Over several decades, I've gleaned a lot of health-related information from books, conferences, and various health experts. Based on my observations, I have come to realize that most great leaders understand the impact of their overall health on their leadership — and they pay close attention to it.
Borrowing from many sources, I've developed my own Leaders Health Check-up, using the acronym SMEP to represent the following four components: S (Spiritual); M (Mental); E (Emotional); and P (Physical).
In a person's life experience, all attributes are interconnected and affect how they behave. My mentor, Frank Moran, often would say, "The whole person goes to work." He was right; that's exactly what I've observed.
Don't get nervous. I'm not going to get religious on you. However, based on my personal experience and what I've seen in studying many great leaders, I believe that at the inner core of all of us is a spirit, or a soul — or whatever you want to call it. I believe that's the "command center." It's what drives our behaviors and causes us to do this and not do that. It is the root of many of our actions.
Over the years, I've shared my Christian beliefs with people all over the world. Often, I would say, "This is what I believe and base my life on; what do you believe?"
My first challenge to my readers is this: Get in touch with your spiritual life. Take some time to think about the following questions: What do I believe, and why? Do my actions match what I say I believe?
By mental health, I mean the types of thoughts and ideas you're putting into your mind. To figure out what your mental focus is, I would suggest asking yourself several questions:
- What do I look at?
- What do I watch?
- What do I read?
- What do I listen to?
Because all my readers are mature adults, I'm not going to give a bunch of examples. Instead, I encourage you to privately assess your answers to the previous four questions. The answers will have a huge impact on you. Here's one silly example, but it gives you an idea of what I mean. If you read the obituaries every day, it impacts you in some way — maybe good, maybe bad. My advice is to know which it is, because it makes an incredible difference in how you approach issues that arise in both your business and personal life.
My epiphany with this trait came more than 25 years ago. There was — and is — a very well-known leader who I consider a long-distance mentor through his books and conferences. At one of his presentations, he shared what he had learned in dealing with a bout of clinical depression. During his talk he said that, prior to his illness, he had a daily routine of assessing his physical and spiritual health (he knew, like many of us, that he was going at it pretty hard, and he didn't want to get derailed). What he discovered during his illness was that he needed to monitor his emotional health as well as what was going on physically. These are my takeaways from his talk:
- All of us have a fixed amount of emotional energy.
- Just like not eating will cause physical problems, negative emotional energy can do the same.
- Some people give you emotional energy.
- Other people drain you of emotional energy.
- Know who those people are.
- Limit your time with the drainers.
Like this leader, I would recommend assessing your emotional energy daily, and I suggest that you monitor your time with drainers. This may sound harsh, but remember that you're the leader of the whole team, not just this person(s).
If you're reading this post, chances are you probably know plenty about your physical health. Things to ask when evaluating your physical health include:
- Is there something that's been bothering me for a while? Don't ignore pains/symptoms, like I have done. They won't go away.
- Am I getting regular feedback from my doctor? Get an annual physical and follow your doctor's advice, or get a new doctor.
- Am I getting enough sleep? Most experts would recommend seven to eight hours per night. I've found that some of us need more.
- How much do I weigh? Do your best to stay within your recommended body weight.
- Am I giving my body the fuel it needs? Eat regular, balanced, healthy meals.
- Am I moving enough? Exercise regularly. I suggest having a trainer design a program that meets your specific needs.
Based on my experience, if you're not doing well in your spiritual, mental, or emotional life, it will directly impact your physical health. Where you have cracks, they will be exposed.
My mother-in-law is 96 years old and has excellent health and no pain. Her secret weapon is moderation.
So, now you have it — the complete program known as the Doescher Advisors Leaders Health Check-up. Sad to say, I have known too many talented leaders who have ignored one of these aspects of their health and have fallen short of their full potential. That's why I recommend periodically performing a gut check and asking, "How am I doing spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically (SMEP)?"
Seek. Climb. Lead.