[May 27, 2020] Leaders are essential to other people. And since they are also vital to any team or group, leaders have a moral and leadership obligation to take care of themselves. We don’t have to like our leaders or agree with them, but followers have an equal duty to remind leaders to care for themselves.
Leaders should take care of, help and be good to themselves the same way they would take care of, help, and be good to others they value. Leaders, therefore, must conduct themselves habitually in a manner that allows some respect for their well-being — no alternative works.
“Imagine that a hundred people are prescribed a drug. Consider what happens next. One-third of them won’t fill the prescription. Half of the remaining sixty-seven will fill it, but won’t take the medication correctly. They’ll miss doses. They’ll quit taking it early. They might not even take it at all.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson, a psychologist at the University of Toronto.
Yet, unsurprisingly, leaders are notorious for not taking care of their health and spend little time and effort in a balanced life; physical fitness, mental rest and relaxation, proper nutrition, adequate sleep, and regular schedules. We’ve all abused ourselves by focusing our work on the care of others while we ignore our minds and bodies.
“People are better at filling and properly administering prescription medication to their pets than to themselves. That’s not good. Even from your pet’s perspective, it’s not good. Your pet (probably) loves you, and would be happier if you took your medication.” – Dr. Jordan Peterson
Leaders who treat themselves as if they were someone they were responsible for helping is good for others too. I witnessed several military leaders taken out of the battle early in a military operation because they simply didn’t take proper care of themselves. During the Second Battle of Fallujah, several Marine and Army officers I knew were MedEvac’ed out by helicopter after they failed to follow these principles. The two most common mistakes were not drinking enough water and not getting enough rest.
Leaders must look to the future and think clearly. A leader caring for himself can better share the load of the team, provide quick and reliable guidance, adapt swiftly, and enjoy mission success. This act means improving upon one’s health, expanding your knowledge, and strengthening one’s body.
A leader begins by treating themselves as if they were someone they were responsible for helping.