The Truth About Filling Your Own Cup

Servant leadership is pouring out for the advantage of others. But you can’t serve effectively with an empty cup.

Your cup is empty because you poured out more than you poured in.

The truth about filling your own cup:

#1. Not rest:

Sometimes pouring out is pouring in.

Pouring into your own cup isn’t simply taking time off. If you feel empty, maybe it’s time to engage in meaningful labor.

Meaningful labor has high return on energy ROE. 

If you’re busy and your cup feels empty, you’re doing the wrong work. Rest might help a little, but it’s not the answer. You have a meaningful-work-deficit.

Reflection: What are you doing that adds value to others and has high ROE? Do as much of that as possible. But remember that being responsible also includes doing things you don’t enjoy.

#2. Responsibility vs. energy:

It doesn’t matter that you don’t enjoy tough conversations. Successful leaders bring up tough issues.

Focus on purpose when doing things that drain you.

Why are you having tough conversations? Perhaps you want to help an employee reach higher or you’re working to improve production.

Honor the value you bring (purpose) even when the work doesn’t feel good.

#3. Development and enablement:

Pour into your own cup by developing skills that enhance your ability to serve.

Self-development fills your cup.

  1. What leadership behavior might you develop today?
  2. What recurring frustration can you trace back to something you need to change about yourself?
  3. What self-limiting behavior or attitude needs to go?
  4. How might you clarify your inner drivers and apply them to work?

Pour into your own cup by learning to serve better.

Bonus: Explore impact and results.

Where are you having the biggest impact and delivering the best results? How might you do more of that in new areas?

What drains leaders?

How might leaders realistically fill their own cups in a frantic turbulent world?