For many of us growing up, sports were an indispensable part of our lives. We developed and grew as young men on the athletic fields, learning firsthand many lessons which would be applicable to life success later on down the road. Whether it was on the gridiron, the court, or the pitch, we began to understand firsthand the definition of teamwork, sacrifice, hard work, and commitment. An essential part of these athletic programs’ was the behind the scenes strength and conditioning work that could change a chump into a champion. True winners were made off the field during the countless hours spent in the weight room, sprinting hills, working on technique, and observing and emulating others who had mastered the sport. Fitness goals back then centered around one thing: improving our performance at any given sport to ensure success.
Thus, when we graduated from competitive athletics, there was a gaping void in our lives, one which many never truly fully replaced.
Sure, we continued to play intramural sports and work out, but without the motivation of a true competitive atmosphere, it was difficult to summon the internal drive to push ourselves to new bounds. We grew, up, we matured, we got jobs, and we started focusing on our careers and becoming future leaders in our fields. However, many times the importance of physical fitness got pushed to the wayside. It became a menial task adhered to by many if for no other reason than to stay in decent enough shape to continue attracting members of the desired sex.
We need to re-think our motivations and goals for exercising and reshape them to fit this next stage of life. I would argue that before anyone can be a true leader, he needs to be of both sound body and sound mind. That is why I look around at many of the leaders today, clearly in terrible physical health, and find it hard to be inspired. They are in charge of enterprises, corporations, and countries, yet it is apparent they are incapable of even caring for the one entity that follows them everywhere through life: their own body. The missing ingredient? Consistent exercise and a healthy diet. How can someone run a company when they can’t even properly feed and maintain their own physical body?
If one aspires to be the best leader he can possibly be, he needs to understand himself first and understand how to best perform as a human being.
He needs to understand how to best cultivate his mind and body to be at the maximum potential for performance. Then, he can begin to truly lead. Recent research* has actually shown that exercise literally reverses cognitive decline. It improves hormone levels, increases blood flow to your brain, reduces stress, jump starts the creation of new brain cells, among other countless benefits. Combined with a healthy diet, rich in whole, non-processed foods, we can maximize our human potential for physical and mental performance.
Just as we spent many hours in the weight room in order to outperform our peers on the field, we should dedicate ample time in our adult lives to training and fueling the engines that carry us through our lives: our body and mind. So what are you waiting for? Find a workout modality that you enjoy, one that is sustainable for the foreseeable future. I personally enjoy powerlifting, olympic lifting, bodybuilding, and cycling, but it can be anything that gets your heart rate up and helps lose fat and build and maintain muscle mass! Then pick a plan and stick to it. Consistency yields results. High mental and physical aptitude create the foundation for a great leader.
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