is it like when you ride your bike? And he said, I feel free. I feel like I’m a child again. And I totally align. You know, I love my riding my bike. And, and I said, so what’s happened? He said, I just haven’t been making time for it. But you know what he said, I miss my helmet time. And it’s that that getting out and doing that thing, that exercise, his self care. Yes, it’s physical, but also the emotional connection and the mental benefits of riding the bike. And so he calls it his helmet time. And I love that. And I’ve heard from him since that he’s been back out for some helmet time a couple of times a week and feeling so much better. Yeah, so much. Just short, short bicycle rides. But again, it’s the neural connection of when he’s on the bike, he’s taken to a different place and feels better.


Becky Hammond  04:50

So yeah, and it’s not always about necessarily the physicality of it, though that is a part of it, taking care of your body, your physical body, it’s also creating a mental space. And so on a bicycle, you could probably do both, right, you’re creating this, there’s a physicality to it. But there’s also this mental space of like, no one’s calling me, you know, no-one’s talking to me, I’m able to either check out if that’s what you need to do or use that time to process through things without interruptions, without judgment from yourself or others of what you’re doing as you’re just sitting there and thinking. It also looks like maybe scheduling a vacation or a staycation or making sure that you’re blocking time off where you are unplugged for a while. There was a leader that I was working with who said, you know, she was too busy to take a vacation, but she was going to do it anyway. Because she realized that not only was it good for her, but she wanted her team to feel through the freedom to say it is okay to unplug. And that, you know, she just came back and she like, I feel so much better. Like I feel like, Yes, she’s like, yes, I do want to stay on vacation, I wanted to just stay here. But now that I am back, I feel refreshed. I feel a new sense of energy to be able to put into this role. And so not only was it for herself, but then also for her team to say like, Look, if somebody at this level can take a vacation without checking their email, and without getting on calls, then, you know, I can, I can do that too. And you will find as a leader that your team comes back, refreshed, and maybe they even come back with new ideas. Because time away helps you to have perspective.


Murray Guest  06:47

Yeah, and I think what you’re exploring there, Becky, something that’s so important, and that’s those leadership symbols and walking the talk, which demonstrate the the importance of something, not just by saying it, of course, by doing it. When we talk about self care, like, you know, taking a break, what else do you think leaders could be doing to demonstrate that to their team?


Becky Hammond  07:12

You know, I think part of it has to do with, okay, so we talked about physicality, we talked about taking a break. So there’s like a physical aspect and mental aspect. There’s also kind of a self reflection aspect of, if you’re really taking care of yourself, you are leaving time in your day, or your thought processes, to come to a deep awareness of how you show up, how that matters, what your strengths are, what energy you have when you walk into a room, you know, we talked about our leaders who give a damn program like, what if you could just pause for a second before you bust into a room? I mean, maybe not a bust, no, maybe not a bust-in kind of type, but before you walk into a room like what energy are you bringing in there? Are you bringing a nervous energy? Are you bringing your stress energy? Or are you bringing something that when people walk in, they’re like, oh, leaders here, that’s awesome. Right? Like, oh, there’s a peace that you bring just by being here, like, Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad to see you. Because, you know, as we talked about in our last episode, like you bring a sense of clarity, I can ask you these questions, I know we have trust together. So just understanding like, it’s all part of self care, I think this idea of self awareness, being a part of our self care, and that it benefits, you know, not only you and your psyche, but your team, as you really are aware of how you’re showing up and what that impact is that you’re having on them.


Murray Guest  08:36

Yeah, and all those little symbols, again, create a culture, they encourage the team behavior, they also help you demonstrate how they can be at their best. I can share unfortunately, an example that’s not as good. And a leader I was talking to in the last month, and he was talking about his business. And I said, how’s the team going? He said, Oh I make sure the team have lunch every day. I encourage them to have lunch every day. And they have lunch in an area not far from my office. I’ve got a double door into my office and I can see them. And I said so what do you do when they come in to have lunch? And he said, I don’t have time for lunch. I just quickly eat my food in front of the computer. And I said, So how do you think that looks? I’ve got some inauthenticity, some misalignment there. And he goes, Oh I never thought about that. I said, So the team connects over lunch, you know, you bond as people over food. And even if you take out 15 minutes, if you do have some busyness, you’re gonna send a different message. He goes, Oh I have never thought about that.


