Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning Is Time for Leaders to Take Stock

March 4, 2022
If you are feeling burned out, begin to take note of what re-energizes you.

IndustryWeek's elite panel of regular contributors.

In some areas of the country, you may still have snow on the ground like me. With one look out the window into the flower bed, I can see the daffodils starting to sprout up through the frozen earth. For me, this time of year is when I start itching to spring clean.

But, it’s not just my house that needs a good deep clean. There are times in your life as a leader that you need to take a moment and lean into what your body is telling you. Are you feeling full of energy or burned out?

If you are feeling the latter, begin to take note of what fills you up. There is a difference in what fills up your time and what fills up your soul. Have you packed your life with tasks that are just taking up time? Or are you focusing on what is truly important and making an impact on the world? Maybe, it is time to slow down and smell the daffodils.


As you are taking stock of all that is going on in your life, try to say “no” to those tasks that do not fill you up. It is better to say “no” than to say “yes” and spend precious energy dreading doing the task. You will feel much better—and be a better leader—if you are giving your energy to things that energize you.

For instance, as a company leader, I am given the opportunity to participate in many events. I have found that I must be very intentional in selecting the opportunities I say yes to. My personal why is to support the manufacturing community—so if by saying yes, I have a larger impact, then I am all in.

On the home front, nothing makes me feel better than purging all the physical items that no longer serve me. You can clean out the closet removing clothes and shoes you have not worn in years. Donating these items is a great way to give back to your community. In addition, you feel a sense of accomplishment as you admire your now clean, organized closet.

How might you carry your cleaning into the workplace? I find that cleaning out my files quarterly ensures that I purge project information that is complete making room for new goals.

In the manufacturing plant, as a team, we cleaned out corners where things had gotten piled up. If something was no longer in use or broken, we threw it away. Boy, do you feel better when everything is organized!


In your personal life, cleansing may look like a restful vacation in an area you love. The time away from duties as a leader will give you a moment to relax and reset. Enjoy reconnecting with loved ones using those slow moments to have deep, meaningful conversations. Try to disconnect from technology and reflect on what you are grateful for. When you return to the office, you will find that you are re-energized to tackle the next challenge!

At home, you may wash the rugs and change out the air filters as you begin spring cleaning. Washing the windows always allows more light in. Bring some of the new blooms from the garden indoors. You will notice that when your personal life is in order you will bring more positive, contagious energy to your work.

At the office, I completely lost it one day when we were tracking dirty, slushy snow everywhere. I thought, “There has to be a better way.” Then, I remembered that pre-COVID everyone on the team had a chore each week. Our weekly chores meant that everyone participated in helping take out the garbage, scrub the restrooms, vacuum the carpets or wipe down the kitchen.

By cleansing every day, we ensure that we have a comfortable, pleasant place to work. Also, we will never be embarrassed if a client or vendor drops in for a visit.

Take a moment to appreciate all the effort put into cleaning and cleansing. Be grateful for sense of pride you have created in your life, home and workplace.


Now that everything has been made whole again, continuing your good habits of cleaning and cleansing may be the hardest part. As a leader, you must make goals for yourself in your personal and professional life to ensure that you stay on track. Having a clear vision of your future will help you and the team stay the course when life throws curveballs.

What areas of your life need a good spring cleaning?

Ashleigh Walters is president of Onex and author of Leading with Grit and Grace.

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