The Importance of Sustainability


"If you are not taking care of your sustainability, then you are 'full of it.'"
~ Laura Whitworth

The issue of sustainability and self care has come up many, many times recently.

"Sustainability" is defined in the American Heritage Dictionary as: "To keep in existence; to maintain. To supply with necessities or nourishment. To keep from falling or sinking. To support the spirits or resolution of."

The topic of sustainability always comes up in my work with individuals. How do we keep the work/life balance? How do we be sure to take care of ourselves first? I'm sure you know the metaphor that is used in the conversation around work/life balance. It's like the oxygen mask on an airplane. You are told to put it on yourself first and then take care of those around you. Without the mask to provide you oxygen, you are no good to those around you.

Here's what I know about avoiding self-care and sustainability:

  • Sometimes avoidance of sustainability is ego based. If I do so much at the sacrifice of my sustainability, people will say "Isn't she amazing? How does she find the time to do it all?" I can do it all while sacrificing my self-care for the acknowledgement I receive.
  • Sometimes avoidance of sustainability is really about avoidance of something else…something bigger. If I don't take good care of me, I can use it as an excuse for why I'm not doing what I really need to be doing. It becomes a comfort zone.
  • At times I believe worth is measure by what we 'do' and not who we are being. When this happens, the first thing to go is our self care so we can 'do' more and more.
  • There are those times that saying "No" is something we cannot do and choose not to do because we don't want to appear as uncooperative or not helpful.

As leaders it is a 'no kidding around' responsibility that we have to take care of ourselves before we take care of those around us...before we can serve others.

There's only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving, and that's your own self. So you have to begin there, not outside, not on other people. That comes afterward, when you've worked on your own corner.
~ Aldous Huxley


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