I know that we often promote Thoughtful Leadership skills and practices that others may not necessarily see as essential to leadership – like self-compassion. I’m here to argue that not only is self-compassion an essential Thoughtful Leadership practice, it is the essential Thoughtful Leadership practice. Especially now.

Life, and leadership, is hard right now. As human beings, we are rattled and triggered into our reptilian fight, flight or freeze response when our Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, or Fairness are threatened. (Read SCARF: a brain-based model for collaborating with and influencing others.) I would venture to say that all of us have many, if not all, of those human needs threatened right now.

The most certain way I’ve found to ease anxiety and the fight, flight, or freeze response is self-compassion.

I’ve quoted Tara Brach before, and I’ve suggested her recommended practice to ease ourselves when there’s too much going on (aka now) – to put your hand on your heart, take a deep breath, and say to yourself (or out loud), “It’s okay, sweetheart. It’s okay.”

In other words, to offer ourselves self-compassion.

When we treat ourselves more compassionately, we calm our nerves and our body, which allows us to think more carefully and strategically and to navigate tough conversations, situations, and people more effectively. In other words, it allows us to be more Thoughtful – present, intentional, and authentic.

So, what does self-compassion look like? It’s actually a very personal thing – what soothes one person may not soothe another. That said, here is a beginning list of ways to practice self-compassion. (Please ping us with yours, to add to this list):

  • Place hand on the heart, a la Tara Brach
  • Practice mindfulness and/or meditation
  • Eat mindfully and healthfully
  • Move your body
  • Become more tolerant of your shortcomings and mistakes
  • Give yourself encouragement, like you would a good friend

By treating ourselves with compassion, we strengthen ourselves to live – and Thoughtfully lead. We build a solid base that all of our other Thoughtful Leadership practices and mindsets can rest upon.

I was interviewed last week by Joseph Jaffe for CoronaTV, his daily streaming show about “hope, positivity, and optimism…and if there’s time left over, a little bit of marketing.” We talked a great deal about self-compassion. In the course of the interview, Jaffe offered this thought: “Self-love is the ultimate and most beautiful act of good selfishness.”

I don’t think I could have said it better.

How do you practice self-compassion and how has it helped you?
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If you enjoyed this post, you can read more like it in our book, The Power of Thoughtful Leadership: 101 Minutes To Being the Leader You Want To Be, available on Amazon.

For support in building more compassion for yourself and others, contact Lisa at lkohn@chatsworthconsulting.com.

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