AS OWNER OR LEADER, YOU are one of the key assets of the business. Your employees are wonderful, I understand, but without leadership it will all fall apart.

Yet it seems we’re the last one to get taken care of.

I admire leaders who recognize what it takes to sustain their own focus, energy, and inspiration. Without doing that, you can’t pass it off to your people.

It’s not about being self-centered at the expense of others. It’s about being self-nurturing so you can SERVE others.

OK, maybe “nurturing” might strike you as a little too fluffy. That’s why I usually use the word “sustaining.” It’s the same thing.

You want your business to last a long time, right? Sure, there’s going to be intense times and periods of stress. Sometimes predictable, sometimes not.

But over the long term you have to create times of relatively low stress and recuperation, where you can actually be a Whole Person and have a Balanced Life. Otherwise, one of these days your doctor might tell you that your business stress is killing you.

It happens. Too often.

What does personal sustainability look like? It’s different for each person. But look around for the people, things and activities which give you joy and a positive attitude. Your spouse. The kids’ activities. The beach. Sitting in front of the fire with a good book. Those once-in-a-lifetime trips.

Don’t let the guilt of feeling selfish get in your way. Because there’s selfish at the EXPENSE of others, and there’s selfish to help you SERVE others.

I was working with a client who runs a 7-day-a-week shop, and they were starting to get stressed by never having a day off. Employees were new and needed some oversight, and there always seemed to be important work to be done.

So we did an experiment: Take a day off. Don’t go in to work, but instead stick around the house, take the dogs out for a walk, connect with friends. Sure, let your folks know in advance and give them your cell phone number just in case.

Guess what? The employees appreciated the increased level of trust. There were a couple of phone calls, but those just took a few minutes. Otherwise … joy!

And now we’re moving to a couple of days off each week. Most of the time; it’s not perfect. But it’s absolutely the right direction.

What works for you?