Your house requires upkeep. Your car requires periodic service. Your teeth require cleaning. The list goes on and on. Essentially, everything we are surrounded by requires some form of maintenance to preserve top performance. Leadership is no different, and there are a myriad of very good self-help books available to assist in establishing habits conducive to more effective leadership. Less frequent are guidelines on establishing “Self Rewards” that fortify leadership.
As background, a leader is always faced with multiple, simultaneous situations – an easy scenario is to think of instructing/working with your team, and then an hour later negotiating with an outside party regarding a business deal. This is all in the course of a day’s work that oftentimes includes several other events, not to mention those involved in your own personal/family life. Inevitably, some of the situations encountered throughout the day come out negative (but generally not irretrievably in the leader’s mind). The target balance of the day (week, month, year etc.) is to have more positive outcomes than negative.
Running parallel to this is the fact that many situations that leaders encounter are partially out of their control – e.g., they require the results from an experiment/test or a sign-off from the suit across the table. This is not a bad thing, and viewed positively, it is the result of the years of hard work needed to even get into the situation in the first place. However, waiting on results, or hearing the occasional no, leads to frustration, stress and uncertainty, all of which are not good leadership characteristics. Moreover, if not addressed, some of these negative characteristics may find a stronger foothold and create a long-term downward spiral affecting the overall balance mentioned above.
A means of correcting these situations is to give yourself something daily that you can automatically put in the “Win Column”. Quite simply, there are very few things in life over which we have exclusive control. Identify these things and use them exclusively to your benefit. Common between virtually all adults is control over what they eat and how they spend their “active” time. Each of these is the personal choice of the individual – rarely is one actually instructed to “eat bad, or “lay around”. The flipside is that these two components of health actually reach beyond the physical in the that they are mentally rewarding; first in the knowledge that you are doing something positive for yourself and later by seeing gains in health.
So, in a simple way, introducing regular practices over which you have control – and are rewarding on multiple levels – is a form of preparedness. Such preparedness, even though seemingly on completely unrelated topics, becomes a component of the greater foundation essential to being a leader.