ThePowerMBA – How to be your optimal self

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To be honest, I wasn’t expecting to hit a module like this in ThePowerMBA.

With some exposure to other similar programs, I would expect the curriculum to be purely business focussed with lots of Gary Vee level hustling.

It was a pleasant surprise to get an interlude in the form of the Leadership module and to get clarity on the three key aspects that any business leaders and entrepreneurs have to take care of first.

Just like what the cabin crews would tell you – put on your own safety vest before you do so for your dependants.

Without taking care of yourself, your business or department is just sitting on fragile pillars.

According to ThePowerMBA, there are three key areas to look at when it comes to self-evaluation – Body, Mind and Soul.

Body

This pertains to your exercise, nutrition and recovery. 

Are you exercising enough? Are you paying attention to what you put into your body and are you giving your body enough time to recover from the daily grind?

I was failing on all fronts when I was running my first business. I barely exercised, I binged on junk food and sleep was always an afterthought.

Needless to say, my business suffered and so did I.

Maybe it has to do with age but I am paying more attention to my body now as I’m inching towards 42.

I exercise almost every day, following the regime I created on the Nike Training App. Before the Covid lockdown, I was a member at Virgin Active and F45 pumping irons running myself flat.

Nutrition did not come together with my exercise as I use it as an excuse to eat whatever I want.

But then I realised, unless I work out 3 hours a day, I can’t take the crap I’m feeding myself.

Above all, doing my almost daily 16-hours fast (I use Fastic to keep track), I also reduced my intake of sugar, caffeine, nicotine and alcohol. 

The combination helped me to be less jittery – something that I got whenever I’m deep in the trenches. It is made more obvious when I need to speak on stage.

Giving myself plenty of sleep came after I read Matt Walker’s book “Why We Sleep”.

As one of the book recommendations by Bill Gates, the author deep dives into why sleep is our superpower, and one of the chapters encouraged me to give up caffeine.

Since then, I seldom have anything less than 6 hours of sleep and clock between 7 to 9 hours.

I also use Sleep Cycle to track my sleep and it is fun to listen to my own (and my wife’s) snores.

Mind

When it comes to mind, we are talking about Mindfulness, Emotional flexibility and Space for renewal and connections.

I had always felt meditation was somewhat kumbaya kind of stuff.

But as I continue to face mounting stress from my work and personal life, I felt I needed something to centre myself.

I remember reading about meditation in Steve Job’s autobiography. 

It wasn’t the first time I read about someone famous doing meditation. They can’t be all wrong.

So I gave it a go.

Fortunately, Headspace came out around that time and the guided meditation helped the beginner I was to take baby steps in this new field.

I actually gave up after a few months but gave it another chance.

This time it sticks and I attribute meditation to be key in me giving up nicotine. I probably tried quitting more than 50 times before and it never worked.

With meditation, it just seemed so much easier. The same goes for caffeine and alcohol.

I don’t do guided meditation anymore as I moved to an unguided one. You can use an app like Oak to provide the timer and interval bells.

Since meditation is all about being in the present, it helps me to be more aware of my emotions, too. Outbursts dropped drastically and I now often catch myself before the volcano erupts. 

That gives me time to put a lid on it and find ways to better calm myself down – usually through breathing exercises.

In our increasingly distracting world, where everything is vying for your attention, it is important to disconnect.

It means setting boundaries so you are not a constant green light. For me, this means not reading the news, unfollowing most of my connections on Facebook (you can use Nudge to auto unfollow) and permanently put my phone to silent + giving myself screen time limits.

I suggest checking out this video by Tim Ferriss to learn more:

Soul

This covers Meaning and Belonging.

Have you heard about the interaction between President Kennedy and the janitor at NASA? 

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy was visiting the NASA space station. He saw a janitor walking and carrying a broom. 

President Kennedy interrupted the tour and walked over to the man. He introduced himself and then asked, “What are you doing?”

“Well, Mr President,” the janitor responded, “I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”

For most people doing this job, they are just cleaning the building. 

But he understood that his contribution was a part of a larger part of the organization.

Now whether this really happened or not has been debated. The point of the story still remains.

Often in our daily grind, we lose sight of the bigger picture and how we as small little pieces of the jigsaw puzzle actually play a part in the entire portrait.

I would suggest allocating time to reflect on matters like this and to even schedule them regularly into your calendar.

This is something I learned from Jeff Weiner’s LinkedIn post about the importance of scheduling nothing.

On belonging, I’m glad I have a big family who is there for me. My circle of friends is small and I even once contemplated joining a church just for the community.

Instead, I spent my time writing and that allowed me to create my own community.

The offshoot into podcasting and YouTubing further expanded the community and even opportunities.


For more information on this, go to ThePowerMBA to learn about Leading Yourself.

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