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Before you can lead with any success, let alone be around long enough to do it right, you need a healthy body and mind. (LCT photo)
While that’s some old common sense, the need for it should be obvious given the stress levels and bad habits all around. Balancing good health with a successful business is a passion for Billy Sheehan, “The Coach,” an executive health strategist who has helped corporate leaders for 25 years lower stress and raise productivity levels by changing how they live.
As the first presenter of the LCT Leadership Summit, Sheehan set the foundation for solid leadership principles. He stressed if you take care of yourself mentally and physically, you’ll perform better in a leadership role.
Does It Really Matter?
A Northwestern University study Sheehan cited found a dramatic increase in “functional capacity” among those living a healthier lifestyle. Most people in the chauffeured transportation industry focus more on taking care of their businesses than themselves.
Sheehan advises the reverse: If you take care of yourself first, you will be better at handling your business. Healthier people work at higher levels of creativity, confidence, stamina, level-headedness, and collaboration. Think about how these attributes determine your success.
The average person faces a barrage of choices each day. As a business owner, the decisions and choices you make will affect your clients, employees, family, business, and yourself.
“These choices include what you will eat next, when you will go to sleep, what promotion you might implement next, and even what you will think about next,” Sheehan said. He referred to humans as “choice-making” machines. Managing your choices serves as a navigation system for personal and professional lives, and determines physical and mental fitness levels.
By applying his principles, Sheehan promises higher levels of “healthy living, mental performance, imagination, and innovation.” He spoke about choosing in 1990 to work as a personal trainer. He never dreamed he would become a public speaker sharing his knowledge of how physical fitness ties into “pretty much everything in your life,” including mental state and behavior.
“I can assure you when I was wearing my gym shorts and trying to figure out how many people would pay me $40 an hour as their personal trainer back in the 1990s, I had absolutely no idea I would ever be flown down to Miami as a speaker and be standing up here in front of you,” Sheehan said.
Seeing The Big Picture
Before you can make good choices, you need a vision, Sheehan said. How do you see yourself in the mirror? How do you see the dawn of a new day? Most importantly, how do you see this day? What will you do with this day? As you read this article, think of today and what you will do with the rest of it. How can you make this day special and remember it as a unique accomplishment? By taking a moment to visualize you, your life, and this day, you can create a mental vision board of what you can accomplish and feel proud of today.
Timing Of Choices
You will never get a second chance to make a choice. Sheehan pointed out we live in the moment. “Your life is playing out now, in the moment. And everything that ever will happen to you will happen in the moment,” he said. He asked, “Can you make a choice in the past?” He answered the rhetorical question with, “The past is gone. It’s untouchable, it’s irretrievable.” You might be inclined to say – “yes.” But the fact is you cannot. You can only plan your choice in the future, but it’s still not a done deal. Only as the moment arrives can you make an actual choice.
It might be as simple as choosing chocolate ice cream on your way to an ice cream parlor. Once you arrive, you might find mint chocolate chip to be more appealing and select it instead. The point is, don’t spend a lot of time making choices well into the future as circumstances may change.
Sheehan encourages people to focus on the present. “You can eliminate 90% of your stress. You can elevate your personal health, and you can infuse into your role as a leader of a business, a resource, a message, and an energy that will move you past any challenge.”
As a stark reminder of how choices affect us, Sheehan shared a story about growing up with his brother and their forays into illicit drugs. While Sheehan ditched the habit and became Billy The Coach, an international speaker, educator, and trainer, his brother’s life was cut short by his addiction to the same drugs. Sheehan summarized it with once simple word: Choices.
All The Problems
Years ago Gandhi said, “At the core of every single human problem is stress. The difference between what we do and what we’re capable of doing would solve the problems of our world,’” quoted Sheehan. Stress leads people to drink, use drugs, smoke, gamble, and overeat, which all hurt their well-being.
“Everyone has stress. If you have children in this world, you have stress. If you have bills to pay, you have stress. If you have customers to satisfy, you have stress. If you’re mildly curious about your mortality, you have stress,” Sheehan said.
Stress can be good or toxic. Learning how to deal with it can help you face it without the destruction it causes. Physical exercise is reported to reduce stress, a concept most of us learned around the third grade, Sheehan said.
In the limousine industry, operators often fail to budget the time for exercise despite proven benefits. Sheehan calls regular physical exercise the number one choice for decreasing stress. Physical activity actually benefits the brain.
Four Common Things That Ruin Lives
While this doesn’t come as a surprise, these four items can be most destructive to well being, with food now ranking as the most abused escape from stress: drugs, alcohol, food, and stress.
While Sheehan said he wasn’t there to speak about eating string beans, proper eating relates to our physical well-being. In a humorous comparison intended to highlight the junk we put into our bodies, Sheehan asked, “How many of you would pour lemonade or Coca-Cola in the gas tanks of your vehicles?” The analogy is we take great care of our fleet because it produces income for us. However, the fleet is run by you so you should take care of yourself in the same way you take care of the fleet. Don’t put harmful things in your body.
Nature intended we spend one third of our lives sleeping. Research shows the average person experiences 30,000 to 60,000 thoughts each day. That’s a lot of work on the brain, and it simply must have time to recharge to repeat this daily. It is important to maintain a regular sleep pattern by going to bed close to the same time each day and getting the amount of sleep your body needs to feel rested when you wake.
Every day we learn new things. We learn about our business, clients, new technology, as well as useless stuff. However, learning is exercising the mind while empowering it. By seeking new information, reading, conversing, and most importantly, listening, you will be constantly learning and applying newly gained information to your life.
Seek to learn as much as you can about matters of interest to you and what might be beneficial in your personal life, your business life, and even your spiritual life. Sheehan refers to this as cardiovascular exercise for the brain. Sheehan pointed out the brain’s ability to continuously adapt through life. For instance, if a person goes blind, the brain automatically increases hearing to compensate for the loss of sight.
Elevating Your Performance
Sheehan shared his most important tool for success: Elevating your performance. “Think, live, and experience your life in the moment,” Sheehan reiterated. In raising your performance, “The only thing that will make the difference whether it’s you is if you choose. You get to choose.”
3 Quick Tips
Coach Billy’s recommendations for elevating performance:
1 Focus on the things you can control. Do not be distracted by anything outside of your control. This will unburden the average business owner of 90% of their stress.
2 If you are going to accept the behavior, it is critical you accept the consequences of your behavior. To accept the behavior and not accept its consequences is lunacy.
3 Live, think, and experience your life in the moment. That’s all you have. That’s what neuroscience and neurobiology has exposed about humanity. Manage and refine the way you react to happenings around you.
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