The day started off like a normal day or so it seemed. I awoke to my alarm going off. From there, I got dressed, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and spent a relaxing day with Lok. I also tossed in a quick workout on the elliptical. However, partway through the day, I started to feel groggy.
My reading comprehension seemed to wane. My eyes began to blur. And I developed a headache.
That’s when I remembered something… I forgot to take care of myself during the day. Other than a Take 5 candy bar (which are oh so delicious), I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch. By the time dinner rolled around, I was hurting.
This all hit me when Pam and I sat down for a dinner at Logan’s Roadhouse. By the time we finished eating, I felt 95% better. Feeding myself was exactly what I needed… And exactly what I had neglected to do.
When I began to take care of myself, I began to feel better. The headache faded. My vision became clearer. I didn’t feel so fatigued.
But what does this taking care of yourself have to do with leadership?
Why Leaders Have To Take Care Of Themselves
My body was telling me I was neglecting it. I wasn’t feeding myself and I’d over-exerted myself with the exercise. My body’s response was to slow me down and let me know something was wrong.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to tell when you’ve neglected yourself mentally or emotionally as quickly as you can when you neglect to nourish your body. But being mentally and emotionally depleted can be worse than physically depleted.
Research shows sleep deprivation increases your chances for obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Not only that, sleep-deprived people perform at a similar level of someone under the influence of alcohol.
Would you want your employees coming in drunk? Would you want to be seen drunk at work? If both of those answers are no, you need to be aware of the dangers of sleep deprivation.
Another area you need to take care of yourself in is your physical health. When you fail to take care of your body, it impacts every other area of your life.
People who are not physically fit have serious consequences at work. They’re more likely to develop serious health conditions including early heart attacks and depression. They also take more sick days than those who are in better health.
These reasons alone should make you take note. By failing to take care of yourself, you put your team at risk.
The good news is you can do something about it. You can take care of yourself (without neglecting your team).
How To Take Care Of Yourself
So, what can you, as a leader, do to take better care of yourself? There’s plenty and it doesn’t have to cut into your schedule.
Get in bursts of exercise: The best thing you can do for your health and those you lead is to get in better physical shape. It’s an easy, simple thing to do.
Instead of working through your lunch, take a 15-30 minute walk around the office or in a local park. Do push-ups or sit-ups every time you have to get up to go to the bathroom. Hold stand-up or walking meetings.
Find simple ways to bring physical fitness to your life.
Get the right amount of sleep: A lot of people struggle with getting the right amount of sleep. Who doesn’t with the National Sleep Foundation recommending 7 to 9 hours of sleep for the average adult. That’s one-third of your day gone to a “non-productive” activity.
When you look at the facts about sleep deprivation, you can see this thought becomes invalid. By not getting the proper amount of sleep, you lose the ability to make sound decisions.
Begin scheduling your bedtime and wake-up times. Hold fast to these and get the recommended amount of sleep.
Get the right mental stimulation: Another area you may forget to take care of yourself in is in the mental arena. Don’t neglect your mind!
Find great books and magazines to read. Attend conferences and workshops. Do crossword puzzles or mind games.
Stimulating your mind so you’re taking in new content and “stretching” your brain will keep you sharp and up-to-date on important trends and insights.
Get the right physical nutrition: It’s easy to not think about the food you’re eating. After all, you have to eat to live. But what kinds of food are you putting into your body?
Is the food properly nourishing your body or is it a bunch of junk?
Read the labels of the food you’re eating. Take care of your body like you would your mind. Put the right things in.
The great thing about these ways to take care of yourself is that you don’t have to neglect other aspects of your life. You can easily fit a few minutes of exercise into your life, you can create a new schedule that allows you to get the right amount of sleep, and you can crack open a great book at any time.
Take care of yourself. And take care of your people.