By Julian Hayes II
CREDIT: Getty Images
Being a high performing leader means putting your oxygen mask on first.
Leadership comes with an array of perks and recognition. Embracing a role as a leader entails that you’re going to make an impact on a number of people. However, leadership isn’t without its drawbacks that often times crushes someone.
With leadership comes added stress, pressure, and responsibilities, But, there is one habit that rises above all and serves as the biggest threat to a leaders success. This habit is the myth of martyrdom. If you buy into this myth, you will be crushed by your own success.
As Kevin Lawrence described in his book Your Oxygen Mask First , the myth of martyrdom is the belief that you don’t have enough time to do the things you want to do:
You believe there is literally no time in your life to take proper care of yourself, to indulge in activities that are just for you, and you alone. You believe as a leader, a spouse, a parent, a community organizer–whatever combination of roles you play–that these roles far outweigh your own personal needs. The myth of martyrdom is the dark lie that makes leaders feel guilty for having human needs.
If you’re starting to feel lethargic and dragged down by your business, avoid leadership martyrdom by committing to these two habits.
1. Stop being the chief problem solver.
If you’re bombarded with questions each day from your team requesting your opinion, asked the same questions repeatedly, involved in numerous small decisions, and regularly get stuck dealing with other people’s issues–then you’ve created a dependency.
As Lawrence describes in the book: “Your ego loves to answer questions and solve problems, but you’re doing yourself and your team a major disservice if this is how you spend your days.”
Handling a plethora of these minor and daily issues eventually takes its toll on your long-term well being. To get your team acting more independently, treat them like entrepreneurs.
To improve the chances of your team buying into this new philosophy, share your companies vision along with what you envision they become throughout the process.
Lastly, “require them to make 90 percent of the decisions on their own”, which Lawrence recommended.
2. Build a team of experts.
High performers like LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant, Richard Branson, and many others aren’t succeeding alone. In fact, they have a team of advisors who are contributing to their mission.
If you’re like me, you probably grew up and were conditioned that asking for help was a sign of weakness and lack of ability. However, as I learned, this type of mindset only stunts your growth and further extends the timeline from you getting what you actually want.
When it comes to “quadrupling your IQ” and building your team of experts, Lawrence recommends to “have a team of 24 amazing experts literally a text away.”
A few of those he recommended were a lawyer, accountant, business coach, psychologist, personal trainer, and a travel agent.
As you’re crafting your team of experts, start by assessing who’s currently on the team and then identify the gaps in knowledge. Instead of potentially feeling overwhelmed, you now have a more precise plan of action on who to add next to your team.
When it comes to thinking and performing better as a leader, put your oxygen mask on first. You can’t save everyone else until your needs are taken care of.
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