I’d like to keep this short today as my beautiful daughters will be taking me out to lunch soon. This is a day we celebrate our mothers. (Duh) I want to also celebrate all of the fierce awesome women who’ve come before me, and will come after me that have inspired me in my life. Thank you! Thank you for fighting for women’s rights, for leading in the workplace, for taking chances, for running for office, for inventing, for writing, for having children and working, for breaking into traditional men’s work, for overcoming so many obstacles in life. Just…thank you.
I’m sure a lot of us think we are hard workers on the job. We also tend to feel guilty about taking our breaks at work, to the point that we might eat at our desks and never leave the workplace. So, is that a good idea? You might think you’re showing your Superman or Supergirl powers at work, but truly, you are doing yourself, your boss, and your customers a disservice.
Here’s why not taking breaks through out the day at work is a bad idea. When you work out at the gym, or play sports, or move your whole household in one day, or work in the yard, don’t you allow yourself a break once in a while? Why? To recharge, of course. Recharge your body, right? Your brain needs recharging too.
RECHARGE: verb; to make a new charge, especially to attack again. To revive or restore energy, stamina, enthusiasm. To refresh and revitalize.
I need my energy restored throughout the day, both physically and mentally. I’ve worked in both types of cultures, where every one takes their breaks, or no one takes breaks. As a supervisor myself, I make sure my immediate reports take their breaks. I’ve seen it too many times when a person plays tough and refuses to take breaks or lunch, then comes back and sues the company. Worse, the work culture frowns upon breaks, so a person feels like they shouldn’t take breaks. Yes, legality is part of it. The real part though, is that I want my employees to come back refreshed and revitalized. (hopefully) Happy employees usually mean happy customers.
I do not agree with workplace cultures where the unspoken rule is not to take breaks. It encourages judgement and gossip against coworkers. In the reverse, taking breaks together when possible can build teamwork and comradeship. Eating at your desk encourages your boss or direct reports to interrupt. Of course, there are sometimes certain circumstances where you might have to push back your breaks or lunch to take care of a crisis.
Not sure what to do during a break? Here’s what I do sometimes. Read a book. Get to know a coworker better. Play a game on my phone. Read the news. Come up with blog ideas. Stretch. Take a short walk outside. Eat a snack to feed my body. Meditate. Practice mindfulness. Check on my kids. Check on my mom. You get the point. The important thing is to take a real timeout from work. I can attest that when I come back from lunch, I’m ready, recharged and revitalized to face the second half of my work day!
This blog was inspired by a post I saw on the social network beBee. The writer was remarking how some people who don’t smile and frown actually have facial expressions stuck that way. It reminded me of a coworker of long ago. She was cranky, grouchy, negative and rarely smiled. Her face was stuck in a permanent frown, even with her resting face. The lines around her mouth were turned down like a perpetual sullen child, forever cracked into her aging skin. I often wondered as I looked at her or listened to her, was it worth it? Worth it to be so negative, glum, sister to Eeyore? Your face is stuck that way!
The funny thing is, she reported to me. I say funny because I don’t have a lot of tolerance for negativity at work. (What’s the point? If you aren’t happy on the job, leave. Don’t infect the rest of us.) The other funny part is while I don’t tolerate constant negativity out in the open, I will listen to negative concerns privately.(As a supervisor, I will listen. As an equal, I don’t like to be involved with gossip and negativity on the job) I also appreciate that negative people can take the Devil’s advocate side, and I like to hear all sides of a solution or procedure before we implement it.
So, ironically, while I’m going on about a negative side of her, let me talk about the positive side. She was incredibly smart, with a dry sense of humor. We actually had a lot of interests in common, certain movies, certain type of humor, a love of books, a love of history, a love of art and a love of travel. Seeing her positives helped me deal with the negativity. As her supervisor, while I often addressed her grouchiness and/or negativity, I also understood that the negativity is who she was. Like the color of her brown eyes, or her freckles, she couldn’t or didn’t want to change that part of her. I couldn’t force her to change, but I could address it when she crossed the line with customers or coworkers. (She had worked at the company for a long time, and no one had documented her behavior. I also inherited her. Everyone would say, oh well, that’s how “Shirley” is. Not me. Either she was going to get it or not.)
I documented every coaching conversation with her. It took awhile, but eventually the conversations and write ups became a thick file. Still, I was always patient and respectful to her. Eventually she figured out that I wasn’t giving in, and she decided to retire.
What’s the big deal about smiling?
- I know I feel better when I smile and really mean it.
- My customers brighten up.
- I hope I cheered up my customer if they need it.
- I know customers can tell when I smile while talking on the phone, so I do it all the time.
- I smile at strangers, a hard thing for me to do. (I don’t want to be seen as a crazy creeper!) But I love the human connection when they smile back.
- I get compliments all the time about my smile. Who doesn’t love a compliment?
- It’s healthy for your brain and emotions.
- It’s an act of kindness.
“Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing.” Mother Teresa
PS-the picture is me and my youngest daughter, smiling because we are so happy to be at a baseball game!
There are so many great leadership examples out there, it’s hard to pick even a few! I narrowed it down to three newer voices in leadership, and three old school voices.
- Robin Sharma
- Dan Rockwell
- Sheryl Sandberg
- Peter Drucker
- John Maxwell
- Jim Collins
Robin Sharma is kind of the new guy on the block for me. Robin is a Canadian author and leadership speaker, formerly a litigation lawyer. One of the things that attracts me to his quotes is a zen type of feel to some of the quotes.
- “Words can inspire, and words can destroy. Choose yours well. ”
- “Your ‘I can’ is more important than your IQ.”
- “Dedicate yourself to expressing your best.”
Dan Rockwell, LeadershipFreak, is one of my all time favorites. He’s to the point, his blogs posts are short and informative, and he’s on top of current issues in the workplace. Dan has had over 35 years of experience as a public speaker, leader, and teacher. I’ve been following him for about 6 years now.
- “Authentic leadership is heart deep, not skin deep.”
- “Great leaders always lift others.”
- “The courage to keep growing is the difference between success and failure.”
Sheryl Sandberg is obviously one of the top voices at Facebook, and in my opinion, a great female leader to emulate. I’m not sure that she even likes the spotlight, but she recognizes that she is a leader who can help teach other female leaders.
- “Leadership is not bullying and leadership is not aggression. Leadership is the expectation that you can use your voice for good. That you can make the world a better place.”
- “Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence.”
These are a few of my favorite work and leadership quotes. Do you have any favorite quotes? I would love to hear them!