All posts tagged: leadership

There’s a difference between rest and reflection. Spoiler alert: You need both.

“Being a leader is not about production; it’s about being there for the people I lead, support, and serve. And I need to prepare myself to be a decent human being so that
I can be there for others and be approachable.”
– Andrew, Clear Harbor member

I have to exist as a human to show up at work. And when I show up as a cog and a machine, I feel the least fulfilled in my life.”
– Shannon, Clear Harbor member

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had many conversations about rest and reflection. We talked about why it’s important and how to fit it into our busy lives. The two quotes I shared above were from those conversations and examples of why we must find time to rest and reflect individually and in groups if we want to show up as leaders in our lives. 

Rest can happen when you reflect, but rest is not always reflection time. Sometimes the reflection piece gets left behind. We hear a lot about self-care and well-being on the topic of rest. But often, reflection is missing.

Leaders, in particular, need both rest and reflection to:

  • keep going,
  • keep leading, 
  • stay in their role (and lane), 
  • not burn out,  
  • make decisions, and 
  • recognize that pauses are necessary. 

Leaders need built-in time to reflect on themselves. The results? You avoid bringing knee-jerk reactions and your own bias to your team. We must reflect internally first before we can show up and lead a reflection with others. Reflection can bring you back to your why and passion and help you feel human. Time for reflection for yourself and then in groups is a critical tool for building a more equitable and inclusive workplace.

“Your goal is not to stick to a given schedule at all costs; it’s instead to maintain, at all times,
a thoughtful say in what you’re doing with your time.”
– Cal Newport, Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World

Most times, teams will retrospect at the end of a project by looking at how things went, what worked, what didn’t work, and what can be improved. But you can do this at any time as a team! Build those moments into groups in the arc of the process with reflection points to pause and observe. 

I build rest and reflection into meetings – we stop, take a breath, take a break, and look away from the screens and each other. We write on our own before we share in the group. These practices are critical when building your team and group processes. 

At times, I work with teams after they’ve missed opportunities to reflect – on the big picture or on cultural dynamics. They always had lots of work to complete but little time to reflect. The good news? It’s never too late to change this. We can find time to reflect. 

You CAN build in time to reflect starting now to avoid big crises and conflicts in the future. When you practice slowing down and reflecting now, you will remember how to do it in the middle of stressful moments and not leap into fast decision-making based on assumptions and stories. When we slow down and recognize our own biases, we change how we do things. That’s one step toward making our work more equitable and inclusive. 

This is one reason I created Clear Harbor for leaders – more here if you’re intrigued.
Clear Harbor is a built-in time for groups of people to reflect outside of the day-to-day pressures to respond.
It’s a commitment on your calendar to other people.
It’s a space to step back and reflect with a more significant viewpoint.

We not only show you it’s possible to build this into your workday, but we show you how.  

I promised you a list of ways to build in time for rest and reflection. You can grab the list here. Remember, this isn’t MY list. These thoughts and ideas are from friends, clients, colleagues, and maybe even from you. Browse the list and see if anything sparks your interest. Try a few of the ideas yourself.

How can you build reflection into your day?

Rheanna SmithThere’s a difference between rest and reflection. Spoiler alert: You need both.
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Staying Awake to Others While Navigating Change

As a leader, the people you work with are the key – to creating and building something beautiful and enjoying the work you’re doing. Without people, without a team, the vision does not move forward. Many leaders I work with are working with people who care deeply and work hard. And they are tired and navigating change after unsettling change.

And, the leaders I work with are navigating personal and professional challenges daily. 

P.S. Everyone I work with is a leader because I follow this definition of leadership.*

It is easy to lose sight of how everyone around you is doing when you have so much to do. 

However, there can be detrimental impacts when you are not staying connected to your team, peers, and humans in your life. When we are not paying attention to those around us – we lose the warmth of human connection, love, and care. We lose the insights and visions offered up by different people who see the world and its opportunities differently than we do. We lose out on the potential to build a strong team or a thoughtful family. When we are not attending to our teams and people, relationships may end. We miss the chance to offer support, and we miss the opportunity to grow and learn.

