Countdown to Compassion and Self-Care

In February, we hosted a #LeaderShapeChat with the theme “to lead, live compassionately.” Members of the LeaderShape community shared some insightful thoughts about what it means to listen compassionately, how to foster compassion in others, and some tools, behaviours, and resources that act as reminders to be compassionate.

Let’s continue this conversation.

Now more than ever, if we want to create a just, caring and thriving world, we need to practice empathy, active listening, and kindness. Effective leadership takes place in the context of community…and perhaps the same thing can be said about compassion. Compassion creates a community that is stronger than anything – conflict, fear, hate – that tries to divide it.

Let’s reflect on what it means to serve through a compassionate lens. Many struggle with balancing servant leadership with self-compassion. But the truth is, the two concepts are not mutually exclusive. One of the ways we serve ourselves is through self-care – and there is nothing selfish about it.

To lead, look after your physical and mental well-being. To lead, remind your friends, family, colleagues, and teammates to make self-care a priority. To lead, listen. To lead, have the courage to be vulnerable and open up when you may be struggling and need support. As Simon Sinek said, “A leader, first and foremost, is human. Only when we have the strength to show our vulnerability can we truly lead.”

Ready to lead and live compassionately? Below, we have a “countdown” list to kick-start your commitment! This list features some bookmark-worthy articles, videos, and lessons from LeaderShapers!

Kick-start Your Commitment To Compassion and Self-Care

FIVE –  5 Self Care Tips for Activists 

“So if you’re the activist, organizer, or community member who tends to do social justice work all day, every day, but is also exhausted all the time (and potentially unhealthy), this one’s for you.”

FOUR – 4 LeaderShapers share some lessons they have learned about compassion:

“Despite the risks involved, I still hold that employing compassion is central to high-quality leadership. “Lofty” endeavors can be realized when people sense genuine compassion from leaders and facilitators.” – Suzie Day

“One of the greatest lessons I’ve ever learned is that you must care for yourself before you can help others. Self-care takes effort, it’s hard to put yourself first. However, I find that I am a much stronger leader when I am taking care of myself. Helping others is the icing on the cake for me. I know that when I help others, I am making a positive change in the world.” – Erica Henkin

“I’ve learned that as leaders, we tend to care for others before ourselves. It seems like the right thing to do as leaders. But, when we practice self-care we enable ourselves to do more for others. We feel refreshed, rejuvenated and ready to care for others. It’s critical to practice self-care and to display that self-care for other people in our lives. Leaders lead busy lives and though it is tough at times, we must take care of ourselves to better serve others.” – Blake Shepheard

“I used to find ways to escape life as I thought that was “self care.” It wasn’t until I began taking care of myself from inside out that I began to truly understand that taking care of myself isn’t about escaping life, but to embrace and celebrate all that is part of my life. Similarly, taking care of others in my life is a choice I make every day. I decide to what extent and whose measures (mine).” – Saba Rafiq

THREE –  3 Things You Should Know About Intersectionality and Self-Care

“It’s a great gift that balance, healthy lifestyles, and stress management are becoming common imperatives, rather than written off as selfish, unnecessary, or unproductive. But, does everyone have equal access to the tenets and practices of self-care? And, is the way we define self-care inclusive of all people — those with diverse backgrounds, experiences, and identities?

TWO – Two TEDx Talks

  1. “The balancing act of compassion” – Jackie Tabnick

“You have to, of course, be aware of the needs of others, but you have to be aware in such a way that you can carry on with your life and be of help to people. So part of compassion has to be an understanding of what makes people tick. And, of course, you can’t do that unless you understand yourself a bit more.”

2. “A self-care revolution” – Megan McCormick (a LeaderShaper!)

“If you’ve ever been on a plane this is in your seatback pocket and it’s a woman using oxygen mask before she goes the child next to her. When I was younger, I saw this picture and I said “Why isn’t she helping the child first? He’s in need.” As I got older, I realized that the oxygen mask is a lot like self-care – we all have parents, friends, family members that we want to be empathetic towards. But if we don’t take care of ourselves, if we don’t put on the oxygen mask first, we don’t have the capacity to help those people that we care so much about.”


ONE – One quote to leave with you…

Lanterns float upwards into a dark sky

An empty lantern provides no light. Self-care is the fuel that allows it to shine vibrantly, lighting the way for others.” –Project Happiness

If you’re ready to be a more compassionate leader, let us know an act of self care that you will commit to practicing in the comments below!

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