I’m going to let you in on a secret about Diamond6….
Even though the word “leadership” is in our name, we often consider it secondary to a much more important topic – your health. Let me explain.
When I ask you to visualize a hardworking, successful leader what do you see?
My guess is picture number one.
The expectation is that to be effective, successful and respected by colleagues and subordinates a leader should be doing something all the time. Days are full of meetings, phone calls, emails and 24/7 accessibility. Every moment of the day must be filled or else we aren’t working hard enough. “No rest for the weary!” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” are all too common phrases that we hear – either from others or we tell ourselves.
Our lives are hectic, there’s no doubt about that. Technology makes us accessible no matter where we are or what time it is, causing work time to flow over into our personal time. Who hasn’t checked work email at dinner or been on a conference call during soccer practice?
We know that putting aside time for health and self-care is important. But, we don’t make it a priority like we do work-related tasks. Habits like exercising, eating well, drinking plenty of water, and spending time outside are squeezed into whatever open space may be left in an already overflowing calendar. If we do make time for, or prioritize self-care it often comes with feelings of guilt and shame. Guilt for making ourselves a priority and shame because we’re afraid what others might think. “She should be working on that big report instead of going for a walk!”
The Rippe Health Assessment Study of Senior Executives found that senior executives are at a higher risk for heart disease and are more inclined to having elevated cholesterol and high blood pressure. This study further concluded that 73 percent of the executives who participated were not active enough, and nearly 40 percent were obese.
This study was conducted by Dr. James Rippe, associate professor of medicine (cardiology) at Tufts University School of Medicine and founder/director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and Rippe Health Assessment. In response to the results, Dr. Rippe said, “The critical levels of risk factors for heart disease among senior executives affect everyone in the business world, from employees to stockholders. And because risk factors multiply each other in relation to the risk of heart disease, an overweight, inactive senior executive is something that no American company can afford.”
I would add that inactive, sick employees is also something your organization cannot afford.
If you are not regularly practicing self-care habits you are doing a disservice to yourself, your organization and those you lead. A sick, tired, and stressed leader will be ineffective, making all other knowledge about leadership completely obsolete. This is why we believe that your health is of utmost importance.
All leaders must lead by example. This cannot be more true than when it comes to the health of the people in your organization. When others see you practicing self-care habits it gives them permission to do the same for themselves.
Here are three self-care habits you can start TODAY and lead others to taking care of themselves as well.
Walk: Studies have linked sitting to a greater risk for a variety of cancers, as well as type 2 diabetes. And, more than half of our waking hours are spent sitting. Walking meetings are a great way to incorporate movement into your day, while still getting work done and getting others motivated to move. For example; set aside an hour once a week for your walking meeting and put it on your calendar. Let colleagues know if they wish to discuss something with you they are welcome to join you for your walk. Encourage others to follow suit and schedule walking meetings into their calendars as well.
Drink: It seems simple enough, but most of us don’t drink enough water. My recommendation is to drink half your weight in ounces. For example; if you weigh 150 lbs you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day. To get others on board with drinking water make sure to bring your water to meetings or offer a bottle of water to anyone who comes into your office. Make sure employees have access to clean drinking water by providing a water cooler or water fountain close by.
Learn: The wonderful part of being in an office setting is that you have built in teammates. Learning together about health and wellness is a great way to get motivated and consequently hold each other accountable to practicing new self-care habits. It can also foster team building, compassion and awareness for one another. Reach out to a local health expert to conduct a “Lunch and Learn” class or bring in a yoga instructor once a week to do a short stretching class.