3 Tips for Pacing Your Work for Lasting Success February 14 2012

There was a vastly underrated road trip movie last year starring Zach Galifianakis and Robert Downey Jr. called “Due Date.” Downey plays an uptight businessman and Galifianakis plays a goofy but lovable stoner. They take a cross-country trip together. Hilarity ensues.

Whenever Downey’s character would explode in rage, Galifianakis’ character would say, “Hey, you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.” It’s one of my favorite catchphrases ever. Not sure why I love it so much. Part of it was Galifianakis’ delivery, I guess. Part of it is the rhyme. The biggest reason it sticks with me is because I think it’s a great mantra for most leaders today.

Here’s my evidence for that. For the last seven years, I’ve run 360-degree surveys and self-assessments based on the leadership model in “The Next Level” with thousands of executives and managers. The lowest-rated item across that group for the past seven years has been: “Pace(s) myself/himself/herself by building in regular breaks from work.”

In the 360 surveys, the colleagues usually rate the leaders low on that behavior, and the leaders’ self-assessments are even lower than those of their colleagues. By the way, the scores have gotten lower every year.

What’s going on? Here’s what I see.

It’s getting crazier out there every day. Harvard Kennedy School leadership guru Ron Heifetz likes to say that leaders can either be on the dance floor or the balcony, and that it’s vital to alternate your perspective between the two regularly. The demands of modern work and life have most leaders dancing as fast as they can with very little time spent on the balcony to rest, renew and get a different perspective.

The demands of today’s world are great. How, though, can you have a reasonable shot at showing up at your best if you’re dancing ‘til you drop? As Galifianakis would say, “You better check yourself before you wreck yourself.”

In this Video Coaching Segment, I offer three simple, practical ideas for doing just that by pacing yourself by building in regular breaks from work:

Want more information about strengthening your leadership skills?  Read the previous post in this series, “Is being the “go-to person” holding you back?” and complete the free leadership self-assessment, which takes about five minutes and gives you a picture of how you stack up on three key components of leadership presence: personal, team and organizational.

This post is adapted from one originally published on SmartBlog on Leadership. For more business leadership news from SmartBrief, sign up for SmartBrief on Leadership.

2 Responses to “3 Tips for Pacing Your Work for Lasting Success”

  1. Many leaders are acting like a hockey goalie. They are busy to defend their goal and don’t have bandwidth to figure out a winning strategy. They might not be able to listen to feedback or adapt to change because they are under emotional stress.

    Energy renewal will restore one’s clarity. Regular practice of energy renewal will enable leaders to engage and energize those around them.

    I love the three tips!

  2. Jon says:

    Scott-Good post. Thanks. It's always worth reminding ourselves to stay in the moment. In effect that's what I took from your piece. I see it too often in meetings. People are multi-tasking while some is trying to make a point. I suppose there are those that can fully comprehend multiple inputs but those people generally have PHD after their name or have 150+ IQ. For the most part, most people don't have that skill set or capability. Leadership is borne out of focus, attention, discipline and assessing a situation effectively and critically. Unless you are focused on "checking yourself" most people will invariably wreck themselves".

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