Back in 2000, I decided to dive wholeheartedly into the Atkins low carb diet. Having survived the dangers of Y2K, I figured it was a good time to make a few lifestyle adjustments — just in case the programming was off by one year and the real surprise came on December 31, 2000.
For six months during 2000 I not only went low carb but I also eliminated all processed sugar from my diet. Since I didn’t consider myself to have a big sweet tooth, it wasn’t all that hard.
I’ll never forget the day a coworker brought a box of Otis Spunkmeyer cookies to the office. I thought, “I haven’t had a cookie in six months. I can have one cookie.” (I actually did have this very thought). Within seconds of having my first bite, I felt my face get really hot and it felt like my body temperature had shot up ten to twenty degrees.
I was amazed. It’s likely sugar had always effected me this way but I had never noticed — because I was consuming a constant intake of sugar.
Likewise, any parent has seen firsthand the reality of a “sugar high.” Kids bouncing off the walls. Seemingly inexhaustible energy. Constant motion. Constant noise. They leave you feeling frazzled and frustrated. Not to be overly dramatic, but it’s a mild form of domestic terrorism.
Many adults live on constant sugar highs, but not of the dietary variety. They live frenetic lives, racing from here to there and back to here. Constant motion. Constant noise. We are forever connected to our social networks, alerts popping up all the time.
We crowd our schedules with alerts, text message, meetings, sound bytes, appointments, and more — and eventually all of these things crowd out what we need most: time for rest and reflection.
Leaders must be intentional about mitigating the sugar high. Truth be told, most good leaders are also adrenaline junkies and often look down on the thought of “down time.” To rest and reflect doesn’t feel like you’re doing anything! But you really are. In fact, you might be doing the really important work of leadership.
Weening yourself off the sugar high may take you through withdrawals. You might have to unlearn some bad habits and learn better ones.
The benefit to yourself and your team will be worth the effort.