Leadership Update is a free monthly newsletter by David A. Weiman, Psy. D. and www.leadershipfirst.com. In it, you’ll find strategies for helping you realize your full professional potential. Please feel free to forward unedited copies of this newsletter.
- Quotable: They Said It
- Leadership Life: To Your Health!
- Guest Feature: The Science of Visualization
- Now an E-Book: Managing Stress
- Readers’ Forum: Your Observations
- Subscription Information
Quotable: They Said It
“If you work just for money, you’ll never make it, but if you love what you’re doing and you always put the customer first, success will be yours.”
– Ray Kroc
“Did you ever notice that the first piece of luggage on the carousel never belongs to anyone?”
– Erma Bombeck
LEADERSHIP LIFE: TO YOUR HEALTH!
The April 25 issue of Newsweek magazine published a story in its “Periscope” section on executive health. The piece recalled the difficulty McDonald’s faced recently when, about a year ago, McDonald’s CEO Jim Cantalupo, 60, died of a heart attack. The McDonald’s board named his deputy, Charlie Bell, as his successor. But just a few weeks later, Bell was diagnosed with colon cancer, and he died a few months after that.
Not surprisingly, in the aftermath of these back-to-back deaths, the trend has been for corporations (and executive search firms) to begin looking closer at the health of the people they’re considering for top jobs. Leaving aside the legality of inspecting someone’s health at the pre-hire stage, it does raise awareness of the fact that being in good physical (and emotional) health is critical not just for the CEOs of giant corporations, but for anyone in an executive, professional or managerial position.
Life at or near the top of any organization makes unusually high demands on you. And the more physically fit you are, the better able you will be to energetically get through your day, and to handle the stresses and strains of life as a leader.
Here are some suggestions to make sure you’re able to perform at your peak:
- Get an annual physical exam. Don’t wait until you have symptoms to go to the doctor. When you go for your physical, make sure your physician understands the nature of your position so that he can pay particular attention to any warning signs that might affect your long term good health.
- Put regular exercise into your schedule. Make it a priority. Many people enjoy it in the morning because it helps them “jump start” the day. Others prefer it at night because it helps them de-stress. Some even go to the gym during lunch, shower, and then return to work ready for the afternoon. Whatever the case, put it in your calendar.
- Take martial arts classes, yoga, or other nontraditional forms of exercise. These methods often engage your mind and body in novel ways that refocus you away from the workday. In the best schools, you can take one or two classes to experience the art form and see which one is the best fit for you.
- Subscribe to a health and fitness magazine. Some, like Men’s Health, are focused on the issues of a specific gender. Others, like Runner’s World, focus on a specific activity. Either way, they can inspire you to begin a program, give you helpful tips to keep things interesting, and provide a great deal of helpful information along the way.
- Don’t eat at your desk, and don’t work while you’re eating. Separating eating from stressful activities, such as reviewing a balance sheet, is important. Why? Because stress interferes with normal digestion.
If you’re already doing some or all of these things, good for you! If not, consider what the risks are not just to your company or business, but to you and your family if you were to become ill from something that could have been avoided. Let’s set examples for those we lead, by leading as healthy a life as possible.
GUEST FEATURE: THE SCIENCE OF VISUALIZATION
By Stephen Kraus, Ph.D.
Visualization is a common self-improvement technique that goes by many names, including mental practice and covert rehearsal. Done properly, it can be an effective performance-enhancement technique with many benefits. Visualized behaviors can be practiced more quickly, easily, and frequently than actual behavior; as a complement to actual practice, for example, world-class athletes are routinely trained to visualize themselves performing well in competitive situations (in Golf My Way, Jack Nicklaus wrote, “I never hit a shot, not even in practice, without having a very sharp, in focus picture of it in my head. It’s like a color movie”).
Visualized behavior is often used in business and therapy to help individuals practice behavior that would be too frightening or intimidating to perform in reality. Salespeople who fear rejection perform better by visualizing themselves facing – and bouncing back from – rejection, and therapists ask phobic patients to visualize themselves facing their fears as a way of easing them into actually confronting those fears. Visualization is also beneficial for practicing behaviors that are too dangerous to perform in person, as when recovering alcoholics visualize themselves facing – and resisting – tempting situations such as parties or restaurants.
Visualization must be done properly to be effective. Improperly done, visualization can be a waste of time, or even worse, actually hamper performance. Research confirms that there are three keys to successful visualization.
1. Correct. Visualization will only improve performance if you are visualizing the appropriate behavior; conversely, visualizing incorrect behavior will hurt performance. For this reason, visualization tends to enhance the performance of elite athletes, but hamper the performance of less-skilled athletes because novices are likely to mentally practice the wrong skills (e.g., poor free throw shooting form in basketball). So until you have become relatively skilled, you are better off forgoing visualization and focusing on real practice, learning from skilled performers, taking lessons, getting training, etc.
2. Precise. Visualization must be precise, vivid and detailed to be effective. Envisioning broad ends, like “being richer” or “having less fear,” may temporarily boost your motivation, but focusing on the specific means for getting to those ends will offer far more benefits. Don’t envision “having a great sales year,” but instead envision yourself going to specific sales meetings, your actions in those meetings, the reactions of others, and how you will specifically overcome obstacles and persist in the face of rejection. Use all your senses – as you imagine the actions of others, consider how they might they might dress and the sounds of their voices. When visualization was used with the 1976 U. S. Olympic ski team, for example, precision and detail were crucial to the process: skiers visualized themselves careening through the entire course, experiencing each bump and turn in their minds. That team went on to an unexpectedly strong performance, and precise visualization has become a standard tool in the training of Olympic athletes.
3. Distributed. Visualization sessions are most effective when distributed over time, as opposed to being “bunched” into fewer, longer sessions. This is true for any kind of practice or preparation. For example, in preparing for a test, short bursts of studying distributed over time (e.g., one hour per night for four nights leads to better results than cramming (e.g., four hours in one night).
Dr. Stephen Kraus is one of the world’s foremost success scientists. Author of Psychological Foundations of Success: A Harvard-Trained Scientist Separates the Science of Success from Self-Help Snake Oil, Steve has a Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University. Steve can be reached at his web site: www.RealScienceOfSuccess.com.
ABOUT DR. WEIMAN
David A. Weiman, Psy. D. is a psychologist who specializes in executive assessment, development and consultation. For information or a confidential consultation, please call 610/642-3040.
333 East Lancaster Avenue, Suite 202
Wynnewood, PA 19096-1929
(610) 642-3040; Fax (610) 642-3041
NOW AN E-BOOK: Managing Stress
Do any of these things happen to you:
- You spend more than half of the day worrying about work?
- You can’t remember the last time that you took a vacation?
- It seems like everyone around you is trying to tell you that you’re overstressed?
- You try to work more hours to get ahead, but it doesn’t seem to help?
- You have regular difficulty falling asleep at night because you’re worried about the day you just had, or the one that’s coming up?
Almost every executive experiences these kinds of problems at one time or another, but if you experience them regularly, chances are that you’re overstressed. My new guide for executives, Managing Stress, covers what it is, how to recognize it, and how to manage it effectively. It is now available as an electronic book at my website, www.leadershipfirst.com/managingstress.htm. It’s a thorough, concise and practical guide based on my experience as an executive and as a psychologist.
Reader’s Forum: Your Observations
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