Let’s End The Fight Between Productivity And Well-Being

We can’t keep ignoring it. Work is killing us.

We’ve seen headlines about the “Great Resignation” and quietly quitting for a few years now. They are fueled by anecdotal experiences and surveys, like research from McKinsey in 2022 that found 40% of people surveyed in six countries were unhappy at workand were considering leaving their job in the near future.

Might not seem like a big deal but it is. Happiness can impact our health.

It’s not just happening with our team members. This article from Fast Company was startling: more CEOs passed away on the job last year than ever before, alongside a staggering statistic that over 1,900 CEOs in the U.S. stepped down voluntarily, marking the highest turnover since 2002.

This data is not just a wake-up call; it’s a siren blaring for us to reassess our approach to leadership, productivity, and, most importantly, our well-being.

We’re caught in the tension between hard work and well-being. It has us walking a tightrope, teetering between the fear of being perceived as either uncommitted or overly indulgent. This binary thinking has kept many of us in a scarcity mindset, haunted by the ghosts of “never enough”: time, resources, and achievements. But what if I told you there’s a way off this precarious path?

It’s possible to be both productive and to nurture a state of well-being that keeps us connected, healthy, and vibrant. The key lies not in the endless pursuit of more hours in the day but in creating intentional moments of pause to listen to what our bodies are telling us.

Our bodies are the best source of feedback we have. They hold the wisdom of our experiences, emotions, and the truths we often ignore. As Resmaa Menakem insightfully points out in My Grandmother’s Hands,

our bodies are the epicenter of pain, pleasure, joy, healing, resilience, and the elusive state of flow. They communicate through subtle cues—a tension here, a shallow breath there—waiting patiently for us to tune in.

So, how do we make this shift from a high-stakes game of productivity poker to a more holistic approach to well-being in our leadership? It starts with a simple yet profound daily practice: checking in with our bodies. This isn’t about adding another cumbersome task to your to-do list but integrating moments of mindfulness into your day to reconnect with your physical and emotional state. By doing so, we can begin to work with our nervous system rather than against it, unlocking a more sustainable balance between doing and being.

I can attest to the transformative power of this practice. It’s not just about surviving in a high-pressure role; it’s about thriving in it, with a sense of purpose, joy, and connection.

Here are a few questions to get you started:

  1. When was the last time you checked in with your body during a busy day? Why or why not? What did you notice?
  2. How can integrating moments of mindfulness into your daily routine support your alter your perception of productivity and well-being?
  3. What is one small step you can take today to begin this practice of body mindfulness and move towards a more balanced approach to leadership?

 

Try setting an alarm for a consistent time each day—maybe just before lunch—to check in and see how your body is feeling or what it might need. Water? Deep breaths to calm a racing heart? Stillness to create clarity for a difficult conversation ahead? Your body will tell you what you need.

If you try this well-being check in and find it helpful, consider sharing it with your team. Leadership is not just about steering the ship but also about ensuring that both you and your crew are well-nourished for the journey ahead.

Let’s create a future where productivity and well-being are not at odds but in harmony.

Picture of Carolyn Swora

Carolyn Swora

Carolyn is a leadership consultant, team coach, certified Dare To Lead™ facilitator, and two-time bestselling author. Her most recent book, Evolve: The Path to Trauma-Informed Leadership, brings new focus to an often ignored, yet critical leadership component: the nervous system. In her work with organizations, from phama to non-profits, Carolyn focuses on driving change through leadership focused on compassion and humility.

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