L25: How to Reengage in Leadership When You’ve Reached a Plateau

For the past year, I have been running really hard. Literally. I signed up to run five distance races over seven months. My workouts have been consumed with running, running and more running — Four times a week, religiously. While I finished all my races with personal bests, I found myself at a plateau. Not tired, just plateaued. Not as engaged, not getting as much of a return from the running regiment that had so motivated me a year ago. So recently, in order to catapult myself out of my plateau, I’ve started a new workout to supplement my running. It’s called T25 (yes, from the infamous Shawn T for those of you in the know). T25 is a workout that is 25 minutes a day. That’s it – – 25 minutes. Five times a week for 5 weeks. Each day is a different workout. Shawn T’s thesis is that if you really focus for 25 minutes every single day for 5 weeks at a time, you’ll get results. My first reaction was “25 minutes? Really? There’s no excuse. If I can’t find 25 minutes in my day, something is fundamentally wrong.”

So I started my 5 week journey to break out of my doldrum. As I sweated through my workout on day 5, week 2, a thought occurred to me – many of the leaders we work with find themselves at a plateau, especially at the end of the year. They’ve been driving hard since the beginning of the year, yet they’re not as engaged and not getting as much out of themselves or their teams. Taking a personal retreat or sabbatical to reenergize oneself may be out of the question but what if leaders embarked on their own 5 week personal journey to catapult them out of their plateau? 25 minutes of focus, five days a week for 25 days. How would they feel? What if there was a T25 for leadership – Leadership 25 or L25, for short?

If you are still reading and L25 has piqued your interest, I invite you to join the L25 challenge. Here’s a roadmap for you. Each day focuses on a different “workout”. Spend 25 focused minutes reflecting and jotting down your thoughts on the questions for each day. Remember, this is focused energy – – no interruptions, no distractions, no email, no multi-tasking. After all, it’s only 25 minutes. You’ll have to put your all into that short amount of time to get the most out of it.

Day 1: Cardio – Focus on your Heart

  1. Why do you do this work? What purpose does it serve?
  2. How does your work align with what is personally important to you?
  3. What would make the alignment even tighter between what your heart feels, what you want and what you do?

Day 2: Speed – Focus on your Priorities

  1. What are your priorities for next week?
  2. What trade-offs are you making next week and are they aligned with your priorities?
  3. How does your schedule reflect your overall priorities?

Day 3: Total Circuit – Focus on your Vision

  1. What is your vision for your team/organization?
  2. What are you doing that is in support of that vision?
  3. What are you doing that distracts from that vision?

Day 4: Strength – Focus on your Value

  1. What is the value you bring to your role?
  2. What would be lost if you were not the one in your role?
  3. What would be gained if you were not the one in your role?

Day 5: Stretch – Focus on your Progress

  1. What are you most proud of from this past week?
  2. What are you most looking forward to next week?
  3. How do you feel?

It’s not enough to make the resolution to get engaged and expect it to happen. You’ve got to put your work into it. After all, how many folks will get physically fit just by watching a workout vs. actually doing the workout? If your level of engagement has plateaued and you’re looking to lead with a new sense of passion, commit yourself to 25 minutes a day of non-negotiable, focused energy to yourself and your work.

As for me, I’m on week 3 of T25 and feel the difference already. The final results are TBD but somehow I think no matter what the numbers show, the plateau breakthrough I yearned for will happen. I hope it does for you too.

Read More by Topic

  • Leading Others

    Motivating, developing, and inspiring others is a big part of the job. Look here for new strategies and tips.

  • Leading Self

    Wanting to be your best self? Check out our articles on Building confidence, being your most authentic self, time management, and other ways to build your overall resilience

  • Leading the Business

    Looking to build your strategic leadership muscle? Read our latest thinking on setting vision, strategic thinking, and operating at an enterprise level.

  • Paravis on HBR

    Harvard Business Review provides the latest in ideas and advice to leaders. See what Paravis is contributing on HBR.org.

  • Presence, Leadership, and Communications

    For over a decade, our sweet spot has included helping leaders build an authentic and connected presence. Click here for more articles on the topic.  Want more?  READ OUR BOOK