The Power of Leadership

Executive Vitality™: Letting Go of All or Nothing

Executive Vitality™: Letting Go of All or NothingA condition of executive life, and probably life in general in the 21st century, is acute and chronic lack of time. Executives tend to be type A, perfectionistic, and can tend toward an all-or-nothing approach to many things, including physical activity. It is hard to find the hours every day to devote to physical fitness in addition to the challenges of leadership, family, friends, community… self.

Well, here is some good news from a January 9, 2017 publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled Association of “Weekend Warrior” and Other Leisure Time Physical Activity Patterns With Risks for All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality. If JAMA is not your cup of tea, the study was summarized by The New York Times. The good news is that Weekend Warriors do experience survival benefits.

In brief, the study shows that if you participate in a physical activity for a couple of hours on the weekend (“weekend warrior” style), the health and longevity benefits are comparable to that of someone who fits in regular daily workouts all week long.

In other words, the excuse of “I just can’t do it every day” is no longer an excuse for not doing it at all, if it ever was! The benefits of weekend warrior exercise fly in the face of the “all or nothing” mentality.

There are a lot of instances where an all or nothing approach puts you back two steps instead of forward one or two. Think about:

  • “I had an ice cream last night; I might as well have a piece of pie today.” Not a good idea. Intake of more calories will obviously not help your health maintenance efforts. Accept that even though you went beyond “nothing,” “all” is not going to be useful. Leave it at moderate.
  • “I can’t finish writing this book this week so I won’t write anything longer than a tweet.” This would not make any sense. Congratulate yourself on what you did write so far and finish it when you can.
  • “I only have half an hour for coaching my direct report on Wednesday, so I will put it off until next time.” This is not a good idea. I am not condoning giving short shrift to a coaching session; however, maintaining the continuity and commitment to coaching direct reports is paramount.

Where else in your life and leadership journey do you see “all or nothing” not being the most productive approach? Where do you have opportunities to benefit from chipping away at something rather than trying to go for completion in one sitting?

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