Last week I had my annual wellness exam. That is always a time of reflection for me. I am called back and the nurse runs through the normal process of taking a look all of the vitals. Next comes the dreaded blood work (I do not like needles!). Then you wait…and finally you get to see the doctor and then all the fun begins. As I was “waiting”, I checked my email and saw the following blog post that I found very timely. As I “waited”, I had plenty of time to pour over these words and do some evaluation of my own life over the last year. It was like the Lord sent this to me right at this moment because both of us know that I do not “wait” very well.
4 Ways Leaders Can Construct Their Lives for the Long Haul – Eric Geiger
The headline of The Ringer article successfully grabbed my attention: “LeBron James’s Life Is Constructed to Keep Him on the Court.” And the details in the article from the podcast are fascinating, such as the statement that LeBron invests 1.5M a year in his body. He has replicated the team gym at his home, has multiple trainers, multiple chefs, masseuses, and understands the science on how to sleep. “Everything he does in his life is constructed to have him play basketball and to stay on the court and to be as healthy as possible.” And the results are staggering. He is playing some of his best, if not the best basketball of his career as a thirteen-year veteran.
What does LeBron’s 1.5M-a-year fitness regime have to do with leaders? A lot, actually. Because he loves the game so much and is committed to playing at a high level, he is committed to investing in himself. He is committed to putting his body through grueling workouts instead of simply celebrating what he has already accomplished. Like LeBron, leaders must value their health more than their comfort. No, you likely don’t have 1.5 million you can invest in yourself, but you still must invest in yourself. Leaders must construct their lives for the long haul. Here are four ways to do so. (None of this is original or new … but it is important.)
- Invest in yourself physically.
You don’t have to be a health nut and gym rat to be a leader, but you should invest in yourself physically if you want to lead for the long haul. Exercise, eating healthy, and healthy sleep patterns are proven to give you more energy and mental clarity. It costs money to invest in yourself physically. New running shoes, a gym membership, and eating healthy are not cheap. But they are cheaper than the cost of not taking care of yourself physically.
- Invest in yourself mentally.
Whether taking classes, attending conferences, or reading books, investing in yourself mentally is an investment. It costs. And even if the resources are free, time is required. But if you stop learning, you will eventually stop leading.
- Invest in yourself emotionally.
The pressure on leaders will take a toll. If leaders don’t rest, the pressure compounds and leaders can become numb to others or lash out in anger. You must rest. You must find something that helps you recover emotionally.
- Invest in yourself spiritually.
The apostle Paul told Timothy, the younger pastor he invested in: “Train yourself in godliness. For the training of the body has limited benefit, but godliness is beneficial in every way, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come” (1 Timothy 4:7-8). In other words, much more important than physical training is training yourself in godliness, in pursuing Christlikeness through the spiritual disciplines of the faith. We waste immense amounts of time in our lives, but prayer, reading the Scripture, fasting, gathering with other believers, and solitude and stillness are never a waste of time.
Plato said, “The first and best victory is to conquer self.” While leading self is the hardest person to lead, the better we are at leading ourselves, the better we will be at leading others. If we don’t invest in ourselves, we are not constructing our lives for the long run.
I am in this for the long haul! I want to finish strong. I am learning daily that finishing strong requires me to prepare now. The author is right. None of this is new, but like my yearly wellness exam, it is a great reminder about taking care of myself so that I position myself to finish strong. I hope that you will take some time to invest in yourself in these ways regularly so that you can lead well and better prepare yourself to finish strong.