Being an Executive is like running an ultra-marathon on trails, you start out full of excitement and anticipation at the opportunity and adventure ahead. But how do you keep the motivation and momentum going when things get tough with long hours, high demands, challenges, feelings of isolation and the delicate balancing act of rest, recovery and self-preservation?
With the right tools and strategies in place you can run the ultra-marathon of Executive Life. Here’s five lessons I’ve learnt from being an Executive that’s run the gruelling 135km Cape to Cape track in WA’s South West in 24 hours. You too can stay at peak performance while walking steadily and balanced along the wellness wall.
Become a visionary
Know what needs to be done, what’s right for the workplace and for yourself, develop clear action plans with check points along the way and communicate this with your team.
Ask yourself big questions:
Who will be the key people in helping reach the vision?
What will it look like when you get there?
Why is it important?
Knowing the why behind what you want to achieve is key to your success as it acts like a lighthouse that guides you towards your vision while reminding you to proceed with caution as you approach the rocky shores.
Have the right support team
Nothing is ever achieved alone, building a support team that you know will be there when you need it most is like planning and mapping a running course with support crew strategically positioned.
Support is not just the in the workplace, it’s also those in your personal life. Coaches, mentors, accountability buddies, groups and their leaders, massage therapists, doctors, accountants, family, friends, loved ones etc.
Just like a well-executed training plan, having your support plan in place will help you stay focused, on course and in peak performance.
Rest, refuel and recover
You can’t run an ultra-marathon or build executive endurance without adequate rest, recovery, excellent nutrition, hydration, slowing the pace down when fatigue sets in, breaking things up along the way to stay feeling fresh and ready to face the challenges and obstacles that show up along the way.
Give yourself permission to unplug at least one day per week, plan something fun to do, spend it with those most important to you. Plan quarterly mini breaks to keep you motivated and take annual holidays so you have something to look forward to. Nourish your body with quality, fresh healthy foods and keep a bottle of water with you, aim for a minimum of 2 litres per day. If you’re feeling fatigued or overwhelmed slow the pace down, rest and break things down into smaller more manageable chunks.
When I ran my last ultra-marathon, the beaches were so eroded that my left calf muscle started to cramp from the uneven ground, as I was going up a hill that felt like it was never going to end I felt something give, it wasn’t serious but it hurt and really slowed me down. Our ability to continuously work at the same pace is like the muscles in our bodies with overuse they become fatigued, break down and unable to perform with the same strength.
Master your mindset
Those long stretches where you feel like you’re alone and running on the spot can leave you feeling isolated and wreak havoc on your mindset.
Your mindset is responsible for a great deal of your behaviour and beliefs on success and failure across all areas of your life and your capacity for happiness.
Stay focused on the opportunities not the problems and constantly ask “what needs to be done now?”
When running on trails you are faced with all sorts of unpredictable terrain, you’re constantly adjusting your gait to accommodate what’s under foot. If you tried to run the same way at the same pace you would fall and injure yourself.
Approach challenges with an open and inquisitive world view and a willingness to adapt.
Hitting the wall and bouncing back
In running there’s a saying “Hit the wall” it’s a point where you are so fatigued and overwhelmed that you just can’t see a way forward – it’s horrible!
I experienced hitting the wall after I injured myself, I had been on my feet for over 18 hours, travelled over 100km and just couldn’t see how I was going to manage the last 24km to complete the 135km run.
I sat in the front of my car in pain and exhausted, looking out to the ocean and I visualised what it would be like if I quit. I imagined myself turning up to the finish line to meet my fellow running buddy, but I wasn’t running I was being driven.
Then I started to feel what that would feel like not just in that moment but in one month, six months, 12 months and that felt way more painful that whatever it was going to take to finish the run.
My support crew encouraged me to keep going and one kind hearted man, Ben ran with me for the last leg of the run. It gave me confidence to finish the run.
To conquer what seems like the impossible it’s important to stop, take some time to reflect, look at the bigger picture and allow others to help.
If you already have excellent executive endurance, I congratulate you.
If you‘d like help on ways to bring wellness into your workplace, here’s how I can help.
Leading edge workshops to help you and your team walk steadily and confidently along the wellness wall.
- WorkWell – Workplace endurance. Have you got what it takes to keep up and step up?
Private and team coaching to help you find that wellness warrior within you so you can take back control of your life and all be living and working well,
Keynote presentations to inspire and energise your team.
If you’re keen for more information on workplace wellness, please get in touch.