Leadership Diet

Leadership Diet

I want to talk to you in this Leading Thoughts about your leadership diet, and I want to be very practical.

In the same way that elite athletes must feed themselves differently from non-athletes in order to perform well, leaders must feed for success too. They have to be intentional about what I call their “leadership diet.” By this phrase, I mean what they take into their minds and hearts that becomes the fuel of their leadership performance.

Take a moment and think back over your previous seven days. Think about what you’ve read, what you’ve watched, the podcasts you’ve listened to, and even the themes of the conversations you’ve had. Now, tally up the approximate time you’ve given to each of these. Then, consider them from the standpoint of their deposit in your mind and heart. In other words, if all that you’ve exposed yourself to plants seeds in the soil of your life, what kind of seed is it? What will the harvest be?

If in the last week you’ve spent 15 hours watching contentious and dispiriting political fights on TV, a couple of hours involved in “things sure are horrible” conversations, half an hour listening to a business podcast and maybe that much again on your devotional reading, then your “leadership diet” is imbalanced. It’s not helping you lead. If you spent a dozen hours watching a Netflix series about murder, five hours reading a novel about sex games, and then you caught a few brief motivational blogs in your spare time, your diet isn’t making you a leadership champion.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. Movies are fine. A good Netflix series won’t hurt you. And sex? Well, I’m all for it. The problem isn’t the presence of any of these in your life. The problem is proportion and intentionality.

A good leader feeds himself for leadership success. He makes sure the majority of his viewing, reading, and listening time is making the right deposit in his life. A good leader takes control of her “feeding” spiritually and intellectually just as intentionally as she takes control of other areas of her life in order to succeed.

You don’t need 15 hours a week of screamfests on MSNBC, FOX, or CNN. How about half an hour a day getting your news and then you watch some TED talks that will help you in all areas of life? How about upping your podcast time to five hours a week and making those podcasts inspirational and fascinating? How about turning chats with your friends toward, “Tell me, what app, or discipline, or business practice is making the biggest difference in your life?” And why can’t every other book you read for fun make you a better leader because it’s a classic or it’s an exploration of some field of knowledge that is new to you? It’s the same with movies. Apollo 13 can teach you how to lead. Nightmare on Elm Street, not so much!

I’m not trying to be a killjoy. Watch the goofy movie just for fun. Yuk it up with your friends. Read the murder mystery just to kill time on that flight. And, yes, read a good book on sex with your spouse and then, you know, enjoy!

Just don’t let our screen-driven, entertainment-oriented world fill your mind and heart with junk. Tame your time. Harness the power of your media. Be intentional about your mental and spiritual harvest.

Here’s the assignment: Over the next few weeks, put a “leadership diet” to work in your life. Over the next few months, keep tabs on the good this diet is producing.

That’s it. Go Green Bay! And have a good weekend.

Stephen