There are many dimensions of health including: mental, emotional, spiritual, physical, environmental and more. It’s pretty self-evident that the healthier you are, the better you can perform. Performance is foundational to leadership yet health is rarely part of the leadership conversation. If anything, as researcher Brene Brown says, being run down from exhaustion has become a "status symbol." Although people may admire your tenacity and commitment, being exhausted is not a healthy state and it's unlikely you are performing optimally.
As Thomas Leonard points out above, very little time is spent by most of us on our own care and well-being. Since it's January and many of us are thinking about improvements and changes we want to make in our lives. Why not consider how improving your health can improve your leadership?
This week we want to focus on physical health. If your physical health isn’t optimized, your performance isn’t either and your ability to lead is limited by the energy being siphoned to health issues.
So how do you take care of your physical health? What do you do for yourself? What are your practices? Most people think about this and focus on diet and exercise – often beating themselves up for all the things they are still “doing wrong” or “not doing,” or they believe they don’t have time, etc. The thing is, there are incremental steps you can take to start improving your physical health without taking on a big program. Here are some easy steps you can make today:
- Get informed. There is a lot of misinformation and confusion out there about what really is healthy. We recommend two solid resources, Dr. Andrew Weil and Dr. Mehmet Oz. Both of these doctors are highly educated and make clear information widely available. Dr. Weil has a great web site with a searchable database for health issues www.drweil.com He also has two fundamental books that can help you – 8 Weeks to Optimum Health and Eating for Optimum Health. Dr. Oz has a TV show that you can Tivo or DVR if you don’t feel like reading. If you do want to read, he and his partner Dr. Michael Roizen also wrote, “You: The Owner’s Manual” which has lots of great information.
- Do the basics. An example of “the basics” is that we have all heard you need to drink 6-8 glasses of water per day, (8 ounce glasses that is). Yet how many of us do it? If you can just do this piece, your health will be improved simply because you will be hydrated. Don’t like plain water? Squeeze half a lemon or lime in it. Still not good? A splash of cranberry or pomegranate juice has health benefits and helps with the taste, (provided you are doing just a splash and you are doing real juice, not the high sugar filled kind.) The basics are covered in the works of Dr. Weil and Dr. Oz we mentioned above and being hydrated is one example of improving your health without feeling like you are taking hours out of your day for a huge program.
- See your doctor. A lot of us skip exams and annual tests we should be doing. Whether it’s a mammogram or a colonoscopy many people are not doing their “regular maintenance.” So if you haven’t seen your doctor or you have been skipping tests, get them done. If you don’t like your current doctor, ask around. Check with a friend or colleague whose health you admire and get a new physician to work with.
Obviously we are not physicians and this blog is not intended to dispense medical advice. We are simply suggesting that health is actually part of the leadership conversation and the healthier you are the better you can lead. So do yourself a favor and care for your health and well-being all 52 weeks of the year!