30
Jun
08

Gotta take care of you

Being the leader of a business pretty much means that you live in a perpetual pressure cooker. You’ve got stuff coming at you from all sides while juggling a dozen business balls. You’re constantly thinking about cash flow, making sales goals, employee issues and delivering world-class service to customers. You’re even trying to understand the thinking of that one employee who invests more time and energy figuring out how to avoid work – and is still looking for a raise. Yes, it’s controlled craziness and it’s all part of the leadership game.
But here’s the catch. When all this day-in-day-out craziness eventually becomes the norm, the stress can take its toll on both your mental and physical health. I know because it happened to me last year. I was fried and out of gas. I needed a break. So much so, with the support of my team, I took a three-month sabbatical from June through August. The very first thing I did was read a book called Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, MD. Following the book’s recommendations, I committed to going to the gym every day rather than my usual every other day. Wow, within a week I could feel a difference.
After a few weeks, I decided to kick it up a notch and started doing spin class in addition to weight training. I thought I was going to die at that first spin class – but kept going back. Since I live in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley and Long Island Sound area, I decided to buy a road bike to enjoy my workouts outside. I did 10 miles, then 20, and worked up to 30 miles per ride. Six months later on New Year’s Eve, I had racked up 901 miles on that bike. During the winter, I did spin class four to five times a week. On weekends, I worked out on my bike mounted on a trainer. And if the temperature went over 40 degrees, I’d go for a 30-mile ride.
I was hooked. Last April, I bought a carbon fiber road bike. Three weeks ago, I did my first 75-mile ride. Tomorrow, July 28th, at 7:30am, I’ll begin a 150-mile ride for MS from Boston Harbor to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. (In the process, I raised $5,600 for MS.) As you read this Monday Morning Wake-Up, I hope to be basking in the glory of my personal victory of completing a successful ride.
So what’s the point of all this? At 58 years old, I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m more productive and more on top of my game than at any other time in my career. My thinking is clear and I have the energy to do what ever comes my way. My attitude is purely positive. Strategies is having our best year in its 15-year history. Problems don’t wreck me – I wreck them with action.
It all began with a commitment to take care of me so I can take care of everyone and everything else. Working out is key to managing stress. (A fine wine or a Bombay Sapphire doesn’t hurt either.) If you say that you don’t have the time to workout, my response is simple, “Stop compromising. You’ll have the time if you make time.” No compromise.
And here’s what makes it all worth the effort. In the past year, more people have said to me, “You look great, you look younger.” Younger next year – that was my goal. This no-compromise stuff works.
Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.
Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO

cycling2Being the leader of a business pretty much means that you live in a perpetual pressure cooker. You’ve got stuff coming at you from all sides while juggling a dozen business balls. You’re constantly thinking about cash flow, making sales goals, employee issues and delivering world-class service to customers. You’re even trying to understand the thinking of that one employee who invests more time and energy figuring out how to avoid work – and is still looking for a raise. Yes, it’s controlled craziness and it’s all part of the leadership game.

But here’s the catch. When all this day-in-day-out craziness eventually becomes the norm, the stress can take its toll on both your mental and physical health. I know because it happened to me last year. I was fried and out of gas. I needed a break. So much so, with the support of my team, I took a three-month sabbatical from June through August. The very first thing I did was read a book called Younger Next Year by Chris Crowley and Henry S. Lodge, MD. Following the book’s recommendations, I committed to going to the gym every day rather than my usual every other day. Wow, within a week I could feel a difference.

After a few weeks, I decided to kick it up a notch and started doing spin class in addition to weight training. I thought I was going to die at that first spin class – but kept going back. Since I live in the beautiful Connecticut River Valley and Long Island Sound area, I decided to buy a road bike to enjoy my workouts outside. I did 10 miles, then 20, and worked up to 30 miles per ride. Six months later on New Year’s Eve, I had racked up 901 miles on that bike. During the winter, I did spin class four to five times a week. On weekends, I worked out on my bike mounted on a trainer. And if the temperature went over 40 degrees, I’d go for a 30-mile ride.

I was hooked. Last April, I bought a carbon fiber road bike. Three weeks ago, I did my first 75-mile ride. Tomorrow, July 28th, at 7:30am, I’ll begin a 150-mile ride for MS from Boston Harbor to Provincetown at the tip of Cape Cod. (In the process, I raised $5,600 for MS.) As you read this Monday Morning Wake-Up, I hope to be basking in the glory of my personal victory of completing a successful ride.

So what’s the point of all this? At 58 years old, I’m in the best shape of my life. I’m more productive and more on top of my game than at any other time in my career. My thinking is clear and I have the energy to do what ever comes my way. My attitude is purely positive. Strategies is having our best year in its 15-year history. Problems don’t wreck me – I wreck them with action.

It all began with a commitment to take care of me so I can take care of everyone and everything else. Working out is key to managing stress. (A fine wine or a Bombay Sapphire doesn’t hurt either.) If you say that you don’t have the time to workout, my response is simple, “Stop compromising. You’ll have the time if you make time.” No compromise.

And here’s what makes it all worth the effort. In the past year, more people have said to me, “You look great, you look younger.” Younger next year – that was my goal. This no-compromise stuff works.

Pass this email on to your business colleagues, managers and friends They’ll appreciate it.

Neil Ducoff, Strategies founder & CEO and author of No-Compromise Leadership

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