What if you discovered you are at this moment carrying a powerful tool for creating an even brighter future? And, what if you realized that learning to use this tool more effectively could upgrade your life and career more swiftly than getting a smarter phone or a faster car?
You have that amazing tool with you right now: your body.
Your body shapes your availability for leadership:
- Your body provides the oxygen to your brain, which can then visualize new futures.
- Your body powers your muscles, which walk over to greet new colleagues.
- The degree of tension in your body signals to others whether or not you are safe to be around.
- Your body configuration shouts to people whether you are open or closed to their ideas, without your saying a word.
This sort of body-driven capacity expands or contracts your leadership effectiveness every day.
Our Western education hasn’t prepared us to build our bodies’ capacity to support the futures we intend to create. Have you ever seen any MBA classes on Breathing, Flexibility, and Core Strength for Leadership Success? I haven’t either. Yet, every day I see people undermine their leadership with shallow breathing, constricted posture, and inability to stand firmly. Leaders sometimes need to take firm stands, yet many have no practice doing so.
As much as I love rigorous academics, I dare any management insight or algorithm to make as much difference to your leadership capacity as a body of any size that is strong, flexible, and calm.
Additionally, your body’s specialized capability affects whether specific futures are open to you. If you get violently seasick, a career as a naval officer is not for you, as my father-in-law discovered several decades ago. If you have keen vision, piloting aircraft is a possibility for you. If you develop stellar coordination, tennis is there for you. If your aerobic fitness is decent, a climbing or biking adventure with your kids may be possible for you.
If your body stays centered, and you can maintain your ability to reason when faced with a challenge, executive leadership is available to you.
The leaders I coach often haven’t made that best use of their bodies, so this becomes an area where they can significantly increase their capacity. By walking or exercising more regularly, they feel more mental energy and physical calm to bring to their work. By addressing persistent distortions from old injuries or cramped hours at the computer, they move with more physical flexibility; frequently, they discover others then perceive them as more flexible to new ideas. By connecting periodically with their belly and heart areas, they discover insights that have yet to bubble up to their conscious minds. By pausing to breathe deeply for a few minutes between meetings, they recharge and bring freshness to their thoughts.
6 Simple Body Practices
Here are some simple practices that make the most difference:
⇒ Take five deep breaths between meetings. Be aware of your inhale (feel your rib cage expanding sideways) and slowly out.
⇒ Get your heart rate up, preferably in the morning or at midday. Go for a run or do 15 minutes of step aerobics or exercise bike at your home, if you must, while catching up on the news.
⇒ Consider deep bodywork to help your body let go of persistent historical tension.
⇒ If you have a body that is sensitive to what you eat, experiment with the level of caffeine, sugar, protein, carbohydrates and such to find the right mix that keeps you clear-headed.
⇒ Get the sleep you need. Nearly all of us need 7 to 8 hours a night.
⇒ Do yoga or Aikido to invite your body to find its center, connect inner experience and outer action, build strength, and stay flexible.
When was the last time you went to a sales meeting or was in a conversation or you did anything without your body?
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