Be a Better Leader by Improving Your Health
Every good business owner knows that making smart investments can make or break a company. But when is the last time you thought about investing in yourself?
It’s a question that Jim Karas says people don’t ask enough. Karas, a personal trainer, motivational speaker and entrepreneur, believes the key to being a good leader is to invest in yourself, specifically how you take care of your mind and body.
“It’s all about small changes that illicit big results,” he said. “We’re all playing a juggling act. But with all these balls in the air, where is the ‘you’ ball? If it isn’t up there, you may start to fumble the other balls or even drop a few.”
Karas is a speaker at the upcoming BSCAI CEO Seminar, which takes place Jan. 23-25 in Aruba. He hopes to inspire attendees to start considering their overall health when they’re looking at being the best leader they can be.
“The more you invest in yourself, the more everyone benefits, both at work and home,” he said.
Sure, a good diet and exercise makes us look better, but it also makes us feel better. It seems like a no brainer—but it’s something many people ignore. What does it mean to be “healthier?” The concept can be daunting for those who are not always health conscious. Karas said it doesn’t have to be.
He said the easiest thing to do is look at your current habits and incorporate small changes. For example: What percentage of what you’re consuming is a fruit or vegetable? For 45% of Americans, it’s zero. Overhauling your entire diet right away isn’t sustainable. Instead consider something small, like eating an apple before your usual breakfast.
“If you began each day by eating an apple, how would you feel knowing the first thing you put in your body is something that’s going to give you more energy, make your smarter, increase your creativity and reduce stress?” Karas said. “What if that resonated the entire day—doing something that simple—how would that set you up psychologically for each day?”
There are other simple changes, too. Hydration is super important. The human body is made up of 60% water, and hydration regulates everything from our body temperature to our digestion. Karas said pledging to drink even 8 oz. of water can make you feel better – and smarter – as the brain is made up of 73% water.
The goal is to set realistic expectations of what you’re able to do and try to follow through on them. Karas said if your goal is to eat an apple and drink 8 oz. of water three mornings out of the week, if you’re able to hit that consistently, increase your goal. If you’re only able to do it twice a week, see how long you can do twice a week and go up to three when it becomes a habit.
“Apply progression,” he said. “It’s all about setting yourself up for success. I listen to people in my studio beat themselves up, ‘Oh, I ate this,’ or ‘Oh, I drank that.’ And I’m like, it’s done. It’s over. I can’t change what you ate or drank last night, but I can work on what you’re doing right now.”
Karas said people will be amazed at how a few small changes can make them feel better—both physically and mentally. For a person in a position of leadership, this can make them sharper, calmer and help boost their bottom line.
It can also affect their company culture in a positive way. Be a role model. A leader’s positive actions will motivate some employees to follow suit. Karas recommends offering fresh fruit or facilitating yoga and meditation sessions a few times a month.
“As a leader, you dictate the behavior and culture of an organization,” he said. “Have the right things available to your staff. If your staff sees you attempting and making small changes, it becomes somewhat infectious. When I meet a CEO who is taking good care of themselves, you see their top people are all in the same camp.”
As an entrepreneur, Karas knows the 24-hour cycle of running a business can be hard. But making small changes—even ones that take 10 minutes—can mean an entire lifestyle shift for the better.
“A cultural change for the better can start with one person,” he said. “I want everyone to have the tools to take back and implement in their personal lives, as well as their professional ones.”