Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

When Are You At Your Best?

October 28, 2010 4 comments

Leading YourselfLeading yourself well sets you up to lead others well. Part of leading yourself is knowing when and where you’re at your best. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you plan weeks in advance or wait til the last minute? Are you inspired by nature or energized by the city?

Here’s a list of 10 things I know bring out the best in me. Do I need all ten to be my best? Not necessarily. But if I go too long without any of these my performance starts to tank.

1. Shower & Shave. I get more great ideas in the shower than in any other place on earth. I don’t know why and I don’t care – it just works. And not shaving makes me feel lazy – unless I’m in the wild, then it makes me feel manly.

2. Time Outside. I develop cabin fever quickly. Rain, snow or sunshine it doesn’t matter – I’ve got to get out of the house or office frequently or my mind starts to cave in on itself.

3. Exercise. The pain, the endorphins, the sense of accomplishment. It makes me feel more alive, active and alert throughout the day.

4. Good Food. Irregular or unhealthy eating (usually due to traveling) cause me to lose focus and energy. I find that when I eat well, I lead well.

5. Water. Cold and clear, it’s by far my favorite drink (lucky me). I get headaches and lose clarity when I’m dehydrated. When I drink enough, I also eat less (but I do go to the bathroom more!).

6. Sleep. Not too much, not too little. For me, 6-8 hours is optimum. More than that and I start to drag throughout the day. Less than that and I get irritable and my decision-making is impaired.

7. Play. I’m serious about having fun. I don’t schedule play, I let it into everything. Fun makes everything better. Ideas, relationships, solutions, meetings, workshops, learning – they’re all enhanced by fun.

8. Time alone. I’m an introvert in an extroverted job. I’m also married to an amazing, extroverted woman. I schedule – and defend – my time alone to recharge. If I don’t, I’m no use to my family, my colleagues or my clients.

9. Tidy workspace. This I have to work at. I’m not a naturally organized individual, but I know how much a visually de-cluttered space improves the quality and efficiency of my work.

10. Tidy Mind. Ideas and thoughts stream through my mind at broadband speeds all the time. I must have a system to record everything – get it out of my head – so I can fully focus on what I’m doing at any given moment. My current system uses Things, Evernote, and a Moleskine journal.

What about you? When are you at your best?

5 Leadership Lessons from the Miners’ Rescue in Chile

October 14, 2010 7 comments

Leadership Lesson Yesterday evening, the last of the 33 Chilean miners who spent 69 days trapped almost half a mile underground walked out a free man. The ordeal these men have endured – along with the herculean effort to save them – has captivated the world. So many people, both in the mine and on the surface, did so much right to bring us the happy ending we experienced last night. Here are five lessons we can learn from their exceptional leadership:

1. Ask for help. Within hours of discovering the 33 miners were alive on August 22nd , the Chilean government sought out the foremost experts and best equipment in the world to arrange a rescue operation. Companies and agencies from South Africa, Canada, and the U.S. were involved in the drilling. Zephyr Technology provided chest straps that measured the miners’ vitals while UPS coordinated the movement of over 25 tons of construction equipment. Even NASA got involved, aiding in the design of the rescue capsule and consulting with Chilean doctors on the mental health of the miners.

2. Care for the whole person. The trapped miners were cared for physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. During their two month ordeal they had regular routines, group meetings, even chapel services. They worked together in shifts, were organized into three-man buddy teams, and made a rule that no one eats until everyone received their food. The outside world cared for them as well providing laundry service and positive TV programming. They also cared for them by refusing their request for cigarettes and wine. Everything was engineered to support their spirit and guard against collapse.

3. Lead by example. Mario Gómez, the eldest at 62, became the group’s inspirational leader. He served as the liaison with the surface and provided spiritual support to the others. As he lived out his hope, others followed. Another senior miner, Luis Urzúa, 54, was the group’s managing leader. He was the one who tightly rationed the group’s limited food and water for the 17 days before they were discovered by the outside world. As their leader, he was also the last one to come out.

