Having one’s business is a considerable personal investment, workload, and significant pressure that continuously weigh on the shoulders of the bosses. This has a positive impact on their health. In the workplace and entrepreneurship, the subject of health is taboo or a secondary matter. I once chatted with a business manager in his 60s and asked him the following question: “Have you planned a succession plan in case something happens to you? “. He was surprised by my question, and he replied that the financial side was expected. I asked him the question differently: “What will happen to your company if you have an accident, an inability to work for several weeks? “. He evaded the question and changed the subject. This refusal to respond illustrates a reality that is very present in our society; we never want to think about the worst, anticipate scares, and there is often more urgent to settle anyway! The mental and physical health of leaders should be an integral part of the business strategy!
People who know me consider me a very active person. I have a lot of energy that I invest in many personal and professional projects. Twice in my life, my body reminded me that I had limits. These events made me realize that my health was one of the most fabulous riches I could have.
Learn not to be stressed unnecessarily!
Several years ago, after my Ph.D., I was acting as Acting Scientific Director. This work experience allowed me to have under my direction two teams working on two big research projects. Very quickly, I realized that both sides were dysfunctional, with internal conflicts. The work climate was harsh. I will not detail all the problems encountered, but they have given me experience in human resources management and conflict management. During this period, I had plaques that appeared on my body every month. After allergy tests and consultations with the doctor, a visit to a dermatologist allowed me to elucidate the mystery. The latter explained to me that stress was at the origin of these plates. He told me that he had experienced the same situation and that the only solution was to eliminate all unnecessary stress in my life. I had to learn to distance myself from certain circumstances over which I had no control. This learning was beneficial afterwards because we are subjected every day to conditions that can generate a certain level of tension.
Learn to define its limits!
A few years ago, despite the warnings of some people close to me, I reached my limit. When you live 200% for months and years, you have no recoil in your life. The strategist loses focus because the adrenaline generated by this way of life is stronger than anything. And that’s where you hit the wall! Luckily, two people made me open my eyes. To give you a glimpse of the situation, my job led me to always be on the road. I often left very early in the morning, went to meetings, worked in restaurants, etc. There are days when I answered calls from 6am, and I finished my day at the office around 19h. After going home, I continued to settle the files that I had not had time to treat the same day.
Reduce the expectations of partners!
Digital has dramatically increased the speed of communications but has also created expectations. I have always been quick to respond to emails sent to me. I like to adjust the different requests that come in quickly. After the birth of my son, fatigue making, I responded a little less quick to my emails and messages. A particular frustration then settled in several of my colleagues who were used to almost instant answers. Technology, while improving our lifestyle, creates strong expectations, and is challenging to cope with. For my part, I found some unusual solutions:
The first solution I set up is to open my inbox only a few times a day. It makes me more efficient because I’m not constantly distracted by the arrival of new messages.
If I respond to work emails in the evenings and weekends, I get used to scheduling their mailings during regular business hours. For example, if you use Gmail, you can install the CRM Streak for free. The latter offers an option for programming the sending of messages.
When I receive text messages or non-urgent messages, I always take a while to answer.
These few tips allowed me to reduce the expectations of my colleagues and my partners by accustoming them to greater or lesser response time.
Learn how to make "healthy" gestures!
When we invest in many projects, we often forget to take care of ourselves, both physically and mentally. My years in management positions allowed me to realize quickly. The first project we should all have in priority is our health!
To remain useful in a life of entrepreneur or leader, it is imperative to respect oneself, so to have his quota of sleep, to agree moments of rest, moments for oneself, to diversify his activities in his investing in fields other than work, for example, sports or community life.
For my part, I impose specific rules:
For all the years, my job as a general manager and the creation of my company have made me invest a lot of time in meetings, traveling, and eating in restaurants. The problem is that the proposed meals are often greasy, very sweet, and sometimes even a little watered. From now on, when I go to the restaurant for business, I choose healthy meals, without frying, with fruits and vegetables, then I do not take any more dessert. This allows me to stay healthy and to control a little my calorie intake.
Modern sedentary life (time spent in front of a computer or the car) does not allow us to keep a good physical shape. For my part, I force myself to do a little sport every week. I am enrolled in a gym where I go from 1 to 3 times a week. When there is an elevator, I’m looking for stairs. As soon as I can, I walk instead of taking my car. When I do my shopping, I park my car, or there is always room, at the bottom of the parking lot. I also used to mow the lawn, shovel my entry, pick up fallen leaves, take care of the garden, and so on.
Another susceptible point:
lack of sleep. Entrepreneurs are used to getting up very early and going to bed very late because it is difficult to delegate specific strategic tasks. In the long run, fatigue and irritability are insidiously established and reduce the resistance and responsiveness of all entrepreneurs. Having a business is like running a marathon; you need to know how to control your energy to finish the race. Imagine an endless marathon; it’s the everyday life of entrepreneurs. For my part, when fatigue sets in, I take the time to recharge my energies to be effective. For example, sometimes, I do not activate my alarm clock to ensure a better recovery.
Know how to stop!
Often working more than fifty-five hours a week, I realized that life must be balanced to maintain good mental health. For example, my work being very intellectual, during my free time, I do mainly manual or physical activities. Since this year, I am surprised even not to open my computer during the weekend. You will ask me, “How are you doing? “. Over time, I realized that my strategic thinking, the preparation of digital strategies, IT master plans, business plans, and my coaching are of the highest quality when I take the time to get down. I am therefore more efficient in my work.
When I was a student, I was very involved in the associations of my university. Life has gradually removed me from this volunteer involvement, yet so rewarding. For some time, I have returned to my involvement because I hope that my actions can make a positive change in my community. It also allows me to develop my social and business network, to broaden my horizons, to feel my value, and to offer my expertise for free to causes that are close to my heart.
To conclude, success must not be that professional. The changes also gave me the opportunity to better balance work and family. When I spend time with my son and my friends, I am 100% present. I am sure that good health and a balanced life are the keys to success. What do you think?