The Leadership Wall

Every once in awhile,

especially in busy seasons of life or ministry,

I hit the wall.

Know what I’m talking about?

I know I’ve hit the wall when:

  • I’ve reached my compliant quota.  When one more complaint, question or criticism will put me over the edge.
  • Questions become personal attacks.  A simple question for clarity feels like a personal attack on my judgment or character.
  • The idea of being with people stresses me out.

I don’t think it’s unusual for leaders to hit the wall.  Leadership is relational.  Leaders are required to speak into many decisions, problems, concerns, etc.  In fact typically leaders deal with the toughest, most emotionally challenging issues within the organization.

But as leaders we have to be aware of when we’re about to hit this wall and we have to take steps to put on the brakes before we crash into it.

When I see the wall closing in on me, I need to:

1) Evaluate my emotional and spiritual health.  Great leaders are healthy leaders.  Don’t convince yourself your superman/woman.  Take time for rest and rejuvenation.  And most importantly take time with God.

2) Rework my schedule.  Where have I over-committed?  What can I change, move or cancel?  What can I delegate to someone else?  Everything on my schedule becomes open for discussion.

3) Stop.  Literally stop for time enough to think.  When the wall is closing in on me and I’m running at a break-neck speed, I can’t think clearly enough to make good decisions.  Make a pit stop and regroup your thoughts.  Fresh perspective often comes with a strategic pause.

4) Seek counsel.  Who knows you well enough to speak truthfully about your strengths and weaknesses, priorities and dysfunctions as a leader?  You need to invite their voice into your current season.  They just might be the emergency brake that saves you from a crash.

How do you buffer yourself from hitting the wall?

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  • Tim Viola August 25, 2011  

    I always try to find a little bit of time each day  to slow down and do something that I enjoy but really isn’t “productive.”  Whether it’s watch a video that makes me laugh on YouTube or an episode of The Office (that’s a sure fire way to make me laugh).  Sometimes it’s even just taking 15 minutes to play a game on my phone or read a chapter of a fiction book.  Taking a few minutes each day to mentally escape really helps me. 

    • Jenni Catron August 25, 2011  

      Tim, that’s so good. The “productive” word is key. It’s difficult for me to feel ok with being unproductive but it’s so essential.

    • jerry white September 14, 2011  

      I like your idea. Trying to relax, enjoy something that’s not work related, watch video. That’s a very good idea to make yourself unstressed. The problem with me is, even thinking about relaxing; I can really hardly do it. I’ve got a lot of work to do, attend to my sidelines and study for my Masters. How stressful.

  • Candace August 25, 2011  

    Gr8 post the subject!

    First, prayer powers & energizes!!

    Second, I heed the advice of great leaders.

    Third, we all know that just powering thru burns out the brain so I learn how the brain works, how to get the best from it, and apply it.

  • Sara August 25, 2011  

    Thanks for the reminder to Stop. I sometimes think “pause” but that’s not always enough. As the fall starts, I’m glad to think ahead and hopefully see the wall approaching. Appreciate your thoughts, Jenni!

  • JennyRain August 29, 2011  

    I so get this. I serve the Sr. Pastor of our Church and the director of operations, so my phone, my email, everything rings off the hook all day long. I have learned – for me – that when I am going around like a crazy person, my to do list is my best friend. I have also learned not to feel guilty that I do not answer every single phone call exactly when it comes in (I know, for an exec asst this is like blasphemy) – however, if I can organize my day into “chunks” – proactive work time, project time, answering calls time, email times – then I am way more effective for everyone.

  • Brian Mayfield August 30, 2011  

    Great post, Jenni! So many of us need to heed this advice so often. Thanks for the reminder!

  • Adam Ranck September 3, 2011  

    You really touched on a part I don’t often take into consideration. Just stopping in the midst of business. And honestly, that may have cross my mind a couple times in the past, but I never would, because whatever I’m doing is “way too important” to stop. Investing and pouring into people is important (this is usually where most of my time goes), but I think the truth is they’ll be ok and you can reschedule a time with them later if you really need to take a break. How can you help someone if you yourself cannot apply the lessons you’re teaching or “modeling”.

    Thanks. Good post Jenni.

  • Anonymous September 8, 2011  

    Thanks for your great advice Jenni. As a businessman
    HVAC, I often get stressed and zour advices could really help. Thanks  

  • bill rogers September 9, 2011  

    That’s what I’ve been actually doing. As a businessman, I usually get stressed with everydays tasks. Sometimes I like tio think; I want to quit, but i can’t. So to counter stress, I relaxed, got to spa, pray.

  • carlos ortega September 14, 2011  

    Time management wasn’t my greatest. I always run into deadlines. But inspite of that I really have to have time for myself, relax, and unstress.

  • Boris Elias September 15, 2011  

    This is my favorite part. ” Take time for rest and rejuvenation.  And most importantly take time with God.” You’re right I shoul probably be having time to rest and pray.

  • don best November 15, 2011  

    Learning from you is such a great honor. I agree on all points. Great leaders are healthy leaders. Have time to rejuvenate and the most important is to pray. 

  • frances melu November 23, 2011  

    I am so stressed with my schedules. I am happy with these advices. Maybe I really need to rework and review my schedules. 

  • zai show November 28, 2011  

    It’s not easy to be
    a leader, especially if known. It’s stressful and the work is demanding but
    nevet forget to take a break. We need to rejuvinate ourselves despite of the
    hectic schedules. 

  • Tom Cruz December 8, 2011  

    It’s not easy to be a leader. A school president is pretty much busier than a President of a country.