You may have seen him or her: the strong, well-built, self-assured business leader strutting onto the stage to deliver a dynamic keynote to a packed conference hall. Beneath that well-cut suit is a person who clearly works out.
Why is it that many of the people who lead top companies appear to be in great physical shape? Perhaps the question should be: Why do many successful business leaders also exude physical prowess and health?
It’s not just coincidence.
The connections between how you take care of your body and the way you nuture your business are too close and too important to ignore. The physical entity we call a human body and the legal entity we call a company are both vehicles that allow you to reach an end result. They are both cohesive networks of systems with rules and optimum conditions for success (read: health). And they both respond to your leadership.
So how can you leverage information gleaned from your body to improve your businesses?
1. Strategy. Like companies, bodies vary by shape and size, strengths and weaknesses and overall health and vigor. It’s critical for you to be aware of your body’s -- and company’s -- unique characteristics and needs, and that to use strategy in thought and action to achieve the results you seek.
When you approach your body from the point of view of strategy, you’re thinking about the best moves to strengthen it and avoid injury as well as the most nutritious foods for nourishment and health. You want results without side effects.
When you approach your business strategically, you’re considering the optimal ways to position it as unique and valuable, the most effective tools and systems to drive innovation and support vital processes, and the best ways to avoid problems.
In both cases, it’s important to be creative and nimble.
2. Energy. A critical yet often overlooked force for success, energy powers everything we do. And a high level of energy can drive greater productivity; clearer, more creative thinking and a host of other things critical for building a business.
It's no wonder that leaders like Apple’s Tim Cook, Nike’s Mark Parker and Senator Wendy Davis have made maintaining their physical health a nonnegotiable priority. Just as physical activity can improve brain function, inactivity has an equally tangible opposite effect, according to new research.
One study, published recently in The Journal of Comparative Neurology, found that a lack of physical activity in rats increased their risk for heart disease and altered the structure and operation of the brain. Inactivity caused the neurons to overstimulate the sympathetic nervous system and made the animals lethargic.
3. Time. Another element bound up in the quest for success is time. No one ever feels they have enough, but some people excel at exercising time management to their personal and professional advantage. Among the most ambitious, driven people are the ones rising earlier and exercising more. Publications including Entrepreneur have written about the fitness habits of successful people, such President Barack Obama.
But this is not about simply setting your alarm clock earlier and upping your bench press another 100 pounds. It's about prioritization and efficiency, consistency and discipline -- and passion.
Time is a precious and nonrenewable asset; use it well. When you’re in the gym, don’t waste time on exercises that won’t produce the desired results.
Apply that same thinking to business. Out of the 50 tasks you need to accomplish at work, determine which will give you the highest yield, both in the short and long term. Tackle those first. This approach is also important for your business goals.
Above all, enjoy the process. Identify the one exercise at the gym and the one task in business that give you the most joy. Then strategize to use these favorite activities to help you reach your goals faster and become stronger.
The principles upon which you can build a stronger, healthier body are the same ones that can help you build a lasting and vibrant business. Live by those principles and perhaps it will be you up on that stage next.