An essential element of leadership – YOU!

How do you take care of yourself? I often ask students this question, and as we get ready to enter the hectic whirlwind of the end of another semester. I find this question coming up more often. During a recent conversation with a student running for an important campus position, I was concerned that although she was smiling and upbeat, she also looked more tired than normal. I asked how she was doing, and how she was taking care of herself during this hectic time. She shared that with all of the expectations of current leadership responsibilities, her classes and family, she did not have much time for herself. I asked her to promise that in the coming weekend she would take at least an hour or two to do something for HER (even if it was just watching an irreverent movie or reading a magazine). It was a pleasant surprise when she shared the next week that she had done just that!

As student leaders, you’re faced with so many responsibilities: family, class, work, leadership positions, other campus activities, church or spiritual aims, volunteering – the list could truly be endless. With only 168 hours in a week, and a need to get some sleep – how do you ensure that you’re taking care of the one who keeps things going (YOU)? When I started my career, I was a true workaholic, and after moving to Texas I started to think about this idea of balance. My balance comes from volunteer work that matters to me and finding one (some would call silly) hobby that forces me to get away from responsibility (I play pool on a couple of teams). I’m not very good, but a couple of times a week I get to spend time with great people, get away from responsibility (other than trying to win my match) and most importantly – I GET TO LAUGH!

There is a great model called a Wheel of Life that might be helpful. Tiffany Lehman, M.S. (, explains “Visual maps such as the Life Balance Wheel are excellent tools used to begin the process of reaching goals and transforming your life.
Take a few minutes and assess your life. Rank each life area by drawing an arc at the number that represents your level of satisfaction. The center of the wheel is 0 and equals zero satisfaction, the outer edge of the wheel is 10 representing total satisfaction.” Take a minute to think about where you fit in this, and what you can do to create better balance. Who will help you in your quest and how will you know that you’re successful? It takes 21 days to establish a habit – so just don’t give up! Remember: if you’re not taking care of yourself as a leader, you’re perhaps not being the best leader that you can be!

Dr. Carol Clyde
Director, Leadership and Community Involvement

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