No matter where you turn, another CEO is writing a book about how he uses meditation to grow his leadership skills, or a fit corporate director is waxing on about the benefits of her daily yoga practice. A recent Fortune cover story shared how Target CEO Brian Cornell starts his days at the gym and often “returns to the gym for a second session after work.” The profile goes on to share how Cornell is a “zealot for optimizing performance not only with exercise but with adequate sleep.”
What do these athletic leaders have in common? They understand that we must not neglect any part of ourselves if we truly want to be productive, a notion that is backed by statistics. I used to marvel at how former President Bill Clinton read multiple books per week. As a college student, I thought, “How does he find the time?” Considering Clinton’s day job, we can theorize he was extremely efficient and didn’t sweat the small stuff.
Speaking of sweating, a strong body isn’t about fat or skinny; it’s about fitness. When you are fit within the definition of your body type and lifestyle, your personal brand thrives. If you’re used to swimming laps three times a week, but a crazy travel schedule means those swims are cut short or eliminated, what happens? You are most likely sluggish, a little irritable and your work suffers.
Edina-based Precision Gasket Co. had work product in mind when it decided to bring a corporate wellness program in-house three years ago. “Every week, PGC staff have the option of joining the company fitness coach for two one-hour sessions of customized training at PGC’s on-site wellness and exercise gym,” explains John Bower, director of sales and marketing.
Bower says results have proven to be priceless, because people are exercising next to others, blind to title: “If you witnessed a training session, you wouldn’t be able to decipher a machine operator from a director or manager. This environment allows everyone to focus on wellness.” PGC also knows this wellness mindset manifests the company’s commitment to its employees, which increases retention and thus saves precious capital.
Whether you have the benefit of a company wellness program or are in charge of your own fitness, there is no single right way. “You should set your own individual goals and then get on a path to achieving them,” advises Minneapolis-based personal trainer Adam Washburn. Along with those goals, set specific dates on the calendar for achievement. But, Washburn stresses, “never set an end date to when you can stop reaching for more fitness, because having a mindset that you can always do better” will keep you motivated.
“Being fit boosts confidence, relieves stress and makes the brain sharper,” says Lily Smith, marketing director for Steele Fitness. She reminds us that not only will you look great, but attention to fitness “will lead to general overall happiness, calm and perceived smarts.” Not bad, right? What’s going on in our minds has a lot to do with what we are able to produce for our families, our employers and our teams.
No matter the stage, your audience wants you to succeed. Think about it. If you go to a rock concert, you want to be entertained. When you listen to a presentation by a colleague, you want to learn something or move a project forward—not see a train wreck. When I share this notion with clients, they are both relieved and a bit surprised. I often say that the calmer you are on the inside, the more powerfully you will communicate to the outside. All of this starts in your head. What inner narrative are you telling yourself to get through your tasks today? If the inner narrative is negative, you will have a hard time communicating successfully with any audience.
The inner narrative starts with your mind, but is fueled by your body. When your body is functioning at optimum capacity, which includes adequate sleep, chances are your mind can do what it needs to produce intended results.
Select Comfort’s Pete Bils shared scientific research at a wellness panel recently about the detrimental effects of caffeine on our sleep. He said caffeine’s half-life is dangerous. In fact, he says if you can’t cut it out entirely, stop consuming caffeine (in beverages or food) by noon every day. Otherwise, it will damage sleep cycles and prevent the deep sleep our bodies need to thrive.
Last year, I had the privilege of interviewing Arianna Huffington while she was promoting her book Thrive. She told me and my radio listeners she’s on a mission to make sleep a priority for people. She suggests you set an alarm at night to signal bedtime, then get to bed. Sleep research also shows that electronic screens like tablets or TVs inhibit sleep when viewed within an hour of bedtime.
Lots of research backs up how body, mind and spirit alignment contributes to the whole person. The first step is for you to decide you want a fit brand that starts with your own fitness.
Roshini Rajkumar is a communication coach, host of News & Views on WCCO Radio, and author of Communicate That! For additional communication tips, visit CommunicateThatBook.com.