Google, and my body, told me that good health is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise. But, what about our brains? What’s the nutrition protocol for the captain upstairs? And does it matter?
It matters, a lot. I call this healthy diet, “Brainfood.” The results are mindset, purpose, performance, and less stress; because, good content, i.e. brainfood cleans that lens you look through, helping keep your compass pointed towards your true north.
Years ago, after a big promotion and moving my family for it, the honeymoon faded and the stress with overwhelmingness caught up in a big way. I was charged with taking over an existing region and management team, building out a sales and operations division, recruiting new growth, and of course not messing it up along the way…ALL eyes were on me. Stress fatigue was seeping in; this was not an option because bad decisions, bad attitude, bad leadership, and failure were not options. I became very conscious, very quickly of my situation.
What now? OWN IT!
I took a step back to see clearly, got mindful about the “opportunity,” not the stress, and made a conscious decision to OWN IT! I literally said to myself, “I got this! I want this! I welcome it!” Bring it ALL ON…because I am the leader. Embrace the suffering, right David Goggins?
In that clarity step back, I started with a mirror check, and realized I must take action to protect my mindset, fragile as it was becoming, or else the dominos would fall. I needed to crystallize my lens to focus on what I can and should control, and not get hung up in what I cannot control. Doing so would keep me present and conscious of that bigger game leaders need to play. This is mindfulness. More so, starting with owning it was emPOWERing!
My wife and I acted by cutting down the noise; that constant non-essential recurring and negative newsfeed looking for ratings. When our young daughter had nightmares about what she overheard on the local news, that’s a problem…
Next, I turned UP the good stuff! I began listening, nay, consuming podcasts, Audible books, TED talks, etc. I consumed with an insatiable appetite during commute, a run, hike, or walk. The more brainfood I consumed, the more I craved.
Immediately, that day, my mindset improved. I felt better. Then, so did my clarity, vision for the job, ability to problem solve, and better yet, I saw the chessboard and strategic moves as a leader. Magically…the stress transitioned to empowerment, because ownership took over, and that is a powerful feeling! I consciously called this BRAINFOOD to mark the purpose and desired results; thus, inspiring StreetLevel Leadership as a mission to help ignite the leader within others!
There was a shift in my life, therefore, I wanted to share, and use this as means of coaching versus managing. I changed our weekly manager meeting ritual into a 50/50. First half normal housekeeping, second half brainfood. Simply, I assigned a podcast each week for discussion the following, which was a catalyst to inspire and align their mindsets beyond my normal soapbox, especially with content relative to us. And then, magically once again, it happened…their performance improved, we aligned better as a team, and I went from managing to LEADING.
5 Steps to BRAINFOOD:
- Start by asking yourself, what’s interesting, what am I curious about, what am I drawn to? If you had a long flight (remember those), what magazines would you reach for? I seek out interviews of great people by great people, thought leadership, documentaries, and nonfiction historical stories.
- Listen and/or Read? I don’t read like I used to, but I listen whenever I can; drive time, a walk, run, or hike, etc.
- Seek and Subscribe: Podcasts, Audible, Masterclass, MorningBrew, and TED, to name a few. Looking for a good book, check out my Bookshelf.
- Action: Turn down the news and turn UP Brainfood! Take a 45 minute walk and listen to a 45 minute Podcast. Go for a hike with an Audible book. Watch a TED talk before bed. Turn down the news and subscribe to MorningBrew. You can easily weave listen time throughout your day if reading time is tougher.
- Share and ask your village: Talk about it with others! Seek those who enjoy the subject. Share what you’ve listened to and ask for recommendations. This builds a village of mindset around you!
Everyone is a leader, despite your title. Brainfood feeds the leader within. That is StreetLevel Leadership, and you are a StreetLevel LEADER, if you choose!
Go Forth and Succeed!