How long can you hold your breath? Go ahead and try. I’ll wait.
The average is 30 – 40 seconds.
Whether you tried or not, you can feel it can’t you?
That burning in your chest as your body has consumed the oxygen in your lungs and replaced it with carbon dioxide?
Just thinking about holding your breath makes you recall those times when you were underwater with heart pounding and feet kicking as you raced for the surface which seemed so far above you.
Then when you burst through surface gasping for that rush of delicious life-giving breath. Nothing ever tasted or felt so good!
None of us spend our days literally holding our breath for long periods of time. Unless your Guinness Book of World Records holder, Aleix Segura Vendrell of Barcelona, Spain, who held his breath on 28 February 2016 for 24 min 3.45 seconds!
While you don’t make a habit of running around holding your actual breath when it comes to replenishing your internal “leadership lungs” you may be running out of oxygen.
Are You Holding Your Leadership Breath?
Like your body needs oxygen to function, so do your Leadership Lungs.
When you start “pushing through” as a leader and start denying your body sleep so you can get through the busy season, or nutrition so you can finish that big project, you are holding your Leadership Breath.
You are deliberately holding your breath because you are “too busy” and you “don’t have the time”. Meanwhile, you are turning blue with fatigue, stress, and poor performance.
You start running the risk of injury from drowsy driving, weight gain, irritability, and susceptibility to illness.
Your body, soul, and spirit need regular replenishment. Especially for the A-type driven leader who believes they will “sleep when I’m dead” and “die with my boots on”.
It’s time you take a breath and replenish your Leadership Lungs.
How To Replenish Your Leadership Lungs
In their best-selling book, The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz make the point that “breath holders” so desperately need to hear…
It is the managing of Energy, Not Time, which is the key to high performance.
From the authors’ research, they developed a “sprint and pause” approach to training.
They then convinced a group of World-Class Olympic sprinters to trust their counter-intuitive approach to train. Working with them to build stamina by running and then taking timed rests between sprints.
What happened over time was mind-blowing. The athletes not only gained endurance they actually ran faster!
In the very same way, you can integrate a “sprint and breath” approach to Leadership.
By taking disciplined “Leadership Breaths” throughout the day you can gain more stamina and find yourself more engaged in your work, play, and relationships.
The authors outlined four domains of your life you should be replenishing.
- Physical Domain – Sleep, nutrition, and those activities which nurture health in our bodies.
- Intellectual Domain – Practices that cultivate robust mental health, stimulate thinking, insight, and wisdom.
- Emotional Domain – Practices which encourage deeper awareness, engagement, and resiliency.
- Spiritual Domain – Those things which grow a deeper sense of you, resonate with your core values and strengthen your beliefs.
So I encourage you to take a quick minute and identify four Leadership Breaths you can take that will replenish your Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual Domains.
They can be almost anything and as unique as your fingerprints. Quiet solitude or vigorous activity? A good book or an invigorating swim? Time with your significant other? A relaxing hobby?
It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it gives you life, energy, rest… and replenishes your lungs.