If you watch television, listen to the radio, or read news and magazine articles, you are likely inundated with information about the important role physical exercise plays in our health and well-being on a daily basis. Exercise boosts brainpower, reduces stress, gives you energy, wards off disease, improves relationships, boosts performance, and lets you eat more; seems like with all those great benefits, everyone would make sure they’re physically fit. But according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition, less than 5% of the adult population of the United States exercises the recommended 30 minutes a day.
What do this have to do with people leadership? Well, through my own experience working with a personal trainer, I’ve learned that staying fit requires 3 personal leadership behaviors:
To achieve long-lasting, successful results in anything in your personal or professional life, you must have a vision. One of my favorite Bible quotes is Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” because it demonstrates that nothing can live without a vision of some kind. Vision is the “why” behind an action. It is the purpose that drives you to act and move forward without making excuses or worrying about limitations. For me, my purpose for working out is not because I should; for me, “shoulds” are always deterrents for positive progress. Instead, I work out so I will look fit, feel fit, and have the energy to live each day to its fullest until I am 110 years old. Don’t get me wrong—there are days that I don’t work out because I am too busy or just don’t want to. But those days never last long, because I know I cannot live up to my vision without my physical fitness.
#2: Build a team.
I have to confess, even with vision, I am not disciplined enough to work out on my own. I have tried gyms, home videos, and group classes numerous times, but none of these methods have proven to have staying power. But instead of letting this laziness/lack of self-discipline/whatever you want to call it stop me, I changed tacks and built myself a physical fitness team. At the moment, that “team” consists only of a personal trainer, but at different points it has also included group fitness teachers, massage therapists, and yoga instructors. These experts provide me with direction, continuously push me to do perform at higher levels, and encourage me along the way. For the last three years, for example, my trainer and I have met 3–5 days a week via Skype to ensure I am meeting my exercise goals and long-term vision. If you feel you cannot afford a personal trainer, keep in mind that in today’s day and age there are a lot of electronic trainers and programs that are very affordable and can be highly effective.
#3: Be accountable.
For me, being accountable is about commitment and persistence. In order to do that I not only need a positive mindset, I also need an accountability partner. That is another role that my personal trainer plays for me. I feel guilty when I don’t work out—not because my trainer shames me but because I want to make him proud of me. High-performing people need someone in their life who will push them to remain persistent and committed, especially when they are feeling less motivated to act.
These 3 behaviors—having a vision, building a team, and being accountable—help keep me physically fit, but I’ve found that they are equally as important for me in my role as a leader. And the added bonus? When I work out I am more energetic and productive, I have more brainpower, and I feel better about myself—all of which sets a great example for those around me.
Reflection Question: Do you consider yourself physically fit? How could working out benefit you and your team members?