Protecting your most precious gem – you

One of the things that I have learnt over the last few years is how important it is for people to protect their most precious gem – themselves. 

I learnt the lesson quite hard after I had a period where I neglected my gem. I tried being all things to all people. I stopped looking after me. I stopped listening to my body. I believed that regular caffeine via my local Starbucks would keep me going. And it did for a period of time.

And then one day, it didn’t.

I reached a point where my body said “enough is enough” and took things into its own hands. It made me stop,

At that time I was balancing a full commitment at work and at home. I was working full time. I was a husband to a caring wife who was needing support. I was a dad to a toddler and a set of baby twins. And I was a dad to a toddler and a set of baby twins who each had special/additional needs. 

Let’s just say I was running low on energy and sleep. And instead of listening to my internal messages telling me to take a step back, to take my foot of the peddle, and to stop trying to be everything to everyone – I carried on. 

And then early one morning I had a really bad migraine attack – migraines are something I have suffered with since I was a toddler – which led to me collapsing and having a couple of seizures – something I have never had in my life. And for the next three months I had a constant migraine, I couldn’t get up without feeling completely dizzy, and I couldn’t focus on anything. 

Looking back I know that this was my body making me stop. And looking back at the time before the episode, I now realise that by trying to be everything to everyone, I was actually not being everything to anyone. Nobody was getting a good deal from me. Nobody was getting what they needed – and what they deserved. 

Why am I writing about this now?

Well, as someone who is working on leading a great team, I know that for me to be the best me I need to listen to my body more – and also, make sure the members off my team are looking after theirs too.

So I’ve started to take a step back when my body feels like it’s getting to a point where I need caffiene. I’ve started to notice when I’m not being the best me at work – and at home – and take actions to balance it. Sometimes this means prioritising work and sometimes it means prioritising home life. But I’m comfortable with that now.

And I’ve started to monitor and regularly check in with each member of my team too. 

If I notice they have stopped being the best them I’ve started to take some actions – such as reprioritising workloads, moving deadlines, being more flexible in the working arrangements, etc – for them. Sometimes this has been with their awareness – and sometimes I’ve done it subtly as I felt that they weren’t in the right place to understand and agree, before bringing it up when they’ve been in a better place.

You only have one you – and I’ve learnt the hard way that you really have to prioritise your most precious gem. So, make sure you protect yours.

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