There is a theme when you enter the field of high-level entrepreneurship and business; that is the higher you climb the more attention has to be paid to the body as much as the mind.
So what is it, that makes these top leaders pay attention to their physical prowess? The high-level performers know that their physical health and performance dictates their cognitive and business performance.
As a personal trainer and start-up consultant working with dozens of different people I always see those who pay attention to their physical health, almost always seem to outperform those who don’t. This is both in business and outside of it.
So what are the three things that you can leverage straight away to gain an immediate improvement in your both your business and physical performance? Sleep, exercise, and mindfulness.
Sleep to Prioritise Productivity
“Exhaustion makes wimps out of all us.” James Loehr
Our day is split into 24 hours, 33% of it should be spent sleeping to allow for optimal levels of performance and output. In business, if a third of your revenue is generated from one action then you wouldn’t want to be cutting corners or decreasing the effectiveness of this process - so why cheat yourself of sleep?
Our body is directly affected by sleep, we’ve all been through those times where we’ve had less sleep than what we need and we feel terrible. When recently consulting a new start-up and I asked them when things were getting stressful “how is your sleep?” the answer - “We’ve been working on 4 hours of sleep a night”. Knowing the physiological damage they were dealing themselves was only the beginning - they missed a meeting with a VC and one of the partners had forgotten his mother’s birthday.
The news is that it gets worse if you don’t get your sleep sorted, numerous studiesshow that both your memory and attention are significantly impaired with as little as 6 hours a night and this only grows worse if you continue to deprive yourself of sleep.
Below are some other symptoms that have been associated with sleep deprivation:
Don’t let this be you.
Here are the three things you can do straight away to fix your sleep:
Sixty minutes prior to sleep eliminate all digital devices, if you’re using your phone as an alarm keep it on the other side of the room, face down to avoid checking it.
Have a low glycemic index meal prior to sleep 250 calories or less - low blood sugar prior to sleep is a reason that people will sometimes wake up lethargic or groggy. I personally use 3-4 celery sticks with peanut butter.
Do not do anything work or business related one hour prior to sleep.
Exercise and Eat Well to Sustain Energy
“Exercise not only changes your body but changes your mind, your attitude and your mood.” - Joseph Addison
Everybody knows that they should exercise to be considered healthy but did you know that the lack of physical activity has also been associated with altered brain activity resulting in lethargy and lower productivity. The same with the wrong diet, certain foods cause us to crash resulting in a below par performance mentally.
There is a reason the greatest entrepreneurial faces like Arianna Huffington, Tim Ferris, and Tony Robbins all have consistent exercise and diet routines to maintain their physical health. It not only benefits your health in the long run but your business too.
Making the wrong decisions for your business and your health because you can’t spare 20 minutes of activity is a force multiplier in the long run. You’re robbing yourself of greater productivity, which over the next week, month or year can be costly for business and your health.
A 2002 study indicates that even getting 20 minutes of high-intensity exercise, three times a week has the added benefits of increasing your cognition and neuroplasticity. Get a sweat up and enjoy the added bonus of being fitter and more productive.
Your diet is important too - had a crash after devouring too much sugar or food in one sitting? We’ve all felt like that from one time or another - don’t let it ruin your work day. These three basic eating rules will allow you to maintain consistent energy levels throughout the day and keep your blood cholesterol in check:
Mindfulness and Meditation for Focus
“Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” - Tony Robbins
Spending time to bring your thoughts into perspective at least once a day is something that should be practiced in both business and body. Most of the start-up clients I have worked with all have some form of meditation practice. I use this both to improve my physical and business performance.
People often use the excuse that they have a lack of time and this is often due to the lack of the right priorities, the same can be said for business when you don’t focus on the right things you can spend a lot of time and energy on the wrong details.
I meditate 10 minutes every morning before checking email or any other form of communication from work to give myself the ability to reflect on my top priorities that need to be achieved throughout the day. I use the application Headspace which is a form of guided meditation. I follow these three steps:
This process saves me time on avoiding the menial tasks that I haven’t prioritised but also comes with some bonus health and business benefits too. A paper published in 2014 found that a review of studies of meditation on cognition suggested a positive effect particularly in the areas of attention, memory, verbal fluency, and cognitive flexibility - a bonus for you and your business.
When looking at these processes you can see that your bodily functions are strongly intertwined with your business.These three key strategies are just as applicable to business as they’re to your health. Every day I practice these strategies with my clients and myself to ensure that we make the most out of our time.
Remember get involved in the process and learn what gives you your body the best outcomes to make the most from your health and business. If you want to find more of this type of actionable content and how to start your business venture - you can find my checklist here that I use when working with each of my clients.