Have you made New Year’s resolutions?
Are you sticking to them?
If you’re like many of us, one your resolutions may be to improve your health through regular working out.
My primary health club becomes notably overcrowded in January. Quite perceptibly, the additional usage subsides, week by week… by late February, it’s left largely to the old familiars….
By springtime, many earnest resolutions have dissolved in the solvent of alcohol fueled Happy Hours.
This predictable cycle might be dismissed as nothing more than glimpse at the vanity of human wishes.
Alternatively, it might be seen as indicative of one’s capacity to serve and lead.
Self Care is Service
There are a lot of trolls out there who are quite prepared to spend their undercutting others who are undertake serious New Years resolutions to change ones’ health. A common refrain—largely heard from those who are not notably physically vigorous—is that self-care is self-centered, vain.
That kind of thought process is similar to those who would claim that any use of alcohol inevitably puts one on the road to alcoholism.
That is to say, it’s wrong. It’s really wrong.
Taking care of one’s health is a prerequisite of high-performance, sustainable service to others.
Samuel Johnson put it succinctly:
To preserve health is a moral and religious duty, for health is the basis of all social virtues. We can no longer be useful when we are not well.
Truly, leaders serve through self-care.
10 Ways Leaders Serve Through Health Lifestyle Choices
1. Healthy lifestyle choices are the sole sources of vitality that in your power to change. Any service that you can render, you can render more effectively if you’re at maximal vitality.
2. Optimal physical health helps preserve good judgment. At the higher levels of service—positional or not—judgment becomes the predominant source of your value.
3. Smart lifestyle decisions can lower the risks of ill health. Health challenges of individuals holding power or authority can pose significant risks for those being served. Woodrow Wilson, student of leadership, urged that presidents become “citizen athletes” to serve effectively. Tragically, he did not heed his own advice. His strokes deleteriously affected the course of history. Leaders as varied as Margaret Thatcher and Helmut Kohl and Charles de Gaulle held tightly for power as they lost their touch with their circumstances.
In business, the consequences of such health issues are, of course, much less significant. Change of course or removal is also accomplished more readily. Nonetheless, the principle is the same.
4. Vigorous physical health can mitigate what many wrongly regard as the inevitable consequences of aging. Common observation suggests that there can be great variations of physical capacities among individuals of the same chronological age. An older person who is manifestly vital may be notably valuable. They can combine the wisdom of experience and reflection with the energy ordinarily associated more commonly with the young.
Indeed, with the aging of the Baby Boom generation, they may add unexpected value in any number of fields.
5. Manifest good health conveys other positive characteristics. As argued in a recent article in the Harvard Business Review, individuals who are manifestly healthy may be perceived as having other relevant, positive characteristics.
In our less buttoned down time, dressing for success may mean eating and drinking and exercising wisely, systematically.
6. If you serve by leading others, your example of healthful living can add value by inspiring others. This might include those in your enterprise, or it might mean others with whom you’re in contact.
7. Discipline in one’s life ongoing life decisions conduces to mindfulness, to being fully present. Our lives and work can all too readily move into autopilot. Seeking relief from the unceasing demands, we can become nothing more than bundles of habits. Such habits can be good—as in good health choices—or they can be out of date, self-destructive.
8. Enforcing healthy lifestyle decisions on oneself often places one apart from—or at odds with—the cultural clues in one’s midst. One need look no further than an American airport or restaurant or entertainment venue to see how conventional living is bequeathing a sub-optimal health results in our time
9. The routines of good health habits can be a good fit with habits of intense work, punctuated by invigorating breaks, changes of pace. This can overcome the multifarious rationalizations of inertia of desk-bound individuals.
10. Enforcing good health habits can disrupt one’s longstanding habits generally, including our selection of boon companions. Decisions about daily life that result in unconventional choices may incline one to seek out others who share your values. A virtuous cycle of improvement can result.
10 Ways Leaders Serve Through Self Care