Leadership Health: Tough Choices

Leaders deal with tough choices all the time. But when it comes to their own health, they are often self-defeating and self-deceiving! I don’t buy the excuse that some of us don’t have time for exercise. Or the excuse that we don’t really need to or can’t reduce our stress levels. Here’s why:

It all comes down to priorities and choices, doesn’t it? If your health is a priority, you will pay attention to it.

The problem is that many of my clients and people I work with are seeking “balance.” Balance is a myth, a ruse, something that angst-ridden Boomers came up with to carp about the fact that they missed their kid’s little league game.

Balance implies that we add things, but also take things away. There is no such thing as balance, just as there is no such thing as time management. There is only our ability to manage our priorities within the time we have—the same 24 hours that everyone else has.

In my coaching practice, I use four concepts: Clarity, Intention, Attitude and Focused Behavior.

  • Clarity means understanding in no uncertain terms what is important to us, what we want.
  • Intention is taking the time to plan, to write up goals or WAYPOINTs.
  • Attitude is the base level habit of thought that drives you or keeps you where you are.
  • Behavior is the outward expression of our inward attitudes.

Being clear allows us to manage our distractions, because distractions often masquerade as opportunities. It allows us to say “no” to those things that are not important. Being clear leads to focused behavior. It all starts with knowing what we want…and then we can go after what we want.

Health is one of those weird things in our attitudes. We tend to lie to ourselves how healthy we are and exaggerate how much we practice healthy habits. We tell ourselves we are bulletproof, that we have time to work on it, but we do have an expiration date.

I had a stroke in March of last year. I was the perfect picture of a stroke victim–55 years old, high BP, diabetic, extremely overweight. I kept telling myself that I was too busy to pay attention to my health—and then the stroke hit. Let me assure you that there is something worse than dying.

Health became a priority for me. All of a sudden, I became really clear that I had to work myself back to health. In the 10 months since the stroke, I have lost 70+ pounds (40 more to go), walk every day, become a vegetarian and avoid bread, unnecessary carbs and processed foods, and I’m starting to feel wonderful. When I started, I could hardly walk around the block. Now I walk 5-10 miles per day. Health is the most important priority.

We all have choices. We may not think so, but we all have choices. We choose to live the life we are living. We choose to work for abusive bosses, we choose to be in unfulfilling relationships, we choose to ignore our bodies. If we choose to not exercise, we think we are just choosing to put it off, but the reality is that we are choosing to be unhealthy. We are choosing to have disease, maybe a heart attack or a stroke, either now or in a few years.

  • What are some different choices you can make?
  • What priorities are you absolutely crystal clear on, are willing to plan out, work on your attitude for and focus your behavior and act in new ways?
  • What is really important?

I’d love to hear from you, leave a comment.

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