Written by: Adam Lloyd
Perfection. Many leaders believe this is attainable and expected of them, as they preoccupy themselves with the emotional distress from a manifested idea that they can be everything to everyone. Is it possible to be a perfect leader? Not really. But you can form perfect habits.
I had a coach once that talked about perfection. His idea however was more about taking pride in our actions and decisions in life. Whether it was mowing the lawn, cooking dinner or practice on the field; we were going to be the best lawn mowers in the world at that given moment in time. The choices we make and the pride we take in executing them is what leads towards a truly “perfect life.” These were the ideals of a leader. A state of mind accompanied by a few tangible areas of life that we can all consider while striving towards our optimal selves. For leaders that have maxed out their stress levels and believe they can increase productivity, there are a few areas in our daily routines to keep in mind in order to lead effectively. You won’t be perfect but can perfect these habits.
RETHINK YOUR FUEL
Executives on the go often don’t have time to think nutrition and analyze their daily diets. While we all try to be health conscience to some degree, diet is one of the easiest and most impactful ways to alter well-being and tune your body for both mental and physical stamina. Leaders need energy, it’s a highly regarded attribute in the interview process when hiring new leaders. “Energy level, do they have it?” To increase it, simple decisions like what we eat do not have to be expensive or time consuming and they make a tremendous impact. Farmer’s Markets that deliver and concepts like Hello Fresh are making it easier. Want your brain and mood to peak, add some walnuts, blueberries, coffee, avocado, salmon, dark chocolate and oatmeal to your regimen. We often think of training seminars, conferences and further education as channels of professional self-improvement but food is also an unbelievable weapon to lead effectively. So step one, eat better to perform better and increase energy, setting you up for longevity and clear decision making.
It’s proven, endless studies link exercise to mental well-being and cognitive function. CEOs are busy, but also are usually in need of burning some physical energy. The excuses tend to lie in a lack of time and it’s often believed you have to put yourself through an hour long boot camp for exercise to actually count. Although more executives are taking time to surf, run and engage in athletics sneaking a 10 minute yoga session or even walking the dog in the morning is also a great way to get blood flowing to the brain. Exercise limits anxiety and agitation, leading to calmer and more rational behavior. Over time energy increases and mental awareness sharpens. Many organizations are accommodating better employee well-being and physical health with facilities, classes and memberships. Leaders should be present to truly promote the movement and encourage employees to take advantage. Outside of work, there are plenty of great apps and at-home options as time savers. I’m runner and enjoy the 10 minute runner’s yoga session on the free Yoga Studio App to supplement runs.
Make a habit of recharging the battery. CEO turnover has been on the rise over the last few years, makes you wonder how much of it is due to burn out. We all need vacations and retreat from time to time to avoid burn out and executives need escapes as well. On a daily basis, meditation is being embraced as the mechanism to improve focus and mental clarity. Like exercise, many companies promote meditation, something you can add to a daily routine. Leaders typically travel frequently having hectic and jam packed agendas. Finding time in between meetings to take in a city you’re not familiar with, having a nice meal or just relaxing, will boost your productivity during the trip. Business-leisure is becoming more common and it’s a great way to maximize business results and rejuvenation. We still seek the long, unplugged vacations, but if time does not allow it, micro-vacations are a great way to escape for the weekend. Outside Magazine lists towns across the U.S. that are easy escapes, off the radar and potentially convenient to experience. Executives need to get away when possible, and considering time is limited, the duration is not as important as the quality of relaxation.
Are you challenged? Progressing? Learning? Contributing? It’s not enough for leaders to belong, they’re constantly put to tests and need to stay sharp. As humans, our brains need to be exercised to stay truly sharp. Most people have fallen into a rut at some point in life, a stagnant existence that becomes so mundane that it programs behavior to comply and go through the motions. WAKE UP! If you’re in this state it’s time to map out your options and look for ways to challenge yourself. It’s tough to lead an organization when you’re not mentally stimulated. If this is lacking, explore your career trajectory and where your path is headed. What’s next? Can you take on new assignments and projects to better yourself and the company? If not, it may be time to brush up the CV and update your LinkedIn profile. If you are content with your professional situation but seek more, consider volunteering, leading community projects, philanthropic boards, etc. There are many ways to create new forms of stimulation while contributing. It’s a win-win and a way to generate excitement.
At the end of the day, it’s what matters most in life. Our companions. Family, friends, pets, neighbors. Experiencing success and life to the fullest is only half full without an outlet to share it all. When you’re at the top of an organization, you need unbiased and loyal people to lean on. As humans we need to belong and value relationships in our lives, but all too often become preoccupied with the moment to remember that these are the people that make-up our support system, cheerleaders and soundboards. As we try to balance time to eat, exercise, rest and progress; it’s important to make an effort to stay connected with people we count on. Relationships remind us that we have purpose, belong and offer a sense of security. These are often the people that know us the best. Outside relationships serve as the commons sense that is valuable to executives, the ones that are comfortable and candid.
CREATE NEW EXPERIENCES
In reading this piece, if you took all 6 steps and formed an analogy, it would be the meal that makes up life habits. In terms of ingredients, EXPERIENCES would make up the spices & flavor. Take all of the other components mentioned above and now try them all in different ways. This is where the “meal” comes together. CEO’s that can get out of their comfort zone and experiment with new ideas, welcome new opinions, visit new places and embrace new people are typically the ones that innovate and progress. This is what makes life interesting and makes us more well-rounded as individuals. Spend money on experiences not things. Studies have shown that spending money on experiences rather than things, results in higher satisfaction with our investment. When you experience more, you can relate to more with blinders off. It’s a good sign if you have slight anxiety in a situation, it's indicator you’re out of your comfort zone.
No leader is perfect, but anyone can live perfectly by adopting these habits.