I used to speak at least twice every week when I was pastor of a large church. Sometimes up to 5 times in a week. In those days I was busy all the time. Speaking and preparing to speak was part of my weekly activities. I remember being on a high at the end of a Sunday after speaking twice or three times to hundreds of people. It would take me a while to wind down after the evening services. I learned not to schedule important activity on Monday mornings because I was much slower to get going. In the early days I used to have Mondays as my day off but changed that to Fridays after a few years when I realised how lacking in energy I was on Mondays. It was difficult to do anything that was replenishing or fun after a big Sunday. But back in those days I was not very self-aware of my body or my emotional well-being.
15 years later …. Some reflections on how I managed the emotional load of two significant events last week.
In the past week I have had the privilege of speaking at two very different events. One was a BNI National Conference in Perth. The other was my wonderful Aunty Bev’s funeral service in Sydney.
The Perth event involved significant travel and organising my schedule to take 3 days out. The 2-hour time difference meant I did not get much sleep the night before the Conference. I attended a dinner on the night I arrived, and then Conference sessions all day until it was my turn to speak at 3:15pm. I went for a walk at lunch time and made sure I was clear headed and relaxed to deliver my keynote on ‘Becoming MORE’. It went very well, and the feedback was great from delegates. It was very encouraging to see that my message connected well. I went out to dinner with a few people that night, but the next morning made sure I rested well until my late check-out and return trip to the airport and back across this great continent.
While in Perth I received the news that my Aunty Bev had passed away. The next day I had a call from my uncle asking if I would lead a special family gathering before the main public funeral service. I was honoured to be asked. He told me he was asking a former much-loved pastor to lead the main service. Two days later I received another call asking me to lead the main service and to bring a message to those gathered. They had learned their former paster had also passed away the day after my aunt.
I already had a busy week planned after 3 days out in Perth. Now I had to find time to see my uncle and my cousin one night during the week to prepare for the funeral. It takes over an hour to drive to their place from mine. I took some time and adjusted my plans for the busy week ahead and made sure that the day after the funeral was a light load based at my home office.
Factoring in the emotional load
Leading and speaking at my aunt’s funeral involved a whole different set of emotions than speaking at a business conference. She was a wonderful and much-loved lady. A very caring and beautiful person in my life. I had my own emotions to process as well as thinking about how to lead several hundred people as they celebrated her life and mourned her death.
I prepared well the day before the funeral and had a good plan for how it all would play out. I made sure I was in bed by 10pm and managed 8 hours good sleep. I had energy for the day and felt very comfortable leading both gatherings. Our family is a wonderful group of people and funerals seem to bring out the best in us. Both services flowed very well. The whole day was a celebration of a life well lived. The short message I brought was very well received.
When we returned home that afternoon, I noticed that I was energised by the experience and did not feel tired until the next morning. This was very similar to my days when I was a pastor. I had some difficulty winding down that night, but finally got to sleep. The next morning, I was very tired. I am glad I had planned a slower day after the funeral.
5 lessons I’ve learned about monitoring and managing my emotional load:
- You need to know yourself well – over the years I have learned to listen to my body and understand my emotional signals. These things were a mystery to me until I was about 45 and worked with a mentor who helped me to monitor my emotions. I slowly learned to listen and to understand.
- It takes a lifetime to learn and relearn these lessons. It involves continual monitoring and adjusting through the seasons of life. There is a difference between being physically tired and emotionally drained.
- There are consequences when you ignore or override the warning signals of your physical and emotional gauges. If you are near empty, you need to know how to read and respond to that. You need to factor it in to your plans. Otherwise, you can hurt yourself and those you love.
- You need to learn what refreshes you physically – usually sleep and physical exercise of some kind. These activities also release stress and are helpful to emotional wellbeing.
- You need to know what replenishes you emotionally – The emotional tank is best filled by disengaging from work and doing things which replenish you. Busy people need to find things they can do regularly (not just wait for holidays). For me, walking and playing with my dog is replenishing, as is a whole range of things I do – time in my garden, reading novels, or playing and watching sport, connecting with my wife over a coffee or a meal or a movie. Time with my grandchildren and children is always fun. That’s why I always say that my work serves my life.
How are you going as you manage the emotional load of your weekly schedule?
In my book, INTEGRATE (2016), I write about how to map and manage your energy so that you are always ready for those high impact times in business and life. My mentoring clients have found this approach very helpful enabling them to have clearer heads at work and more energy for the rest of their life.
If you would like to have a free 30-minute phone or video call to discuss your situation, please book a call with me here. I am happy to invest 30 minutes with you to understand your situation and help you towards some effective next steps.
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