This year, my word is ACTIVATE.
It’s the core theme of everything I’m doing.
One of the reasons that I chose ACTIVATE was because I recognised that last year I was much more sedentary than usual. As were many, because we were working from home and dealing with some of the lockdown constraints created in response to COVID.
So this year I’m very focused on making sure that I activate; activate my business, activate my clients, activate myself – body and mind.
The other thing that I consistently noticed when speaking with many of my executive clients was that they were in exactly the same position, and they were not prioritising their own health and activity as highly as they might have in the past. On top of this, over the past 12 to 15 months the opportunity for exercise had changed because of limitations around movement with lockdown and work from home, and so on.
Most people understand that a little bit of exercise makes a significant difference in terms of your own energy, your level of clarity, your decision making, your creativity and general health. Of course as leaders, you need all of those things. You need to refill your cup, replenish yourself. You need to resource yourself because you give so generously to all of those people around you.
Yet, when I’ve been speaking to leaders recently about how to First lead Yourself, so you can lead others, there is some resistance to activate.
‘I’m too busy to exercise’, is one refrain.
‘I can’t get to the gym’ is another one.
‘I’m not really a fitness sort of person.’
So I thought I’d share some of the things that help me to activate a little bit more, to give you some ideas to work with.
1. MAKE THE CHOICE
Choose yourself. Choose to first lead yourself. Choose to look after yourself so that you can look after others. It is such an important thing as a leader to make sure that you position yourself in the best possible way to be able to lead. So make the choice to activate.
2. ADD INCIDENTAL ACTIVITY
This is something my mum used to tell me when I was a kid. ‘There is always an opportunity to add incidental activity throughout the day.’ So it is not necessarily about finding an hour to exercise continuously. It is the little moments or increments. And those increments, when added together, make a big difference to your overall level of activity. For example,
- Climb the stairs instead of taking the lift.
- Park one block away from where you need to be and walk that block.
- While you’re waiting for the kettle to boil, do a few lunges, or do pushups against the kitchen counter.
- While you’re brushing your teeth, complete some squats or a wall sit. (sounds crazy, yet it works)
These increments of activity, when added up, will make a difference and will help you to be more active overall.
3. LESS TIME, HIGHER INTENSITY
If you do want to deliberately add a specific exercise, it does not need to take a long time. You don’t even need to leave home or need any extra equipment if you don’t have it – notice how I am removing all of your reasons not to activate!
I do fairly short workouts at home. Only 10 to 15 minutes. Never anything more than 30 minutes. It can be easy if you let it. For example,
- 300 step ups, all you need is a step somewhere around your house.
- A hundred squat jumps…you can do anywhere.
- 10 rounds of 30 seconds on, 30 seconds off of high knees running on the spot.
- 20-second intervals of pushups, squats and pullups (I use the kitchen table for this) for 4-10 minutes.
- Planking, which is a good overall body exercise, and it’s something the whole family can do.
- The plank version of Nutbush City Limits by Tina Turner is a great 3 minute workout.
And so many more. Simply choose what works for you. Short and intense so you can fit it in to your day.
4. CREATE A PLAN
This means put some thought into how you will activate and when, and make deliberate choices for yourself. Remember this is First lead Yourself, so you can be at your best to lead others. This means have plan A, which is your first option for how to activate. Circumstances don’t always support plan A, so make sure you have a plan B and possibly a plan C too, so that one way or another you will fit some activity in.
If it helps, add your plan in to your diary so your time is committed to activate.
Some people prefer the gym or like to have some accountability to support their intentions. Great. Do this if that is you.
There are also some great online options for finding accountability buddies…so again no leaving the house required.
If you need to, choose options which mean your family can join in. Go to the park, play chase in the backyard, throw a frisbee, kick a ball. Whatever gets you to activate.
Personally, I also deliberately walk outside a few times each week because I know outside time helps me to be at my best.
Create the plan that works for you.
5. JUST DO IT
You know the benefits of activity.
You know the difference it would make to you and your leadership.
Spare yourself a few incidental moments of activity each day and perhaps 15 minutes four times a week and you will notice how that activity impacts your sense of wellbeing, your general health, your clarity, your ability to focus and decide. It will even improve your sleep, which we know is vital for leaders.
So if you have been Umm-ing and Ahh-ing about how to get yourself moving so you can be at your best leadership self, I hope these tips inspire you to activate.
First Lead Yourself.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
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