Leadership and “Coasting”

Coasting - 1Is it ever OK to just coast along for a while?

That is the question that I am pondering this morning.  You see, I am tired.  I am probably not near as tired as some of you.  But I am still tired.

I am thinking right now of a young man who is probably the hardest working guy that I know.  He is up very early every morning and heads out the door long before the sun is even thinking of rising.  I am thinking of a single mom who is doing a great job with a couple of very “energetic” children.

I can only imagine how tired they must be.

I have just finished a very busy phase of a major project that I am working on.  I have a very busy and hectic schedule for the next few weeks.  And then I will have some down time between projects.  But right now, all I want to do is stop peddling and coast for a while.

Do you ever feel that way?  Is ”coasting” ever an option for leaders?  Is it ever acceptable to just to just put things on autopilot and let things run on their own for a while?  If so, how long is an acceptable time to coast?

Coasting - 2Here are my thoughts.

It is physically impossible to be a hard charger every moment of every day.  As leaders we must have some down time.  Perhaps this is the strongest argument for developing young leaders around us.  If we have other leaders around us, we can turn things over to them on a short-term basis while we take a little mental break.  The alternative is not very attractive.  I have seen so many who simply “burn out” and become useless to those that they are called to lead.

So, as leaders, what are we to do?  I don’t make direct Biblical applications to leadership principles very often.  But this one is so obvious it would be silly not to express it.  God himself ordained the Sabbath for rest.  That is “coasting” at its best.  Six days there is to be work.  But on the Sabbath there is to be coasting.

I will leave it up to you to determine what coasting looks like in your life and in your circumstance.  For me it has become reading and having some quiet conversation with my wife.

I am looking for the next time that I can coast.  I think it is overdue.

Photo credit: North Dakota National Guard / Foter / (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
Photo credit: Zach Dischner / Foter / (CC BY 2.0)
Photo credit: North Dakota National Guard / Foter / (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

3 Replies to “Leadership and “Coasting””

  1. Kevin – I recall a point made in the “Corporate Athlete” training in which you and I each participated a few years ago. They explained that the effectiveness of exercise is in the proper combination of stress and rest. In the case of physical exercise, the stress is the resistance to the muscle, and the rest comes through either a day off from exercising or in balanced cross training with weights one day and cardio the next, etc. However, the instructors further applied this to mental health. Stress is actually necessary for growth, and we only improve by putting ourselves in stressful/challenging circumstances. However, constant stress without a time of recuperation is illustrated by a spring that is compressed for such a long period of time that, when it is released, it does not spring back to its full length. Obviously tolerance for physical and mental stress varies by individual, but leaders who are constantly lifting mental weights without a rest will eventually lose their effectiveness rather than improving or even maintaining it.

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