I’ve had moments in my life and my business where I was feeling so overwhelmed that I did not take the time needed to care about the core people in my life. The memories of those moments cause an ache in my heart and belly. 

I am aware that: 

  • I was not living out my values, and 
  • I need to ensure that I do not get to the point of overwhelm that causes me to cut off connections to others.

I continue to work on this in my life. 

How do I live out my value of being in intentional, meaningful relationships with my partners, clients, community, and family while juggling the work of being a human?

Here is a check-in to help you stay connected to your team, the people you work with, and the people you care about in your personal life.
There are four areas to pay attention to 1. tending, 2. tuning, 3. checking in, and 4. changing.

Download this check-in tool here!

Give yourself a mini-audit. 

In your relationships, how are you tending, tuning in, checking in, and changing?

What is ONE thing you can do in ONE of the areas with a teammate or loved one?

No one person can do it all!

Of course, we cannot be connected to everyone on our team or in our community at all times. We need to make choices about who we are investing in and who are the critical relationships for us. And we need to be aware of how much time and capacity we have. It helps to write down who you are committed to being in the right relationship with. 

Others may be acquaintances and colleagues you invest less energy in but treat with respect. If you are in a formal leadership position, you will need to foster skills across your company to help everyone stay connected and check in with staff. 

(You know I am going to say this – but here’s a reminder – to be tuned in and awake to what is happening with others… you need to be awake to yourself and take care of yourself. If there is no energy left in your engine, these practices will be hard to do! Be on the lookout for more in March about staying awake to yourself!)


P.S. Here are some additional resources for Step 3 – Checking In:
4 essential human connections we all need right now
Simple ways to connect with each other, even virtually
How to stay open when you are ready to shut the conversation down
Tips for staying open & non-defensive in difficult conversations
5 Steps for Grounding During Instability
5 steps for grounding during instability pdf
2 questions that cut back the stress

* Vessel Consulting uses Brene Brown’s definition of leadership, “A leader is anyone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential.”

Rheanna SmithStaying Awake to Others While Navigating Change
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Shift your current situation while staying put.

Something needs to change. You can feel it in your muscles or hear it from a quiet, determined voice inside. Perhaps it is a small change whispering to do it differently. Maybe you know something big needs to shift and are feeling antsy and excited.

But what if you cannot make the change right now? Or the way forward isn’t clear?

Focus on what is in front of you and in your control. You can always make subtle changes in your environment and in your own response.
Watch this video for actions you can take now to shift your current situation before you make a bigger change.


You do not have to leap all at once. Little shifts in your current environment can lead to new openings and perspectives. 

(Missed part one, check it out here – 4 steps to begin a transition.)

Need to see this all in writing? Download the accompanying guide!

Getting ready for a transition and not wanting to do it alone? 

In a leadership position striving for positive community change and in support of justice for black and brown people?

I am starting a special edition Clear Harbor cohort specifically focused on leaders who are contemplating a career or life transition. There are only 3 spots left!

Let’s talk!  Plus more info.

Rheanna SmithShift your current situation while staying put.
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4 doable steps to move toward a big (or small) transition in your work and life

Why, you may ask, am I offering up thoughts on making a big transition in a pandemic and during economic instability?

Many clients and friends are thinking about making large (and small) life transitions.

Multiple times a week I talk with someone about changing a career or finding a new way to do things.

The pandemic, the fight for justice for black and brown people, the economic uncertainty is causing many people to get clear on how they want to show up in the world and where they want to put their efforts.

And some of us are in the thick of the biggest challenges of our lives. There is little time to think of the next hour. If you are there, this first video could still offer a place to carve a little breathing room for what happens in a few years.

Check out these 4 doable steps to move toward a big (or small) transition in your work and life.

I’ve created this guide with all 4 steps as a resource for you.

Getting ready for a transition and not wanting to do it alone?

In a leadership position striving for positive community change and in support of justice for black and brown people?

I am starting 2 new Clear Harbor cohorts this February. One is specifically focused on leaders who are contemplating a career transition. 

Let’s chat – more info here and jump on my calendar to talk more.

Rheanna Smith4 doable steps to move toward a big (or small) transition in your work and life
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