Leader Don’ts #5: Ignore their Health

By | September 28, 2019

[September 28, 2019]  He was a good friend for several decades.  John “JC” Ayers obituary said that he passed away due to poor health.  He successfully owned and ran a large restaurant east of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania well before I met him.  JC was a wonderful family man and community leader.  But he did not watch his diet, nor did he exercise.

In plain words, JC ignored his health.  I’m told that many in the restaurant business have similar problems.  Between long hours, the pressure of ensuring quality customer service, and handling junior chefs, food suppliers, restaurant staff, and building issues, many people fall victim to putting their health last on their priority list.

Good leaders, however, don’t ignore their health.  We know that leaders can easily fall into the trap of putting themselves last in a variety of circumstances; over their family, career, and friends.  It’s so easy to focus on what’s immediate and solve the everyday problems that pop up.  When this happens, longer-term issues like one’s health can be put aside but to never return to its rightful place.

Adopting healthy habits can be challenging in JC’s environment.  For example, leaders frequently find their workweek to be long and difficult.  During military combat operations, it may sound counter-intuitive, but soldiers also need the time to exercise, eat an occasional good meal, and reduce stress.  Sustained combat operations will burn out the best service member.  Their leaders are responsible that soldiers can sustain themselves over the long term.  If they don’t adopt proper health habits, soldiers will make mistakes that can lead to death and injury.

JC was a good man, and his death saddened many in the small town where he lived.  Not only was he a great family man, he was also a passionate poker player.  We could only play for about an hour on Monday evenings, but we had the most wonderful time for men who can sit together, joke, cuss, and bully one another and never hold a grudge.  At the time, I never gave it a second thought that JC had failed to care for his health.  He wasn’t much overweight and he didn’t use tobacco products.

It is an individual responsibility to maintain healthy habits.  Others can help.  I’m re-watching the HBO WWII series The Pacific.  The show gives us one episode where the U.S. Marines from front-line units are pulled back for rest and exercise.  In one scene they board a train that takes them 100 miles from the town they are in and given three days to march back.  That’s being tough, and that’s the sort of thing that it takes to maintain your health.

The National Council for Aging Care provides resources that some of you may find useful.  Their website is here (click link).


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

17 thoughts on “Leader Don’ts #5: Ignore their Health

  1. Edward M. Kennedy III

    This issue is far more important than one might believe by reading Gen. Satterfield’s essay. I can tell you from experience, that if you ignore your health, you and your men will suffer the consequences dramatically. Keep up the great articles and I’ll keep reading them.

  2. ZB22

    Simple, the best leader is one who has a balanced life; simple in concept, difficult in execution. Balance means having a family, job, social life, conduct themselves morally, and ensure their community is a safe place to be. It is morally incumbent upon each of us to make sure this happens. Failure to do so means moral failure for that person.

  3. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Correct, Gen Satterfield. Good leaders avoid many bad things in life. I have found, in my personal experiences, that it is not the person who makes one major mistake in life and is lost (or a fool) but one who consistently and repeatedly makes the same mistake over and over that is the greatest fool of all because they have failed to learn from their own errors and from others. I have discovered that to do well in life, the first thing you must do is be honest with yourself and with others. Doing so keeps you focused on the path toward being a better person.

    1. Yusaf from Texas

      Well said (or written). Telling the truth is not what we are taught but to get ahead at all costs. This is not a philosophy of life that helps you but does harm.

  4. Ronny Fisher

    Sitting back in my easy chair with my dog at my side and reading your article. Proverbs 10:18 …whoever spreads slander is a fool. Some people find it easy to badmouth others, to spread false reports. Perhaps it makes them feel better, superior, or more important. Whatever the motive, God’s word calls the slanderer a fool!

  5. Eric Coda

    The first article in your series, “Don’t be a Jerk” is one of my favorites. Thanks for creating this “don’ts” list for us. I recommend that your next one is “Don’t be a Fool.” There are many ways to tackle this topic. First, people will take advantage of your good graces and good nature. Second, they will fool (or trick) you into doing something not in your best interests. Please use my recommendation.

    1. Georgie B.

      I like your recommendation, Eric. Yes, people do take advantage; those that are not good people.

  6. Greg Heyman

    All I can say is that you must have had a long list of great friends over your lifetime. You are always writing about them (including a few girlfriends that also piqued your interest). One measure of a good man is the number of great friends that he has.

    1. JT Patterson

      Yes, another interesting twist on common foils of leadership. When you tell a story, it is best to make it personal. That is what this article does. It grabs your attention on something personal and then encourages you to follow it. Just listing facts is boring and so many shy away.

    2. Janna Faulkner

      Good comment. I was thinking something similar. Gen. Satterfield is good at using his past experiences and his friends to help make a point. Only if we all had this level of experience.

  7. Dale Paul Fox

    Thank you Gen. Satterfield for an informative blog post on leader don’ts. You have a nice mini-series developing here. I recommend you continue it and thanks for links to previous blog posts in the series.

  8. Fred Weber

    Great article once again. Thanks for making my Saturday morning with a spot-on article about what “leaders don’t do.”

    1. Scotty Bush

      I agree and this is why I’m a big fan of Gen. Satterfield’s blog.

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