Forgive me for stating the obvious here but, for any person who wants to emerge as a leader in any organization, tremendous self-discipline is a required trait. I think it is also true that even the best leaders will stumble from time to time. The question is, can we realistically admit it, take it seriously as a stumble, forgive ourselves and move on? Or do we brush it off and continue on a path that makes the stumble become the new routine.
Even a stumble at home can affect your best of intentions for leadership at work.
I’ll use myself as the example. My story isn’t necessarily about business leadership here but about what can happen if you don’t recognize and course correct quickly. And the consequences of not course correcting.
This morning was my “wake up call” to write on this topic. Ironically the “wake up call” was the fact that I turned off my alarm and fell back to sleep only to wake up in a panic and get moving. I got up and around and made it out the door in time to drop my daughter at school on time. So what’s the big deal right? The big deal is that I have one alarm set for 6 a.m. and another for 6:30.
I’ve been trying for a couple months to train my body to get up earlier for a workout before I head to the office. The 6:30 alarm is my backup in case I blow through the earlier one. And I’m trying to set it 15 minutes earlier per week until I’m up at 5 and on the treadmill by 5:15. Except I don’t. Now I’ve fallen into the habit of simply turning off the 6 o’clock and relying on the 6:30 to get up. Why? Lack of self-discipline that starts the night before.
Wait. What? Where is this story going? I also have alarms on my phone telling me to shut it down and go read for 30 minutes from 10:30 to 11 pm. And lights out at 11 pm. But I’m failing here too. I find myself “unwinding” by scrolling through Facebook or Twitter and I ignore the very alarms I set for myself to get a good night’s sleep. So now I don’t even find myself heading upstairs until 11:45 or midnight. Going to bed that late makes it inherently difficult to get up in the morning. See where this is going?
I fancy myself a leader but I am not being effective at leading myself. Who would be inspired to follow someone like that? I’m not a big fan of Shakespeare but to quote Polonius in Hamlet, “To thine own self be true.”
So with apologies to recovery programs, the first step to overcoming it is to admit it. But can I take myself seriously? Will I really do it. Time will tell.
And this particular of sleeping patterns isn’t the only area where I need to lead myself. Over the past several years, my weight has continued on an upward trend. Since 2010, I’ve gained about 45 or 50 lbs. And I was about 15 pounds overweight then. Add it up. Now here I am, overweight by 60 lbs and my health is showing it.
Again, I did it to myself. For history, I did have major knee surgery 4 years ago. And I also have a very painful bunion that makes running or anything on my feet painful. But those are excuses. I can’t use the knee and an excuse anymore. It has been fully healed for 3 ½ years. Time to stop whining. I’ve also had some tough stuff happen personally that affected my psyche. But I’ve always found exercise to be a stress reliever. So why did I get away from it? Pure laziness and lack of self-discipline. Again, my own fault.
So oversleeping today was the metaphorical wake up call. Driving in to the office today I was irritated and angry with myself and here I am. Sharing for the world Putting my irritation on paper.
It’s a powerful reminder of what I want for myself and how I am self-sabotaging my own goals.
I’m hitting rewind and going back to New Year’s Eve to revisit my thoughts from that day. New day, New Year, new start.
It’s time to take back my life.
I’ve set some pretty ambitious goals for myself for 2016 to retake my health. Some may find them unattainable but, if broken into bite size chunks, I do think they are reachable. Are they BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)? Absolutely. My mentality is even if I fall short but make progress, am I still not better off than I was on 12/31/15?
My goal is to lose 60 lbs. There. It’s out there. If I don’t share, nobody will push me or hold me accountable. It is attainable? 60 lbs sounds like a lot. But broken out, it is 5 lbs per month or 1.15 lbs per week. Sounds a lot more attainable doesn’t it. And “just” 1.15 pounds per week is well within medical recommendations.
And tonight I’m following my alarms and going to be earlier. A good night’s sleep is healthy too right? I have to have the mentality and self-discipline to get myself up for early exercise. I have too many evening commitments to maintain a pace of 45 minutes to a hour of treadmill or bike per night.
Studies have shown that those who have a healthy morning routine are much more productive throughout the day. And mentally, knowing I have an hour of exercise already done will work to take some guilt-stress out of my evenings. I beat myself up mentally if I can’t get exercise. This will alleviate that.
How does all this impact my leadership? Let me count the ways. A healthy me is a more productive me. A more productive me is a more focused me. A more focused me is a less stressed me. A less stressed me is a more authentic and happier me because I’m not hiding my baggage. A happier me is easier to approach and more communicative to my team. It is all a trickle down effect.
Thank you for reading and participating in the confession. It has been a catharsis for me. What about you? What self-discipline stumbles are preventing you from being the best leader you can be? Please share your thoughts.