July 25, 2022

How to Recover from your next Leadership Breakdown (Challenge #25)

How to Recover from your next Leadership Breakdown (Challenge #25)

As I mentioned back in episode 10, I am the proud owner of a Peloton. One of the big reasons I bought a Peloton was because I have to exercise first thing in the morning or it never happens, and there’s not really any better way to ensure I exercise first thing in the morning than to have a $2000 spin bike sitting 5 feet from the edge of my bed. There’s probably an episode on establishing good leadership habits in there, but that’s a topic for another day. Today’s topic instead is an epiphany I had in a class I took this morning, and how it might help you reframe your next leadership breakdown.
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Coaching and Speaking inquiries: sarah@kindleadershipguild.com

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Transcript

As I mentioned back in episode 10, I am the proud owner of a Peloton. One of the big reasons I bought a Peloton was because I have to exercise first thing in the morning or it never happens, and there’s not really any better way to ensure I exercise first thing in the morning than to have a $2000 spin bike sitting 5 feet from the edge of my bed. There’s probably an episode on establishing good leadership habits in there, but that’s a topic for another day. Today’s topic instead is an epiphany I had in a class I took this morning, and how it might help you reframe your next leadership breakdown.
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Welcome to the Kind Leadership Challenge, where I empower educational and library leaders like you to detox your organizations! I’m Sarah Clark, founder of the Kind Leadership Guild. My PhD in higher ed Leadership, my experience coaching, consulting, and presenting to library leaders all over the world, and a career working in academic libraries from the front desk to the Dean’s office taught me that leaders don't have to be perfect to build a better world. And now I want to share those same lessons with you.  

Here's the deal. You give me the next few minutes of your day. In return, I'll share short stories and simple challenges designed to heal yourself and your school or library, so you can get back to making the impact you wish to see in your communities. By embarking on each week’s challenge on your own or in our private facebook group, you and your team will begin growing humanely, managing effectively, and partnering collaboratively, and your school or library will build a more informed and educated world along the way.

Hey, did you know I also do online and in-person presentations, keynotes, and workshop facilitation? If you need an expert on library and educational leadership issues for your next conference, webinar, or staff development day, email me at  sarah@kindleadershipguild.com for details. I can only do a few engagements a semester between my day job and my 1 on 1 Kind Leadership coaching, so contact me as soon as you can to find out more, and get on my fall calendar.

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I was wrapping up a pretty intense training program I’ve been doing the last 6 weeks, and taking a recovery ride in advance of a output test ride tomorrow that will cap off the program. Like the name of the ride suggests, I was taking things easy, really just spinning my legs out at medium-high speed and low resistance. The instructor, Matt, was chatting away about the need to have light rides as well as challenging ones in your training program, the need for rest, all that stuff. Between you and me I wasn’t listening all that closely, because again, it was a recovery ride, and I didn’t have to listen closely for a bunch of interval cues or anything. It was just a chill, steady ride where I could focus on my form and let my mind wander a little. And then, as happens every so often on the bike, Matt said something so inadvertently powerful that I immediately bumped this week’s planned topic and decided we were gonna talk about this instead.

 Matt said: “A breakdown can be a good thing! During a hard workout we break the body down so it can come back stronger.”

Now of course, Matt was talking about muscle fibers, but because my brain works the way it works, I immediately translated it to breakdown in a school or library’s normal functioning, be they a leadership overreach, or something more systemic like a budget crisis or political pressures. 

Our teams and our organizations and even our wills as leaders break down from time to time. If there’s a way around that reality I haven’t found it. And being an optimistic overachiever at heart, I tend to not think about that very much, and try to work around it. And in the past I’ve tried to deny that reality, which only leads to a worse breakdown in the end, of not outright burnout.   

But as Matt said in a somewhat more literal manner, accepting, sitting with, and slowly recovering from the pain of leadership breakdown can actually form the foundation for deeper healing. I see so many ed and library leaders struggling with everything that’s being thrown at them in this moment, and I just encourage them—and you---and me—to take the time and nurturing needed to recover. 

Because I realized recently that I’ve grown in a truly epic and unexpected way in the wake of my last few breakdowns. I work smarter, but a lot less. I still take on cool projects at work and with the kind leadership guild, but only I they make sense in the context of my wellness and goals. I’m a lot less hard on myself, and I make decisions a lot more easily, because now I know I can come back from getting things wrong. And I’m a lot gentler with myself, which means I’m modeling more sustainable patterns for those I work with, and those I coach.

And that right there is some impressive recovery if I say so myself.

So with that, I’m calling it an early night and wrapping up this episode, as I have that big output test first thing in the morning. I’m gonna give it my all, hopefully get a good number, and then have a nice restful week of light rides and plenty of recovery. And that’s my challenge for you! Take it easy this week. Relax a bit. Recover. Only do what’s absolutely necessary to keep your school or library humming. And you just might find that you’re all a lot stronger on the other side of your recovery. Shoot me an email or let me know in the facebook group how it goes. 

Oh, and one programming note—Next week as I record this, I will be attending the Leadership Institute for Academic Librarians at Harvard. Yes, THAT Harvard! Now, I could theoretically record an episode after I get back to town on Friday evening, but I think I’m going to take my own advice from this episode, use that weekend to recover a little bit, and repost a classic episode. We’ve actually had a pretty good-sized jump in listeners the last few weeks, so it’s a smart time to rerun an old favorite anyway! Welcome to all our new listeners, and always feel free to send me an email or post in the kind leadership challenge facebook community if you have any thoughts you want to share.

Thanks for listening and for taking action to become a kinder leader. If you found this week’s episode insightful, give the show a rating or review—or even better, tell your fellow leaders!  Never doubt that day by day, you’re building a better world, even if you can't see it yet. So until next time, stay kind now.     

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