Friday, February 03, 2006

Looking after yourself, part 4: why all this is important

You might be wondering why I've spent the last four days sharing my experiences and advice on looking after your through and .

I believe how you look after yourself is an integral part of being able to lead others.

Would you be willingly led by a cocaine addict? I wouldn't. What makes that different from a chocolate addict? Or a caffeine addict? Just degrees of magnitude.

I'm sounding like a freak here because I'm trying to make a point. What you put into your body, and how you treat it, reflect how you feel about yourself, and how well you look after others.

Of course, this brings up big questions about definitions. What is leadership?

Is leadership simply 'getting the job done', as seems to be the de facto definition in politics and business today? If so, who cares if you're a chain-smoking, whisky-swilling glutton - as long as you achieve the objective. Such a man was Winston Churchill, whom I greatly admire. But I don't think that style of leadership will survive the demands of the 21st century.

I believe that 21st century leadership will have both 'fathers' and 'mothers'. Traditionally the father is the one who introduces the child to the wider world, to risk, and to adventure. God knows we need fathers, and good ones at that.

But we also need good 'mothers' - the nurturers, protecters and carers. And in saying this I'm not trying to tie down people to gender roles - I believe an individual can learn the lessons of both 'motherhood' and 'fatherhood', although they may tend towards one direction.

The message for organisations now is sustainability. Traditionally that makes us think of the environment, but it's just as urgent for people - 'human resources'.

So learning how to sustainably use our own personal resources - through good diet and through exercise - will help us as we endeavour to lead those around us.

Does this mean that only trim, slim saints who walk every day qualify for the top jobs. Heavens no. But having a healthy, balanced personal life sure gives you an advantage in getting the job done, and helping everyone involved reach their potential.


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