Bill Clinton used to say it is the ‘economy’ stupid when it came to politics.I have come to realise a similar thing when it comes to leadership and personal development.  Except it is not reading books, blogs or writing journals.  It is fitness.

The more I observe people the more I am convinced of this. Those who have a sport where they can get their heart rate going or who regularly go for a run, ride or gym consistently appear to be more balanced, healthy and focused.  Exercise seems to be just as important for the mind as it is for the body.Why does fitness make a difference?  I am not a doctor so this is just my point of view and my own experience.  But for me it is a couple of reasons:

  • Fitness seems to do something chemically in our body that makes us feel good.   It burns off stress and clears your mind so that you can concentrate and remain objective, positive and balanced.
  • It recognises a balanced approach to achievement and self-actualisation.    I.e. that achievement and self-actualisation is about the whole person and not just what you do at work.  This makes you more complete and flows through to your engagement with others.
  • As a leader you are a role model, and if you are committed to safety and well-being then you need to take the lead.  What you do is more important than what you say, so if you can’t take care of yourself then how you expect your team to take care of themselves.

Fitness builds positive mind-set, resilience and balance which are critical elements to sustainable and constructive leadership.

This is not to say that reading books, studying, achieving your goals, playing with the kids, or teaching aren’t important in our journey to self-actualisation.  They are extremely important.

However, when you prioritise your time, make sure exercise is number one on your list.