I talk with so many leaders and professionals every day. And to a person, they are all striving to do good work. They are striving to achieve their goals, to please their boss or their client, to take care of their team, to grow and to become something more. And while all these committed people are unique, I find myself contemplating the energy they share. I experience their energy of striving, of wanting, of working so very hard, and often, of not feeling enough.
I’m not really a big fan of Valentine’s Day in the romantic sense, but I must admit, I’m a big fan of love – all kinds of love, including self-love. And lately I find myself quoting the age old Zen quote to many of the people I encounter:
“You cannot serve from an empty vessel.”
Whether I’m speaking with leaders in the humanitarian sector, HR professionals trying to meet the vast needs in their organizations, or coaches who are so passionately committed to helping their often embattled clients, I see people who invest so much energy in the care of others. However I also see these same people spending less and less energy on their own care and well being.
Many who lead, who coach, and who provide support have deeply embedded values about being of service to others. What a beautiful set of values this is. However, without self-care our ability to do our work at our best becomes increasingly limited. We become tired, overwhelmed, discouraged and stuck.
The remedy for this need not be complex or illusive. Self-care is good sleep, nourishment, exercise, time for contemplation, time in nature, and filling our minds and hearts with experiences that both ground us and lift our spirits.
The world needs our good work. The world needs our commitment to the growth and well-being of others. So this Valentine’s Day my wish for all of us is to extend love to ourselves and to commit to regular self-care so that we may all serve from very full vessels.