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March 27, 2024

Building Your Best Self: Why a Strong Foundation Makes You a Growth Leader

As the Chief Growth Officer and Chief of Staff at HHS, I understand leadership's constant push and pull all too well. I've thrived in dynamic, stressful, and challenging roles throughout my career. But let me be honest – that focus came at a cost for a long time.

My Personal Wake-Up Call

Before a recent mentor opened my eyes, I constantly battled the pressure. My go-to coping mechanisms – unhealthy food choices, reliance on alcohol to unwind, and neglecting sleep – took a toll on my well-being. It wasn't just physical; I wasn't fully present for my family and friends, and my prioritization was all over the place.

This mentor, someone I deeply respect, stressed the importance of building a strong foundation outside of work. It was a turning point. I realized that to be the best leader I could be, I needed to prioritize my well-being.

A Strong Foundation Cultivates Peak Performance

Think of yourself as a skyscraper, a high-rise that can reach for the clouds. But without a solid foundation, the skyscraper is susceptible to crumbling. The same applies to our work. We can push for growth, but sustained excellence depends on a solid personal foundation.

Here's why prioritizing your well-being isn't selfish, it's strategic:

  • Sharpened Focus and Clarity: When well-rested and energized, your mind is sharper. You can tackle complex problems with greater focus and make more precise decisions. Consider doing this to refocus: schedule a mid-day walk to break up the work day and boost cognitive function.
  • Enhanced Resilience: Life throws curveballs. A strong foundation equips you to bounce back from setbacks and navigate challenges with a cool head—practice mindfulness techniques like meditation or deep breathing to cultivate inner calm during stressful times.
  • Improved Creativity: Disconnecting from work allows your mind to wander, fostering innovative ideas and fresh perspectives. Block out dedicated "unplugged" time each week where you can pursue hobbies or simply relax. This beneficial habit of unplugging allows your mind to decompress and make unexpected connections.
  • Inspired Leadership: Prioritizing your well-being sends a powerful message to your team. It demonstrates self-care and encourages them to do the same, fostering a healthier, more productive work environment. Lead by example: take breaks, encourage team members to use their vacation days, and openly discuss the importance of work-life balance.

How to Build Your Skyscraper: Five Tips for Leaders

1. Prioritize Physical Health

  • Schedule regular exercise: Find an activity you enjoy, whether it's a brisk walk, team sports, or a yoga class. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
  • Eat nourishing foods: Fuel your body with a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein. Pack healthy lunches and avoid sugary snacks throughout the day.
  • Get enough sleep: Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night. Create a bedtime routine and establish a consistent sleep schedule.

2. Nurture Your Mental Well-being

  • Practice mindfulness techniques: Meditation, deep breathing exercises, and spending time in nature can all help reduce stress and improve focus. Many apps and online resources are available to help you get started.
  • Unplug from work emails in the evenings and on weekends: Set boundaries between work and personal life. Designate specific times to check work emails and resist the urge to respond outside those hours.
  • Seek professional help when needed: Don't hesitate to seek professional help from a therapist or counselor if you're struggling with stress, anxiety, or other mental health challenges.

3. Invest in Relationships

  • Make time for loved ones: Schedule regular quality time with your spouse, partner, children, or close friends. Put away your phone and be fully present during these moments.
  • Build strong social connections: Expand your social circle by joining clubs, volunteering in your community, or attending industry events. Strong social connections provide a sense of belonging and support.
  • Cultivate a support system: Surround yourself with positive and encouraging people who will be there for you through thick and thin.

4. Pursue Passions

  • Dedicate time to hobbies and activities that bring you joy: Whether it's painting, playing music, reading, or gardening, make time for activities that help you relax and recharge.
  • Learn a new skill: Challenge yourself by taking a class or learning a new skill. This keeps your mind stimulated and fosters a growth mindset.

5. Embrace Continuous Learning

  • Never stop exploring new interests or acquiring new skills: Take advantage of online courses, attend industry conferences, or read books on interesting topics. This keeps you up-to-date in your field and fosters a sense of curiosity.

Remember, you are not a machine. You are a human being, and your well-being is paramount. By building a solid foundation outside of work, you'll be better equipped to lead your team, achieve ambitious goals, and reach new heights.

Let's all be growth leaders who prioritize our well-being because a strong foundation leads to a successful and fulfilling journey for ourselves and those we lead.

Tag(s): Leadership

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