Living with Resilience: Self-Leadership

Monkey status see, hear, speak no evil

Before I gave a webinar to nurse residents last month on work-life balance, I asked them about their biggest challenges. They all shared a similar theme: the ability to leave work at work, without agonizing about what they didn’t know, get done, or anticipate. They want what we all want, to feel good about ourselves and what we do at work and home. Most of us have unrealistic high expectations of ourselves and could benefit from practicing less self-criticism and more self-leadership.

Self-leadership is the relationship you have with yourself. It is how you talk to, prioritize, and treat yourself, especially in times of challenge and stress. It goes a little deeper than self-care because when we take full responsibility for the decisions we make to honor our bodies, energy, and time, we are empowered to lead ourselves.

Self-leadership requires our own personal self-compassion, patience, and forgiveness because of the negative head talk we practice by blaming, berating, and shoulding on ourselves when things don’t go as we expected. When we can recognize it, we can shift our energy and perspective of negative head talk with a simple yet powerful positive heart practice.

Positive Heart Practice

Settle into your space with both feet grounded on the floor, sit up tall and close your eyes. Place your left hand over your heart, place your right hand over your left, and focus your breathing right into the heart space you are holding. Notice your breathing getting slower and deeper. Take 3 more breaths into your heart space and repeat these words:

I am doing the best I can.
Even though I feel overwhelmed…
I am doing the best I can.
Even though I don’t know everything…
I am doing the best I can.
Even though this is hard…
I am doing the best I can.
I am doing the best I can.

Whether you are a new nurse on the front lines, working at home, or not working at all, the stress of this pandemic is felt by all of us and magnifies the importance of self-leadership. The most effective and fulfilled people I know practice self-leadership by nurturing themselves every day. What decisions can you make today to remember you are doing the best you can?


  1. Andrea Bedard on August 5, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    It’s like you wrote this message just for me today…you have no idea how much I appreciate having this perspective renewed. I am doing the best I can and that place where I’m at is a good and positive place. I will continue to be challenged but the beauty is I will learn and grow through those opportunities. I’m not there yet, I don’t have all the answers, I don’t know everything, It isn’t easy, but I am doing the best I can from where I’m at today. Thank you for what you do and thank you for reminding me I’ll be ok.

    • Diane Sieg on August 10, 2020 at 8:37 pm

      Hi Andrea,
      I’m so happy to hear this post resonated with you! A good reminder for ALL of us to remember we are dong the best we can. You will be ok!

  2. Leona I on August 5, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Self Leadership? Different way to approach an age-old problem? or has it been there all along? Not to matter as however we treat ourselves is a form of leadership whether weak or strong? Something to think about and work on – thanks.

    • Diane Sieg on August 10, 2020 at 8:35 pm

      Thank you for your wisdom,Leona!

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