Author: Pettijohn, Cinnamon
Date published: July 1, 2012
5 BUSINESS PRINCIPLES
TO APPLY TO YOUR HEALTH
You don't have to work in a corner office to benefit from the wisdom of the business world. In fact, anyone concerned about their health and well-being can learn a thing or two from world-class business leaders. Cinnamon Pettijohn explains.
Thirteen years ago I moved to the big city for my first professional job. I was a fresh graduate with ambition, my own office, a shiny new business degree to hang on the wall, and (if I'm honest) an overblown sense of my abilities. My journey through the business world began with a general cluelessness on how to operate the giant copy machine . . . and the lessons just kept coming. But what kept me gainfully employed over the years was that I was smart enough to watch and learn. Over time I've observed lots of bosses, colleagues, and subordinates. I started to notice the traits that resulted in success. By reading loads of management books as I earned a master's degree (to hang next to my other diploma), I've been able to confirm some leadership lessons that hold up in work and life.
Interestingly, I discovered that these good business practices also lead to success in health and wellness. And I'm not the only one who has realized that lessons from the professional world apply also to personal health. Many leadership gurus agree. The best and brightest business professionals openly report a strong overlap between health and work success.
Robin Sharma, leadership expert and best-selling author, regularly blogs about the interconnection of success in business and health. He tells leaders: "You can't be great if you don't feel great. Make exceptional health your number one priority." Observing that the best leaders appear to be the fittest, Sharma notes, "Daily exercise is an insurance policy against future illness."
Management expert Tom Peters encourages his leadership team to double their exercise regimen during tough times, because "physical sharpness is insanely important to mental evenness." Considered among the world's top 10 leadership trainers, Anthony Robbins has created a business empire of "leadership psychology" that is also deeply intertwined with health teachings and products.
So it seems the great business minds might just know something we don't. If you're ready to follow their lead, here are a few powerful business lessons to apply to your health and well-being.
TO ACCOMPLISH GREAT THINGS, STOP BEING BUSY BEING BUSY.
Joe Tye of Values Coach, Inc., recently shared that he keeps a large poster in his office that says, "One big YES requires a lot of little NOs."
Have you ever watched eight hours in the office slip away because of small requests -menial projects, pointless chitchat, or useless busywork? As a result, the big project that would make a huge difference for your organization gets bumped to tomorrow's to-do list.
What derails your focus? It may be your people-pleasing tendency, or the fact that you are uncomfortable saying no to others' requests. Sharma says it best: to accomplish great things, stop being busy being busy. Filter everything through your one big goal.
In application to health, keep your eye on the term prize, whether it is weight loss, improved nutrition, or increased activity. Ask yourself if this small "yes" is a step toward your one big "yes. " If it isn't, say no to the unimportant.
For example, if your goal is to lose weight, say a small "no" to a fattening extra, such as a creamy condiment, a soda with your meal, or a fried side dish. If you are building your cardiac fitness, say no to the elevators and head to the stairs. Tell the half hour of television "No, thanks," and do a few stretches instead. Identify the small temptations for what they are - distractions from the big goal.
BUSINESS PRINCIPLE I
FIND YOUR ONE BIG "YES."
BUSINESS PRINCIPLE 2
JUST DO IT.
During the course of a routine progress meeting with my boss, I was lamenting the details of one of my current projects. He leaned over the table, looked me straight in the eye, and told me that I had the tendency to stall out. Ouch. He explained how he watched me run energetically toward a project with a strong start. However, given a little time and too much thought, the paralysis of analysis slows me to a glacial pace. This was some of the toughest (and truest) feedback I had ever received in the workplace. He was telling me loud and proud: Just do it! Stay in motion. Keep the course. Even when you don't feel like it or you've convinced yourself you have good reason to slow down, just do it.
Sound familiar? Remember those New Year's resolutions ... or every single Monday of your life when you were going to start to work out on Monday, but didn't? You've said it before: This is the week I'll start. This year, I'll start every day with 10 minutes of spiritual devotion and prayer. That's it, no more chocolate, because starting tomorrow: No. More. Sugar. Then the week gets busy, or you hit the snooze button, or someone brings doughnuts to the office.
Don't be discouraged. Just do it now. A Fortune 500 leader summed it up by saying, "Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly the first time." I've learned in business, as well as in health and wellness, that my work (or workout) doesn't have to be perfect every time. As long as I'm in motion or on the court, I can always improve as I go.
I continue to learn this lesson from my brother - a driven and successful businessman, as well as a wildly creative individual. Ninety percent of the time when I ask his opinion on an idea (whether it's a party I want to throw, a business project I'm considering, a home décor idea I want to try, or a date invitation I might accept), his answer is the same: "Just do it."
BUSINESS PRINCIPLE 3
one of the quickest things I learned about business is how much depends on the quality of your relationships. Li£e it or not, business, is often about "who you know" or who is willing to follow your lead, A traditional business mantra is "Take care of your relationships, and the success [customers, money, growth] will follow."
How does this apply to health and fitness? You will thrive in an environment of support. Do you Haye a friend with whom you can exercise? Is your family on board for nutritious meals? Can you. talk with others about health tips mat have worked for them? Oo you need the support of a personal tramer? In a time When; virtual relationships (Facebook, Twitter, text messages, e-mails) rule, it is more important than ever io nurture the face-to-face connections that will support your success.
Additionally, the pressures of business have taught me the importance of work/life balance. At one point, I felt so stressed that I happily accepted the six free professional counseling sessions my health insurance plan offered. My first session was a diligent rant of my work stresses, pressures to perform, and subsequent feelings of overwhelm. Before long I had self-diagnosed myself with work burnout and was just about to walk out on that stinking job. With a few ' guided questions and reflection, however, that counselor helped me see not only did I love my work, but also I felt great pride in my results. The truth was that I was out of balance in other areas of my life.
