6 Habits of Healthy Leaders
Success is more than our achievements. If there’s one thing we’re aware of in this new era, it’s the means to the end.
We’ve expanded the definition of “success” to include impact and awareness, and leaders who embody this new definition all have one thing in common: a healthy mindset. Leaders don’t achieve this mindful, healthy perspective accidentally—they’ve cultivated this philosophy.
These 6 habits are a common thread in the lives of healthy leaders.
Remember that booklet by Charles Hummel, written in the 1960s called Tyranny of the Urgent? Hummel shines a light on our human instinct to give too much attention to the urgent tasks rather than the important ones. Little did he know how pertinent that argument would be in the 21st century. Does not every task feel urgent when we are constantly reachable?
Treat yourself kindly and don’t jump right into the rushing waters every day. Begin with a plan. If you’re concerned about those “urgent” tasks, then plan some buffer time! But plan anyway, and then follow through.
2. Eliminate Clutter
As the wise Sheryl Crow sings: "It is not having what you want, it's wanting what you've got."
“Stuff” is infinitely accessible and cheap. We’ve all seen the families whose lives have been enveloped by their possessions, and we cheer with relief when they can start fresh in an organized and minimal environment. It goes without saying that we need to be mindful of our possessions.
Healthy leaders eliminate the invisible clutter, too: uncanceled memberships, forgotten RSVPs, and most of all—they let go of the guilt that comes with all they have chosen NOT to do. This healthy practice allows them to have a single focus on what they can achieve with their days.
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3. Choose Gratitude
The muscle of gratitude is built by appreciation...by seeing. The perspective gained with an attitude of appreciation will impact every decision a healthy leader makes.
There are endless ways to practice the art of seeing. Try one of these:
- Start a “Gratitude” note on your phone, adding just a short comment every night.
- Make a habit of expressing appreciation for your family while you’re together at breakfast, dinner or even in the car.
- Instead of a typical #tbt (Throwback Thursday) photo, post a Thankful Thursday message—bonus if it also happens to go with your #tbt photo!
4. Reflect and Evaluate
Different than planning, mindful leaders know the secret to make the most of their time: reflection and evaluation. They don’t let themselves live on autopilot, but invest the time to look back on their productivity and success, and adjust accordingly.
We like the practical philosophy of Zdravko Cvijetic at Thrive Global:
“...before you go to bed, give yourself a goal to evaluate your day and what can be improved the next day. Not only this but every couple of months you should take a day or two to evaluate your plans. To see what delivers results, and what needs to be cut. Then, adapt your plan and don’t be afraid to pivot if necessary.”
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5. Make Time For Play
This doesn’t mean formal exercise, rather any physical activity that elevates your mood. Play boosts endorphins and reduces stress hormones. Without the balance of work and play, even the healthiest of leaders will hit the wall.
The scientific explanation for the importance of physical activity for children is eerily applicable to the reasoning for adults, too! Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, Professor of Developmental Psychology at New York University, explains to NBC News that: “Children that aren’t allowed to play experience a loss of self-motivation and they run the risk of burn-out.”
Healthy leaders know how to avoid burn-out, and making time for play is a part of that recipe.
6. Create a morning ritual
We aren’t going to tell you how to spend your morning. Everyone needs something different to start off with the best mindset possible. Some meditate, some exercise, some drink coffee and watch birds. Figure out what works for you and do it!
We particularly like the morning ritual of the $100-bill Founding Father, who asked himself: “What good shall I do on this day?”
If that question drives our days, we can reflect and evaluate (see #4) proudly. It certainly is a good place to start.
Start Habit-Building Today
Incorporate these habits into your life one at a time, settling into your version of these healthy habits. Your body, mind and business will all thank you.