Becky Hammond  09:49

Yeah. Oh, man. That’s such a good example, and how easy it is for you know, us as leaders to be like, well, I’m busy, but they should do this but I’m not, you know, that creates an environment that you probably aren’t contending as leader. Talk a little bit about, you talk a little bit about seeing articles on LinkedIn and things like that about the third space. What does that mean? What is it? You’re talking about investing in the third space? What does that mean? And what does it have to do with our self care and our well being?


Murray Guest  10:19

I have loved this conversation about the third space, I’ve been sharing with a range of people in my workshops, and yeah, as you said, on LinkedIn, I put a post on there, which has had a lot of traction, which is fantastic. It’s something which I find is a real simple way for us to think about where we’re investing our time and you know, that self care to be at our best. So, you know, if you think about home is your first space. And then work is your second space. And generally, for people, let’s just say, pre COVID-19, they were very separate. I’m at home, I go to work. And they’re separate. And in between those is a commute in some description, maybe drive, public transport, walk, ride a bike. And then our third space is this thing that we do in our life that is separate from home and work, which helps us be at our best, something we love doing, invest in your self care, we’re passionate about. And it could be riding a bike, it might be going to the gym, it could be doing yoga, and maybe reading a book, could be catching up with friends and shopping, might be going to the cinema, to the movies. You know, I could go on and on and on. Yeah, all the possibilities. What has happened, unfortunately, in the past few months is space one and space two come together as one thing. Working at home, and my space one, space two is together, I’m at home. And I’ve also not able to invest in my third space, because things aren’t happening, things are closed down, or I’ve got restrictions. That has led to, unfortunately, stress and impacts on well being, mental health. So we need to pause and reinvest in that third space, create that third space. And honestly, I think it’s something so again, simple but can have a real reset and how we’re looking after ourselves. So for example, my wife, Tammy, she’s been doing yoga at home. The local yoga studio has been doing classes online. And that’s been really good for her. People I know that have got a stationary bike at home, and they might ride the bike at lunchtime at home. People that had been catching up with friends, and then they couldn’t, have started to catch up with friends whilst maintaining social distancing. But they’re going for a walk together separately, but starting to connect, because that third space is so important because we know our world is just work and home all blended together. We haven’t got that distinction to help us be at our best.


Becky Hammond  13:13

Yeah, it seems like no matter what, it’s the first thing to go right. Like when life gets stressful, let alone the fact that your worlds have collided, that it’s the first thing to go. I remember, I’ve actually just recently got back to it. But I’ve been doing ceramics. So I like to throw things, make things out of clay. And I had done this for 13 years. And then I started working a job in San Diego where it was many, many hours. And I got achiever, like overdrive. And I didn’t do that anymore, you know, and so this is like way before the world that we’re living in right now. And yet, it’s like it’s that, that I would always when I was doing it regularly, I would every Wednesday I would say, Oh I don’t want to go. And then David would say, Yeah, but you always feel better when you do. And then I would say, Fine, I’ll go. And then when I came back, it was like, Oh my gosh, it was amazing. It’s awesome. And I was like a different person. I was like a better person to be around. And that’s, you know, that’s what you offer your team when you set aside time for the third space even when you don’t want to, and it doesn’t have to be physical. It can be like you said reading a book, or you know, as it was for me like putting my hands in mutton you know, it’s just a, there’s a different psyche that’s created when you decide to invest in a difference space outside your family.


Murray Guest  14:35

In the Leaders Who Give a Damn program, in the module of well being, I remember us talking about joy. And one of the things that bring you joy and making the time to reflect what are those things that bring you joy and revisiting those and bring those back into your life. And, ceramics, for you, I’m just hearing that right now. It lights you up, gives you joy. And you’re a better person to be around.


Becky Hammond  15:02

Yep, that is true, you can ask my husband.


Murray Guest  15:06

So similar, similar to another leader that I’ve been working with, he is a surfer, he loves to surf and he’s one of those water people, he loves being in the water. And if he doesn’t get that surf, he can start to feel a bit grumpy and is a bit tough to be around. And he knows that about what he does. And what he has been doing is making sure he gets that surf in. And he’s even been, I would say, quite clear, again, linking back to our conversation on clarity, clear on his boundaries, he’ll look at when the surf is up, as they say, and he’ll make sure that he’s able to go for that surf, but then he’ll work longer hours when he needs to. And he’s actually, he’s had a meeting come through from a peer that said, Can we meet at this time? And he said, Oh no I’m unavailable at that time. I’m going for a surf. And they said, what!? And he said, No, we can chat at six o’clock tonight if it’s that important, otherwise, tomorrow, but I need to get my surf in today. Again, setting some boundaries and making sure he’s looking after himself. And I know that might be hard for some people to do in the type of work that they do. So more think about, well, what is your third space? And what does your self care look like? And make sure you’re creating those boundaries. And you’re doing that for yourself as well.


