Leaders often have a heavy schedule. Travel and jet-lag may add fatigue. They have to resolve stressful situations and have to manage public exposure inside or outside of their organizations. Physical and mental well-being are essential conditions to efficiently cope with these challenges. Just like top performers in sports, leaders have to look after their fitness in order to become true corporate athletes.
A certain while ago I was on a domestic flight in the US. I think it was in the South. When I left the plane, the flight attendant said to me: “take good care of yourself”. That is a very “everyday” comment and probably it was a usual greeting that she gave to many other passengers.
But for some reason, this sentence resonated in my mind and I wrote it down. First of all, I found it very kind. But secondly, it made me think. She did not say “I wish that others will take good care of you”. She was hoping that I would do so. And I think she was very right. I suddenly realized that I was maybe not taking care enough of myself. And who will, if I don’t? We do indeed have a particular responsibility to look after our own health and well-being.
As leaders we are often confronted to heavy agenda constraints. We have to deal with fatigue from travel and yet-lag. We have to resolve complex problems. We are exposed to potentially stressful or conflictual situations and we may have to manage public exposure inside or outside of our organizations.
To deal efficiently with all of these expectations requires physical and mental fitness. Both aspects, the mental and the physical aspect are of course closely connected. This is the case in high performing business environments exactly as it is the case for top performers in sports.
In that sense, it is fair so say that we have to become real corporate athletes. That requires making certain trade-offs: leaving the office a bit earlier to go to the gym, investing time to work with a therapist or with a coach, ensuring to get enough sleep and ensuring a healthy diet are some of the important decisions we need to conscientiously make in order to take good care of ourselves.
Because this message from the flight attendant has been useful to me, I thought I should share it also here with you. Going more regularly to the gym can have a great effect on how well you sleep and how balance you are the next day. Doing some work with a coach to share stuff that is in your mind but that it is not necessarily easy to talk about with colleagues can be highly beneficial.
The investment is worth it and you may experience that people in your environment will start to comment on the positive changes they are observing “you are more calm and self-confident. You look fit, etc.”.
We are responsible for our “machine” (our body and mind). We need to look after the software and the hardware. Neglecting it does not work well in the long run and nobody else that us can do so. Let me therefore say to you what the US flight attendant said to me: take good care of yourself!
More information in my book:
Sven Sommerlatte : Successful Career Strategy – An HR Practitioner’s Guide to Reach Your Dream Job (Springer, June 2023). ISBN: 978-3-662-66790-3