4. Be creative. No one had ever drilled a hole through 2,300 feet of rock and lowered a capsule down it to save 33 trapped souls. Creativity wasn’t an option, it was a necessity in this rescue. As a result, they came up with three plans: Plan A, Plan B, and Plan C. Because of time constraints, instead of starting with Plan A, then moving on to the others if it failed, they initiated them all simultaneously. In the end, it was Plan B that broke through first.

5. Celebrate victory. Each time that capsule rose out of the desert floor the exultant crowd burst into cheers. As it opened up and emancipated each beleaguered miner, the crowd roared all the more. Joining the celebration were many more people around the globe, watching the drama unfold live on their TV. The Chilean government was right to share this experience with the world. Not only does it show transparency, but it gives us all the chance to feel the hope of those miners and their families.

What will you take away from this amazing rescue?


Lead Yourself First

September 16, 2010 7 comments

Airplane Emergency CardShould the cabin lose pressure, oxygen masks will fall from the overhead compartment. Please place the mask over your nose and mouth before assisting children…or adults acting like children. – my JetBlue flight attendant

An airliner cruising at 30,000 ft experiences a rapid loss of pressurization. The air in the cabin thins from 15 PSI to less than 4 PSI in a matter of seconds. The overheads burst open and down come those famous yellow masks. People panic. The man in row 19, the one with the two kids, decides to help them first. While every other adult on the plane is scrambling to save themselves, he’s made the noble decision to save these children first.

The masks are a bit tangled, so it takes a little work to get them separated. Then the first child isn’t sitting calmly like the picture in the emergency card. And the strap isn’t even tight enough to stay on the child’s face. His fingers, which are turning blue-gray, start fumbling over the straps, and before he’s done with the task he becomes confused, disoriented and strangely euphoric. Oxygen-starved cells in his brain are ceasing to work properly. Hypoxia has set in. He’s useless.

Of course the drama ends when the flight attendant sees the situation and secures a mask over everyone’s face in row 19. She’s quick and the life-giving air brings everyone back to normal consciousness with no permanent damage done. Before you start to judge the man who “tried to be a hero”, consider these questions:

How do this man’s actions relate to how you lead?

What do you do to ensure you’re fit to lead/serve others?

What do you struggle the most with in this area?

Rest Smarter – Lead Smarter

December 29, 2009 4 comments

Leadership Rest Beyond books and seminars and courses, the best road to becoming a better leader is self-reflection. As 2009 comes to a close, I’m looking back on my year to find the biggest leadership lesson I’ve learned.

The Answer? I need to rest smarter.

It’s been a full year at work and home. At work we soft-launched our new brand and debuted several new services. At home, the arrival of our daughter in June literally doubled the number of children in our home. Among the added responsibilities, more than once I felt like I was not enough.

Too often I filled the gap by cheating on my rest. I’m not saying the occasional late night or early morning isn’t warranted – or even necessary. It’s when lack of rest becomes the norm and not the exception that your efficiency and effectiveness as a leader begins to diminish significantly.

Bottom line: when I don’t rest well, I’m not the best leader I can be – at work or at home. Here are some lessons I’ve learned about resting:

1. Rest your body. Get the right amount of sleep: not too much, not too little. Maintain your schedule as much as possible: if you travel for short periods of time, stay up late or get up early to maintain your rhythms as much as possible. Keep exercising: you’ll sleep better!

2. Rest your mind. Rest isn’t just the absence of physical work – you must rest your mind as well. Quiet all your scheming and planning. Don’t check your email. Take a break from worrying and thinking. Build a reliable system to hold your thoughts and trust capable people to handle things while you are away. You’ll return mentally refreshed and ready to think!

3. Rest your heart. How you think and act as a leader are important, but – at its core – your leadership comes from your heart. Like your body and mind, your heart needs exercise and rest to remain healthy. How you rest your heart is unique to you. Some need time alone, others need time with friends or family, still others pour themselves into a hobby. However you do it, make time to rest and restore your heart. You’ll need it to lead well!