Becky Hammond  16:24

Yeah. Yeah. And so then what’s the impact? You know, you and I’ve kind of just both been dancing around it. But what are we like, what’s the impact on your team if you decide to take care of yourself? Why do we say that self care isn’t selfish?


Murray Guest  16:42

Well, do you either make time for your health now or make time to be sick later on? And that’s not from me, that’s from Dr. Mark Hyman, he says that, and I totally agree with that. And it’s about taking that time out for you now. Because down the track, there’ll be things which will, will show up, unfortunately, in your own health and well being. And I also think that you are lucky, you said and articulated so well, you’re a better person to be around when you have invested in that self care. You’re a better communicator, you’re leading better, you’re showing up. Excuse me, I’m going to cough. Better connection with your team for sure.


Becky Hammond  17:28

Yeah. Yeah. I mean, no one wants the burnt out version of you. I think in the end, that’s what it comes down to, you’re gonna show up better for your team and for your family, both, both of those first two worlds, if you invest in your third. You know, the burnt out version, I’ve seen leaders who are the burnt out version, and they are not kind people to be around. Nor do they seem to treat their family well, either. You know, there was a guy that was the leader of one of the managers that I was managing. And there was a story that he was kind of proud of that on the day that his daughter was born, within 30 minutes of her birth, he was taking a call that he just had to take. And that just, I mean, that just ruffled the feathers of relator guy, like you? And that wasn’t being an inspiring leadership example that his team was after at all, and know that burnt out version creates somebody who’s quicker to get angry, they’re more impatient. And that impatience comes at home, it comes with your team. And that ends up being the result when you don’t take care of yourself, you don’t invest in that, in that third space.


Murray Guest  18:49

100%. Yeah, and there’s an ad for paracetamol that we have in Australia, and I can’t remember which company it is. It doesn’t matter, I think in this point, but their slogan is soldier on. Make sure you can soldier on. And it’s all about, you know, pressing on. And yes, there’s some things that we need to get done each day. And yes, we need to make sure we were there for our family, and yet work hard and for our teams that we lead. But in essence, we’re also going to look after ourselves along the way. We’re going to pause. We’ve got to make sure we’re filling that cup and investing in our third space. So Becky, I would ask if the leaders listening to our conversation today, are thinking, Okay, I’m hearing all this and I’m starting to think about what I can do to invest in my self care. What’s the action, do you think, that would help them move this forward?


Becky Hammond  19:47

Yeah, there’s two things that really come to my mind. One is very tangible, which is a scheduled time. So you create calendar events all day. Right, you create calendar events with your, your team members, maybe you are starting to create clarity in your team and you have a morning huddle, you create time in your calendar, that’s one of the things we talk about in tackling busyness in Leaders Who Give a Damn is, it feels like you don’t have control of your calendar. And there are some things that are just outside your control. But there are little things that you can do to make a difference. And this one will make a huge difference, scheduling time in your calendar for self health, for the opportunity to invest in that third space. And just start with you know, if I was going to be very, very practical as I just start with one time per week, and maybe that’s 10 minutes before you usually wake up in the morning. Or maybe it’s you know, as the leader that you worked with said like scheduling, blocking out the time when the surf is high. Maybe it’s scheduling a lunch break in, because you’ve been working from home, and you realize, well, I could go out and hang out with my kids for 15 minutes, whatever feels life giving, but don’t make it – I caution again, especially if you’re a leader that’s listening to this and you’re like interested in self growth, you’re probably like, okay, yeah, I could do this, right – like, if there’s an inclination to say, I’m going to do it all or I’m going to do not at all. And just start small and said, You don’t have to do it all, just start small. That just one small change in your calendar scheduling time would be the first thing that I would recommend. And the second part has a little bit more to do with mindset, giving yourself a mental break. Letting yourself know like this self care to teach yourself and to talk to yourself to say, you can only control what you can control. And everything else you have to let go. And trust that it will happen that you’ve been doing all these other things like giving grace and kindness, you’ve been talking to your team, have been providing clarity, you’ve been flexible and individualizing, you are doing everything, you are building yourself up as the great manager. Those are the things you can control. If you can’t control it, you have to let go. And you will give yourself a mental break, you will invest in your well being by just saying you know what, I can’t control that. And so I’m going to, you know, not worry about it. Easier said than done. But it gives yourself a mental break when when you enable yourself to do that.


