[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).
- Leader Don’ts #4: Move your Foxhole: https://www.theleadermaker.com/leader-donts-4-move-your-foxhole/
- Leader Don’ts #3: Accept Defeat: https://www.theleadermaker.com/leader-donts-3-accept-defeat/
- Leader Don’ts #2: be a Liar: https://www.theleadermaker.com/leader-donts-2-be-a-liar/
- Leader Don’ts #1: be a Jerk: https://www.theleadermaker.com/leader-donts-1-be-a-jerk/