(originally published April1, 2015)

I had just attended the retirement party for Dave Toycen, CEO, World Vision Canada, back when I first posted this piece.

Dave is an amazing man who, over 28 years with World Vision, had contributed so much to the health and welfare of children around the world.

As expected, he delivered an amazing speech at the end of the event wherein he highlighted all of the people who helped, supported, coached, mentored and guided him along the way.  As well, he took the time to pass on many lessons learned from his time with the organization.

One of those lessons learned hit me as unique among all of the words of wisdom we see for current and future leaders: be aware of your personal limitations.

The health and well-being of our leaders is critical to the success of our organizations. A tall order, yes, and very hard to deliver on for all of us in management or leadership roles.  But at the very least, we want, or demand, that our leaders try to stay in control and make all efforts to stay healthy.

The key? Be aware of your personal limitations. Understand how far out you can go without breaking.  How many hours can you work without melting?  How many miles can you fly per month without expiring?  How many meetings can you attend without falling behind?  Know your limit, work within it.  (I stole that one from a local ad campaign – not about leadership!)

An exhausted, stressed-out, burnt-out, ‘meeting-ed’-out leader is no good to anyone.  Don’t go there.

Once we know our limits, we will be able to track against them and thus be aware of any impending issues.

Some obvious examples:

  • Minimum hours of sleep per week.
  • Minimum down (non-work) time.
  • Minimum exercise time.

Maybe you have other limits you need to track against.  Reading time, travel time, meetings per week?

Define your limits, track against them and stay in control.

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