July 20, 2011
The Weight of the Job by Roger North
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a golfer now. Yeah, she’s a Stanford professor and a best selling author in waiting. But I am most interested in her conversion to golf. She has a history as an achiever, including as an accomplished pianist and tennis player, so naturally she is turning to the hardest sport of all.
A recent issue of Golf Digest featured an interview with the former Secretary. One of her many thoughtful responses really grabbed my attention. She was asked if she would ever tee it up with President Obama, himself an avid golfer. Her response? “Oh sure, absolutely. I know what it’s like for him. People have absolutely no idea how pressurized those jobs are. You never, ever feel any release from it. You get up in the morning feeling the weight of the job, and you go to bed at night feeling the weight of the job.”
Wow! What a terrific description of what it feels like to be a leader. I identified with Secretary Rice’s comment about the pressure of being a leader. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve never held the future of the free world in my hands. But I function most of the time as a leader. I’ve felt the weight of those responsibilities as I’ve gone to bed at night and as I’ve awakened in the morning. You’re familiar with that feeling, aren’t you?
Secretary Rice goes on to say: “I remember so well, a few days after I’d left government, waking up and thinking, what’s that? Oh, it’s the absence of pressure! So, anything President Obama can do, whether it is shooting hoops or going out and hitting golf balls, I hope he does it.”
What about you? How do you take care of yourself? How do you relieve the pressures of leadership? I would go as far as to say that you owe it to those you lead to find ways to get away from the pressures of leadership. Why? Because leaders need to lead from a place of wholeness. A place where they can consistently place the interests of their organizations, employees and clients ahead of their own. It takes a whole person to do that consistently well. To take care of others, you must take care of yourself.
Me? I’m trying to get Secretary Rice on the phone to see if she can make a 1:00 tee time on Friday.
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