Leadership Fitness (5 tips)

Being mentally, emotionally and physically fit, is not just a luxury but an absolute necessity in these turbulent times. We have good news! Leadership fitness is easily trainable. Scientific discoveries point all to the same direction. We get good at everything we do frequent, consistent and for a while. This type of repetitive and consistent behaviour is called a ‘habit’. Successful leaders have a solid collection of effective habits. So to become successful you need to replace less effective habits with effective ones. In this blog we share a few ideas with you to start with. And if you would like some help, you can use our new time-efficient habit tracker

“That is just who I am”…. NOW 

One of the greatest discoveries in medical science in the past years is the so-called ‘plasticity of our brain’. Our brain and therefore our skills, behaviour or even certain physical abilities are trainable until a very high age. And the most spectacular insight is: this is quite easy to reach. Overall everything we do often enough and for a while, we get good at.

This is also good news for leaders in these disruptive times. Growth in leadership effectiveness is thanks to this discovery more a part of 'nurture' (to develop) than it is 'nature' (inherently already present).  That means that thanks to this discovery you cannot get away by saying: “That is just who I am...”. The person you are today is not the same as the one you are tomorrow….

Lifelong learning...

Everyone is capable of lifelong learning and development. This isn't some happy commercial, but a scientific reality. The brain is under constant development. It creates new cells, makes cross-connections and breaks (i.e. ‘pruning’) others. By focused training even a somewhat clumsy manager can become an empathic leader. Even sense for beauty is attainable.

Thanks to the internet everyone can be a leader....

Super important in a world where we can use sincere, empathic and persuasive leadership very well. And that doesn't only count for the people 'high up in the ranks'.

Because of the internet the range of an individual or small company became larger than ever before.  The election and popularity of certain politicians here and abroad is a good example. In a large extend this is due to smart use of the internet/ Social Media that determines their popularity. Not in all cases we might be happy with those elected, but it shows that it gives each of us a formidable leadership-potential.

Working on yourself, works

That is good news for leaders with ambition that are willing to work on themselves structurally.  We call ‘The structural working on yourself’ within the TopMind Training  ‘deliberate practice’. What ‘deliberate practice’ actually is, is beautifully outlined in the attached (older) article in the NRC.

But if you really want to grow as a leader it really isn't about WHAT you exactly do (for many that is relatively easy and clear to discover), but THAT you do it and KEEP on DOING it for a while. It is the consistency and sustainability of your habits that leads to growth and definitive success.

5 concrete practical tips for your growth as a leader:

1. Keep a journal

Keep a daily journal. Write down your progress or development with the personal goals you set yourself. By reflecting and evaluating them every day, you will be more aware of your own progress and amongst other things, this will give your brain a signal about what has worked. We call this part the 'perception of success' and this is essential for the creation and structural improvement of certain neurological connections in the brain.

A great and practical suitable app for a daily electronic journal is the app called: ‘Day One’. But according to research the most effective way is still making notes by hand and pen.

2. As a habit: ask yourself (OPEN) questions

Asking questions gives clarity, a lot more than directly looking for solutions or going in to the 'action-mode'. What is REALLY the matter?  How can I the next time ..? When did it work? What were the features? Who can help me? etc. Teach yourself for your own development to ask yourself at least 5 OPEN questions, before you set out with a possible solution or action.

3. Frequently ask feedback from others

This speaks for itself, but is maybe the hardest to execute for most people. You really help yourself if you have the courage to ask feedback on a structural basis. There are enough people in your area that can assess your behaviour honestly and good and are willing to help you with it. Why not?

This is about frequent feedback moments with others, preferably as close as possible, to the moment on which that certain behaviour happened. A really good and easy question to anyone is: What can I do better?

Feedback is the breakfast for champions.

- Ken Blanchard

4. Look for a coach or mentor

You don't have to invent the wheel yourself anymore, because someone else already did that for you! Look for a coach or mentor of which you know that she or he is better or at least has more expertise on the subject that you want to learn. If you want to be healthier, look for someone who is super fit and healthy. If you want to listen better look for someone who knows a lot more about this AND is a prime example on this area etc. Then you can start to mimic her or his habits. Sometimes you have to pay if it's professional coaching, but this is often not necessary, because there is always someone in your area that likes to be a ''role model''.

5. Eat fish-oil 

The brain mainly exists out of fats and for it to function properly it relies on substances that can't be made in itself. These will need to be acquired from food. Important substances for the brain are omega-3 and omega-6, essential fatty acids which can be found in fat fish. Especially DHA, one of the omega-3 fatty acids, is important. The biggest part of the brain tissue exists out of DHA. Amongst other things these take care of the regulation of our learning-, think- and speech abilities, the locomotion, the memory, the mood and our behaviour.

These substances are easy to get in the shape of capsules these days. Do check for the purity and the high component of DHA.

And now .... “JUST DO IT!” , and if '5' habits are too much to start with, just start with one. If you need help, we offer you our FREE TopMind Habit Tracker here.


I really hope that this can help you to be on your way to your own TopMind!  Let me know here below in the comments section and perhaps your friends have something to share too.

Keep your eyes on the ball!

Sincere greetings, AJ

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