Me: How are you sleeping?
New coaching client: What the hell does that have to do with anything?
Me: If you want to be a truly effective and great leader, everything.
This is a common conversation with new (and often Type A) coaching clients. It is my opinion that to be a truly effective senior leader, you have to be your best you – and to achieve this, it is vital to be well rested. Sometimes, you may need to revert to start-up mode, work 20-hour days, and get by on a lot less sleep…maybe. That’s okay; however, in an ideal world, you will get to a point where you are waking up before the alarm, enthused for the day, clear-headed, and ready to roll.
Below are three simple reminders that can have a substantial impact on your life, your leadership skills, and overall effectiveness.
- Remove electronics. This one is straightforward, but it never ceases to amaze me how often people slip back into this habit. Removing phones, computers, and TVs from the bedroom can have major positive effects on the quality of our sleep. Placing these devices in another room will put more intentionality on sleep. I often find that this small act empowers people to go to sleep early – anywhere from 20 minutes to two hours earlier – and gives this time back to focus on rest and recovery. It is small, yet impactful.
- Avoid screen time an hour before. There are all sorts of studies suggesting the more you can get away from a screen before sleep, the better your sleep will be, especially if you are mindlessly browsing through Facebook or Tik Tok videos, or watching drama/violence-filled TV. Ideally, talking with a partner or reading helps to calm the mind, allowing for better sleep. If your response to this is, “I fall asleep on the first page of a book,” it sounds like you might need more sleep and less Tik Tok.
- Set an intention of gratitude. I believe our subconscious is working all the time. Where we allow our thinking to go right before we drift off to sleep can dramatically impact our rest. In the same vein of less screen time before sleep time, setting a positive intention can have a hugely positive impact. I believe this can even help us avoid being woken up in the middle of the night by our subconscious wrestling with a current challenge. Mentally give yourself permission to let those thoughts go for the night; instead, try thinking of several positive points and things you are grateful for.
I realize these three steps are simple. However, if by doing this, you become more rested, the results can have a massive impact. Some specific benefits of being well rested include clarity of thought, increased patience, a desire to exercise, a different perspective, a greater ability to be present, and a jump in creativity. All of these attributes will contribute to becoming a better, more effective leader. For some, getting that extra rest may feel selfish. The reality is, we should look at it as our obligation, simply because it makes us better – better leaders, partners, parents, friends. And it can make us better looking. Yep, just by getting a bit more sleep.
My challenge to you is to try these three techniques for one week and note any differences. You will be amazed and refreshed! Let me know how it works out.