Are You Tired or Weary? A Vital Leadership Difference

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This week in North America we changed our clocks over to Daylight Saving Time.

And on Monday morning millions of people found themselves struggling to deal with that loss of a single hour’s sleep. From a leadership perspective, this meant that countless leaders were operating that day on less than a full tank.

And this has led me to reflect on an important leadership question, and it’s one that I would urge you to consider the next time you let out a yawn:

“Am I tired, or am I weary?”

Tired Weary

The two are obviously related, but they are not the same. And for leaders it is important to understand the difference. To be tired is a reflection of the amount of sleep you’re getting.

Being weary, on the other hand, is entirely different.

To be weary is a condition whereby your entire self is in a state of depletion. Weariness is as much about your soul as it is your body. It can include having your emotional, relational and, yes, spiritual tanks simply emptied out.

As a leader it is important that you understand the difference, because the way you bounce back from each of these conditions is entirely different.

Bouncing back from being tired

When you’re tired, you need sleep. Period.

The prevailing wisdom among sleep experts today suggests that adults require 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night.

If you are consistently giving yourself less than this, it’s time to hit the sack.

And get some rest.

Bouncing back from being weary

When you’re weary you might need a more comprehensive bounce-back regimen.

Bill Hybels calls this the need for leadership replenishment. It begins by doing an honest assessment as to what part of your life is contributing to your sense of weariness. Is it a relational meltdown? Are you emotionally drained? Does your soul need tending?

Replenishment requires taking deliberate, intentional steps to address such factors. For some people it requires:

  • Finding new forms of rest and recreation in their lives
  • Finding ways to carve out more time for relational connections
  • Finding someone to confide in regarding personal struggles

The next time you let out that big yawn, figure out if you’re tired or weary. And if you’re weary, start planning your replenishment program.

Because your leadership requires you to operate with a full tank.

the author

Scott Cochrane

Vice President- International, Global Leadership Network. Love Jesus, Nora, Adam & Robin, Amy, Dave, Willow & Olive and John, Fiona & Will. Lifelong learner.


  1. Very interesting post. As an English learner, I could perfectly understand the difference between the two words. Congrats, and thanks for that. Greetings from Brazil.

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