Murray Guest  22:29

I totally agree. And I think that’s a beautiful link back to our last conversation on clarity. Bring that clarity in about, you know, what can I focus on? What can I not? And taking the time to journal that, write that down, working through and process that. I would love to just add a third little suggestion for the leaders. Yes, this is about self care, but also the care for your team and asking your team, how are they investing their own self care?


Becky Hammond  22:54

Yeah, I love that.


Murray Guest  22:57

We talked in the last conversation about, obviously, clarity and how you bring that to the table with your team. But also, my suggestion is how can you bring this conversation to the table as well? And just asking them, how are you investing in yourself this weekend or in this week, so that they are also making sure that they’re being at their best, and explore the concept of their third space, and what that looks like for them. Again, knowing your people is very important as leaders, and this is a way to show that you really give a damn about them, and you’re making sure they’re looking after themselves.


Becky Hammond  23:29

Yeah, and what better way, no better way really, than to be doing it yourself. Because that gives you a lot of credibility as you go into that conversation with them.


Murray Guest  23:38

100% Becky, this has been, again, a great chat and a great series as we’ve talked about these leaders in lockdown, and the leaders in lockdown that are making the best out of this difficult and challenging time, and how they have been demonstrating some of these themes that you and I have talked about over these five conversations. We’ve talked about obviously going all the way back to grace and kindness and how important that is and leading with grace and kindness, we talk about communication, individualization, which obviously is so important in knowing the individual needs and requirements of your team members. Last week, we talked about clarity. And here we’ve just wrapped up talking about self care and how important it is to look after yourself. So many great stories of what leaders are doing so well right now. And a couple of examples of the not so good ones. But also, you know, I’m learning from you all the time, these conversations Becky about your experiences as well. So thank you for all that you bring to these conversations.


Becky Hammond  24:52

Thank you. I feel like that the thanks goes to the leaders because leaders are the ones, you guys are the ones that are doing the hard work. You know, if it ever comes off that Murray and I are saying that this is an easy thing, you just put these five themes into place, and you should be, you know, hunky dory. Easy, breezy. That’s not what we’re talking about, you know, you guys know, as leaders that you’re, you’re doing the hard work, and by investing in growth of yourself and of your team, and learning from other leaders that are doing it well, that are saying, you know what this situation sucks. But we will, as leaders, have an opportunity and a privilege and honor to be able to impact how people feel about this season. And, and can provide real stability, trust, hope, compassion, the things that your followers need, and that your team members need. You are the ones that have that potential.


Murray Guest  25:52

And I just like to also say, Becky, after a conversation I had this week, and one of my sessions with some leaders, I finished it saying, I don’t want you to finish this session thinking this means a lot more work. And I certainly don’t want any leader thinking, out of these conversations thinking Becky and Murray are saying, oh, wow, I’ve got all these extra things to do, right now. I know, that’s not our intent. Our intent is actually, honestly, for a lot of us is doing less. And also changing a little bit, the way you do some things. So that actually gives you more value, and really helps demonstrate how much you care about your people through your words and actions. And it might feel like extra time right now for some of these conversations. But you’ll see those benefits we’ve been exploring in these conversations.


Becky Hammond  26:43

Yep, you can really be a leader who gives a damn.


Murray Guest  26:45

So as Becky just said, Leaders Who Give a Damn is a fantastic, and I say that because I think it was so great, all the conversations we had in Leaders Who Give a Damn, we explored seven key elements of what that looks like in that program, we talked about self awareness, wellbeing, know your people, managing perceptions, prioritizing conversations, and valuing relationships and tackling busyness. And obviously, in today’s conversation of self care, and links well to wellbeing and to self awareness. And as I remember I was talking about in that program, you can’t be the leader you want to be if you don’t look after yourself. You need to make sure you put the fuel in your tank. And certainly there’s lots of links in today’s conversation in those modules. If you want to know more, check out Leaders Who Give a Damn. Obviously, there’s the conversations I just mentioned and each one of those modules of those conversations, we support you with resources and worksheets to help you apply the key things we talk about. So check out the show notes to have a look at Leaders Who Give a Damn.


Becky Hammond  27:59

Sounds awesome. We’d love to have you a part of our community. And it’s been really fun to have these conversations and hopefully provide some insights that our leaders, that we have the honor to work with, have been showing us.


Murray Guest  28:12

100%. So wishing everyone health, happiness, safety and self care beyond this conversation and look forward to talking to you again soon, Becky, Thanks again so much.


Becky Hammond  28:24

All right. It’s been a pleasure. Bye now. Bye.


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