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Pitstop - Prepare

The tyres were all ready, each one guarded by a member of the pitstop crew, poised and ready. The gleaming racing car shot into the slot with precision, stopping sharply. With speed and almost ballet like movement speed, the crew swooped in and within 3 seconds all tyres changed and the car sped off, almost as if it had never been there. All of this overseen, by the eagle eyes of the team manager. Meticulous preparation executed with precision.

Damien Hughes, on the High Performance Podcast, often comments that it is in the pitstops that races are won or lost. The efficiency of the pitstop crews is what can save time to help win a race. For us, as leaders, the time we take for our ‘pitstop’ when we rest, recharge and replenish can be make the difference in our alertness, accuracy, efficiency and therefore success. So often we are lured into one of the lies of leadership, ‘I can’t afford the time to stop’. We have so much on that we think we must keep going. But this could not be further from the truth. Imagine a formula one driver saying, “I can’t afford the time for a pitstop,” when his tyres are blistering and he is running low on fuel. The chances of a burnout tyre or running out of fuel gets high without the pitstop.

So, what makes a good human pitstop? Well, the first thing is to prepare for it. Just like a formula one team, plan beforehand the pitstop time, prepare the pitstop crew with all that is needed, we need to do the same.

Know your pitstop needs

One of the important things to have as a leader is emotional intelligence. This comes in 3 parts, 1) know yourself, 2) know others, 3) know how to connect the two. Knowing yourself includes knowing what strengthens and fuels you. Knowing what runs you down and what is needed to replenish. Knowing the signs that you need replenishing and then responding to it, to ensure that you are a leader that leads themselves. Generally, the areas of replenishment will come under 4 areas:

  • Relational – friends, family, exercising your strengths with others, stimulating conversation

  • Physical – diet, exercise, sleep

  • Mental – reading or watching material that mentally stimulates

  • Spiritual – ways that you replenish your spirit and soul

If you are going to get the most from your pitstop, consider what energises you.

Know what needs refuelling

A while ago I recognised that I was running a little low. I know I need time with my wife, my family and with close, trusted friends. I know I need to keep off the sugars and bad carbs, regularly run and get at least 7 hours sleep. I know I need the opportunity to inspire and equip others and to replenish my faith with reading and reflection. I know reading leadership and coaching and psychology books inspires me. I reviewed how much of these was I getting and identified that I had not been reading for a while. So, I ordered 3 Seth Godin books and within a day my energy levels had risen as I started reading. So, as you prepare for a pitstop, consider what your needs are and prepare for that in your pitstop.

Prepare in advance & book things in

For many people, the summer months is the time to take a holiday, the much-needed break. So, consider what you need at this time and plan it in. If you have identified the gap that needs filling then plan in advance for some of it. This summer, my wife and I are taking time together on a driving holiday for our 30th wedding anniversary. Back in April, we planned in a 10-day North Coast 500 tour to admire the beautiful Scottish scenery and booked the accommodation in advance. I know I need some reading over the summer too so ordered in 5 books that are sitting in a pile ready for the summer. And yes, I couldn’t stop myself and have started them already! When you know you need some relational or mental time, book it in and get the resources ready for it.

Sometimes there are moments, when it feels too pressurised to book in the big pitstop. A headteacher friend of mine recently explained the current pressures they were under. The ‘I’m too busy to stop’ was playing high for them and the thought of stopping completely for the break they desperately needed was causing more stress. In these moments, plan in the ‘mini pitstops’. This can be as simple as:

  • Relational – going home an hour early one night and sitting on a bench with your partner with a drink

  • Physical – popping out for a 15-minute walk at lunchtime in the sunshine

  • Mental – taking 15 mins over a cuppa to read an article

  • Spiritual – stopping on the way home at a beauty spot and sitting in the car just being still

Planning these things in pro-actively, enables your week to have just a little space to breathe and for the brain to not be constantly on the go. If you are in this position, then look at your diary. What little things can you put into the week that will bring joy and replenishment?

One of the important areas we teach at Everyday Leader, is that a leaders need to start by leading themselves. Knowing what fuels you and proactively working this into your day, your week and your year, ensures that you are not only your best for your team but for your family and for you. Preparing and planning for your pitstops is an important part of that.

Everyday Leader is here to inspire and equip you. If you would like to explore the power of understanding yourself better so that you can look after yourself better, you may benefit from coaching with us. Do let us know if we can be of help to you by contacting us at


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