What have I missed – what tips do you have for resting smarter?

Successful Failures

September 15, 2008 Leave a comment

Three times during my training I have failed to run the full distance I had planned to run. I learned an important lesson from each of these “failures” and each has made me a better, more confident runner.

19 July 08. Goal: 8 miles. Actual: 5.5 miles. This run taught me a few things, not the least of which is that Google maps needs to update it’s satellite photo of Randall’s Island! After getting a late start, I ran over the bridge, and quickly discovered that the landscape was very different than I expected. A lot of construction on the island had changed a lot. I ran around as much as I could and on the way back up the steep ramp I died. My mouth was dry and I just couldn’t keep it up. So I learned:

– Having a plan and knowing where I am going is critical if my mind is going to win the war with my body. When I begin a run my body has agreed to the planned run and route. If for any reason the original terms of the contract are altered during the run (late start, route change, etc.), my body immediately considers that a breach of contract, and begins negotiating.

– Drink water—start drinking way before the morning of your run. Start hydrating the whole day prior. The water needs to be in your muscles during the run, not somewhere en route.

17 August 08: Goal: 14 miles. Actual: 11.5 miles. I had been on vacation in Colorado, so it had been a week since my last run. However, that last run had been my longest ever (12 miles) and was in Boulder, CO (over a mile above sea level). I planned to run two 2-mile loops then two 5-mile loops. I had to stop half-way through the last 5-mile loop. I was exhausted and parched. So I learned:

– Stay confident, but don’t get cocky. Despite the great high-altitude run the prior week, the fact was I hadn’t run in a week!

– Loops = bad. Psychologically bad for three reasons. 1) I was too close to home too many times, too tempting. 2) No sense of getting anywhere, just running to run as opposed to getting somewhere. 3) It just gets boring.

– For runs over 10 miles, I need to be able to hydrate during the run.

6 September 08: Goal: 20 miles. Actual: 19.5 miles. Because of constraints on my planning time I had to end my long run not at my house but with a final 1/2 mile loop in the park. In addition to the psychological no-go, I was also parched when I got there. So I learned.

– Finish long runs at a finish line, not a loop right next to your house, dummy!

– Though I had hydrated well before and during the run, I didn’t have access to a sports drink to replenish lost electrolytes. For runs over 17 miles I must be hydrating with water and sports drinks during the run.

Categories: Leadership Tags: , ,

Just Do It

September 13, 2008 Leave a comment

I love detail-oriented people…I’m just not one of them. I’ve been reminded of this recently in my training for the Chicago Marathon.

I really dove in to the preparation with both feet. I got a hold of a few training plans online and fashioned a plan that would go well with my busy schedule. I found a website where I could plan my routes on a google map and I planned 1, 2, 3, and 5 mile routes nearby that I could combine as necessary for different mileage. I bought an armband holder for my iPod shuffle so I could listen to tunes as I ran. I talked to the runners I know about what to expect; I asked for their advice. And despite all this work, I discovered that there is one thing I couldn’t get around; one thing that I absolutely had to do.


It was during one of my early runs that it hit me. “This sucks,” my body told me as I trudged out the last few miles home. “I don’t like it.” Though I still have my hard miles and even hard runs, I have learned to enjoy the training quite a bit. The visceral sense of accomplishment when I finish a 2-3 hour run is amazingly real. But its the tough miles that make the satisfaction so sweet.

And in those moments when my body is pleading with me to stop, my big-picture brain doesn’t help. Telling my aching body that I only have eight or nine miles to go just doesn’t cut it. In those moments all I can do is find that part of my brain that likes the details and lives in the present. In other words, I have to concentrate on running. Left. Right Left. Right. Keep moving forward. It will get better, not by stopping, but by running through it.

Life is like that sometimes. Sure, sometimes you’ve got to call it, and it’s the wise thing to quit. But most of the time, the way out of pain is through it, to keep moving forward. Pain isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a thing, part of life, a blessing of being alive.

Categories: Leadership Tags: ,