Secret weapons of successful leaders: Simplify
Tuesday, September 19, 2017
In Part 1 of this article, we discussed sleep as one of the most powerful secret weapons of successful leaders. In this article, we will review two more tricks of the trade and ways to implement them right now.
Black blazer, jeans, big watch
We know the ability to make high-stakes decisions in difficult situations is a required skill for successful leaders. But only recently have we started to understand that the number of decisions we make in a day can cause decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue is the idea that we only have the capacity to make so many clear decisions within the day. Thus, no matter how big or small, each decision — from what we are going to wear to whether we should outsource manufacturing to China — drains our well of decision-making resources.
Thus, another secret weapon of successful leaders is to remove some basic decisions from their daily routine.
The first place many leaders start is their wardrobe. As President Barack Obama noted in this Fast Company article: "I don't want to make decisions about what I'm eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make."
In addition to Obama, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and many others forward-thinking leaders have streamlined their wardrobe choices. In fact, in the tech world, which often leads the way in progressive workplace trends, informal uniforms have been around for a while.
Though many of us may not be ready to wear the same thing every day, adopting a simplified approach, like Project 333, can be adopted immediately and have a significant impact on our morning routine.
Make the bed
Along the same lines as eliminating decisions, following routines is another secret weapon of many successful leaders.
In his tome "Tools of the Titans," Tim Ferris illustrates countless ways successful people swear by routines. From morning routines to eating, sleeping and meditation rituals, successful people rely on these practiced sequences to maintain mindfulness, reduce stress or improve the quality of their sleep.
Unfortunately, many of our routines are less nourishing. Spending 20 minutes getting the family out of the door every morning, getting stuck in rush hour traffic every evening or consistently skipping lunch may happen routinely, but they are not going to help us be better leaders.
Instead, the first step is to try reshaping one of these daily occurrences from draining to replenishing.
While it may seem counterintuitive, waking up 10 minutes earlier can help calm a hectic morning. Shifting focus from wasting time on the highway to interesting content on a podcast can help reduce stress on the commute. And even if it seems impossible to squeeze lunch into the day, making a smoothie ahead of time is a healthy habit that doesn't require a huge shift in the mid-day momentum.
Most of us will not lead billion-dollar companies or install sleep pods for our employees, but we can be more successful leaders.
By stopping the cycle of unhealthy work ethics, reducing decision fatigue and incorporating more sustainable routines in our day, we can become better leaders almost immediately. All of which can have significant, positive long-term effects on our lives and those of our employees.
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