I mentioned last week how my valuing of sleep has ratcheted up several notches after going through a season where sleep was elusive. And as I’ve thought more about that, there’s one more thing that I want to say about the subject of sleeplessness.
Sometimes sleeplessness is part of leadership.
As a leader, have you ever been kept awake because your mind is racing with possibilities? Whether positive or negative, I think any leader who is truly invested has dealt with this issue. We are by nature do-ers. We are FILO – first in, last out. We invest our heart and soul into what we lead. And sometimes the challenges, the issues, and the future possibilities can cause our minds to rev up to the point we can barely close our eyes. It’s not a medication that does that – it’s leadership adrenaline.
There’s a quote that I’ve got taped to the wall above my desk. One day I want to get it printed and framed; it’s one of those quotes that captures perfectly the essence of leadership passion.
“Enough of playing small; enough of playing safe; it’s time for a grander vision.” –Bill Hybels
I think any leader can read that and immediately their heart starts pounding a little harder and their body tenses for action! That’s what leadership adrenaline does. But what do you do as a leader when you start losing sleep because you can’t rev down and turn your mind off?
For me, there are four things I have to constantly remind myself of:
1) There are factors that I can simply do nothing about.
Guess what? Every church, every business, every organization deals with factors that the leader does not have 100% control over. We have to acknowledge that fact as reality and own it. Thus it has always been; thus it will always be.
2) I cannot fix everything.
For someone with a fixer mentality like me, that’s sometimes hard to admit. But as a leader, I KNOW it’s true. I cannot fix everything – I can’t even fix most things! But I can lead teams to do so. Which takes me to number 3…
3) I have a team that is MORE than capable of handling what arises.
Yes indeed. I am privileged to work with a team that is MORE than capable, and it’s only when I forget that fact that I start to rev up and amp up. The tendency in any type A leader is to want to do it yourself, but that’s NOT leading with diligence – in fact, it’s very poor leadership. When I recognize this behavior pattern asserting itself, I have to take a step back, remember that the team I lead is incredibly capable (else they wouldn’t be here!), and allow/encourage them to lead. And take my hands off. That’s the hard part.
When I actually remember that and do that (far too seldom at first blush), I find that things go WAY better than if I had invested my limited time and energy in doing it my way. Leaders invest in others – they don’t try to do it all themselves because guess what? You don’t have all the gifts and skills and abilities, and neither do I.
4) God is sovereign.
I’m teaching a series on the book of Nahum right now, and this is a central point to that book. God is sovereign. Which means that I am not. Shocking, I know. Leaders, we are not the all, end all, be all. The sun does not rise with our awakening in the morning, and the sun does not set when we lie down. When I remember that God is sovereign and I am not, it really helps me to put things in proper perspective.
Have you ever lost sleep as a leader? What would you add to the list above?