Don't invest everything you've got in one area of your life. Divide your time appropriately between your work, your health, your family, and God. And it will pay off in dividends.
Everything I Need to Know About Health I Learned From a . . . CEO?
Who knew we could learn so much about health from professionals who average 1 7. 9-hour workdays? Yet these are people trained to maximize time and spot inefficiencies in operations. Here's how those facing some of the highest pressures hold it together.
Invest in sleep. "Healthy behavior means better sleep," says Chip Griffin, founder and CEO of CustomScoop. By including regular exercise and good nutrition, he gets deeper and more restful sleep. And great sleep is a good business investment, because it results in increased focus and productivity.
Exercise for creative inspiration. Many CEOs swear by exercise every day, preferably in the morning. While this may sound overwhelming, it exponentially produces energy and inspiration. Pat O'Donnell, CEO of Aspen Skiing Company, claims her creative time and much of her inspiration come during physical activity. 'That's when I do a lot of my thinking. As a matter of fact, it's almost ridiculous now because i take a little notepad from station to station. I usually walk out [of the gym] with six or seven new ideas every morning."
Start early. In a Yahoo! Finance survey of 20 CEOs, a common theme emerged. Eighty percent of the CEOs woke up at 5:30 a.m. or earlier, with the latest wake-up time at 6:00 a.m. Those early hours seem to serve as quality quiet time to prepare for the rest of the day. Some of the common uses of those morning moments include reading, exercising, eating a healthy breakfast, or helping children get ready for school.
Build in a break. Sir Winston Churchill, a legendary leader, was known for his routine afternoon naps. While that's not practical for most people, several CEOs build in quick "recovery periods," especially in midafternoon. Do whatever relaxes you (reading, walking, or listening to music) to take a break from all the action. Fiercely guard this appointment.
Skip the gym. Kirk MacDonald, CEO of the Denver Newspaper Agency, warns against compartmentalizing work, family, and fitness. Instead of adding "go to gym" to your to-do list, find more creative ways to exercise. One CEO is said to skip the complimentary car service available to him and chooses instead to walk the 18 minutes to work. Another leader vows not to trade family time on the weekends for a trip to the gym. Instead, she bikes with her family, rides horses, or even chops wood. Or maximize your time by exercising at home while doing another activity, such as watching sports or news.
BUSINESS PRINCIPLE 4
A mentor of mine (and the president/ CEO of a company for which I worked) was preparing to lead a large conference call among several organizations. The beginning of the call was bumpy with unexpected frustrations and unplanned problems. I watched as she initially got flustered and annoyed as she and I were forced to jump in together to fix things we hadn't messed up in the first place. Fifteen minutes into the call, I realized I had not heard a word of this meeting, because I was still fuming from the initial mess-ups. I looked over at this leader, and I could tell those issues were long gone for her. In that moment, I saw that success depends in large part on your ability to rebound quickly from disappointment.
An admired business teacher once said, "Businesses don't fail, owners quit." Inevitably, obstacles will stand in the way of your best-laid health plans. When faced with failure or setback, can you rebound quickly and get back to your commitment? Don't beat yourself up for missing a workout. Try not to yell if a change in schedule throws everything off plan. Bob and weave if any unexpected punch comes at you. This requires resiliency and flexibility. It's well known that any good exercise regimen includes an element of flexibility training to improve range of motion and reduce muscle tension and soreness. Stay flexible in your body and your mind. We are all facing similar challenges, struggles, and restraints to living a fit and healthy life. Some people just find the stamina to rebound and keep their goals alive.
BUSINESS PRINCIPLE 5
SET A GoAL.
While this is a tried-andtrue basic business premise, don't underestimate the power of simply setting a goal. Your goals don't have to be complicated or numerous, but they do have to be specific and declared. Some leaders recommend setting small goals for each day. For example, Sharma calculates that if you set five daily goals every morning, you will accomplish nearly 2,000 little victories by the end of the year. No matter your goals, he also recommends a "monomaniacal focus on the few things that matter." (Refer back to Business Principle #1!)
My addendum to this lesson is this: set a goal, work feverishly . . . and then take a break. I've noticed in the workplace after several hours on a project I need to step away for a breath. When I return, the project seems fresh and 1 have new ideas. A rest provides a renewal.
When I first took up jogging, 1 would run until I was a special shade of pink. I would run until I could barely breathe. I would run (almost) to the point that I cursed my own existence. Then, I would come home and treat myself to a delightful break. Maybe it was a guilt-free night of vegetating on the couch. Sometimes I sat for a while on a park bench at the end of the running trail. Sometimes I would quickly shower and go enjoy an hour in a pedicure chair. I often use a motto for employee recognition in the workplace: "What gets rewarded gets repeated." So reward yourself, and you'll be more likely to repeat that healthy behavior!
Sometimes it's said that the only thing the business world cares about is making money. But most of us have learned there is so much more to life. True wealth is greater than money. In fact, I propose health is the greatest wealth. Working the 9 to 5 grind has taught me a lot of lessons - including how much I didn't know that I didn't know. So I give thanks to all those perpetually beeping fax machines, the everlasting meetings, all the bosses (good and bad), and the nonsensical jargon I have learned. After all of my work adventures, I am simply grateful, because business has taught me a thing or two about living a healthy and happy life.
Cinnamon Pettijohn has gathered business wisdom from coast to coast, working as a manager or director for four hospital systems from southern California to Washington, DC.
"Fit to Be CEO: How Some CEOs Link Fitness and Performance." www.thefreelibrary.com.
"The Connection Between Business Success and Health and Fitness." www.pardonthedisruption.com.
"The Daily Routine of 17 CEOs." www.lifehack.org. William Mercer Associates