One time, a client said to me, "Scott, I realize I need to take care of myself. When I do that, I am at my best. I have decided to do yoga when I get up in the morning and exercise at noon. I am going to be conscious of my diet and make good choices about what goes into my body."
When I probed for the reason, he continued.
"Recently, there has been a lot of negativity in my life and I am just not going to allow it to get me down any longer. I am choosing to be the leader I want to be and not be some weak victim of circumstance."
His decision prompts me to ask this question to you; how are you, as a leader, focusing on your Emotional Well-being?
There’s a great story of 2 of 180 nuns who are the subjects of a noteworthy study on longevity and happiness. If you want all the details, you really need to get the book Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, but here is the bottom line:
90% of the most cheerful 25% of the nuns were alive at age 85 vs. only 34% of the least cheerful 25%.
54% of the most cheerful quarter was alive at age 94, as opposed to only 11% of the least cheerful.
Studies of longevity are very complex from a pure science standpoint. Causality is extremely difficult to make a case. However, one of the reasons this study is so impactful is that nuns lead very similar lives. They eat basic food, they don’t smoke or drink alcohol, and have similar routines. Of course, there differences such as intellect, depths of spirituality and outlook on the future that could account for the varied results in the nuns.
However, none of these aspects made any difference in the research. In his book, Seligman points out that the largest contributor to their longevity was the amount of positive feelings.
According to the National Wellness Institute, wellness is "an active process through which people become aware of, and make choices toward, a more successful existence."
Four things to notice about wellness:
It is an active process. It is something you devote energy to making happen. It is intentional on your part as a leader.
It starts with self-awareness. Are you aware of the moment when health choices present themselves?
Wellness is a choice. You decide to be well in the moment or say “screw it” and become a victim of your circumstance.
There is an end game. A successful existence. This is your life. You only get one. Why not make it the very best that it can be?
Happiness and Emotional Intelligence
One of the attributes we measure in the Emotional Intelligence training is Happiness or Well-being. In our model there are four factors that comprise Well-being:
Self-Regard: Believing in yourself and living according to your values.
Self-Actualization: A willingness to learn and grow in accordance with your beliefs.
Interpersonal Relationships: Engaging in mutually satisfying relationships.
Optimism: The ability to respond, recover, and claim a happy state from disappointments and setbacks in life
Two Considerations for Evaluating Your Own Level of Well-Being
The first is attempting to display as much of these four attributes as you can. Believe in yourself and live according to your values. Learn and grow in areas that really matter to you. Have friends that reciprocate. Realize things in life are not always going to go your way. What counts is how you respond when setbacks happen.
The second is to have a balance between these attributes. For example, you want to make sure that your self-regard is balanced with your interpersonal relationships. If you have a high level of self-regard and low levels of interpersonal relationships, you could come across as prideful. If you have low levels of self-regard and high interpersonal relationships, then you could come across as needy and not fun to be around. It’s all about balance.
As you think about the successful life you want to live as a leader, are you choosing to maximize and balance these 4 attributes of emotional health? What changes would you need to make to live a long and successful life?