Organizational Health

Inoculate Your Mind: Individual & Organizational Health

November 10th, 2015  | 

Published in Organization Health

It’s flu season.

Have you gotten your flu shot?

Most of us know the idea behind getting a flu shot is to introduce into the body a tiny amount of the very bacteria that would make us sick, thereby producing a less severe infection while inducing immunity to the sickness.

The practice of inoculation has been around for centuries, and is generally thought to have earned widespread adoption for the prevention of smallpox.

For leaders looking to finish the year with a flourish, it’s worth remembering that it’s difficult to inspire organizational health when you’re not at the peak of your physical health.

It’s also a good reminder to inoculate your mind in order to be at your best mentally.

It’s All in Your Mind

In 1937, Napoleon Hill wrote Think and Grow Rich in which he introduced the importance of positive thinking as a condition for success.

“Whatever the mind can conceive and believe,” Hill wrote, “it can achieve.”

By the time of his death in 1970, Hill’s book had sold 20 million copies.More recently, medical evidence supports the power of positive thinking. Health experts now view biological and psychological causes as being intertwined.

“You really can’t separate the brain and the body, because psychology is biology,” James F. Jones, M.D., a chronic fatigue expert with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told PsychologyToday.com. “Everything that takes place in the brain is chemical or electrical. You can’t have the one without the other.”

5 Steps to Be Your Best

To produce high levels of individual and organizational health and performance, follow these five steps.

1. Take time to reflect. Phil Jackson won 11 NBA championships, more than any other coach. “When the mind is allowed to relax,” Jackson says, “inspiration often follows. That’s why I subscribe to the philosophy of the late Satchel Paige, who said, ‘Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.'”

So invest a little time and change your surroundings to put yourself in a more relaxed frame of mind. Take a train trip over a weekend. Or check into a luxury hotel for a one-person mini-vacation. What about a stroll along the sea shore, a hike on a mountain trail or a walk in the country to free your mind, get your heart pumping and your creative juices flowing?

Going away is not mandatory. Finding solitude for reflection is. For your quiet time alone, bring paper, blank journals, pencils and pens. Bring your laptop and mobile devices if you like, but make sure you’re focused on your personal quest and not the gizmo that will surely interrupt your thinking.

Ask: Am I willing to invest in uninterrupted alone time for myself?

2. Be clear about what you want. Most business leaders aspire to their positions because they envision a better life for themselves. More freedom. More personal fulfillment. More of the good life. Their natural abilities and passion to succeed help make them winners.

As their responsibility grows, some leaders gradually discover they’re working harder than ever. They may have cool toys and call the shots, but they may also find they’re having less fun. Work-life balance is a joke. The idea of a “better life” is an elusive goal. Sound familiar? Then answer these two questions: What do I want out of life? Is my business helping me get it or keeping me from it?

Make a list of personal goals that define winning on your terms using a goal-setting approach I developed called “The 7 Fs.” The exercise prompts you to consider what seven significant life categories— Family, Friends, Faith (spiritual), Fitness, Financial, Function (career) and Fun— will look like by a given time period. Download the free 7Fs template here.

Ask: What is it that I passionately want to achieve for myself?

3. Set deadlines. My wife, Janet, says, “If you want to get something done around the house, throw a party.” As the date of the party approaches it’s amazing how much gets accomplished. A deadline is one of the most powerful tools we have available to us for getting things done. What you do between when you make the commitment and when the deadline comes due is up to you.

Whatever you decide, your deadline is your party. And for high-performing leaders, the party is always just around the corner.

Ask: What contract am I willing to make with myself to hold myself accountable?

4. Identify your inner circle. The people on your team— in life, in sports, in business— are important because none of us ever accomplishes anything meaningful alone. The talent on your team is the best predictor of your future success.  Organizational success. Individual success.

“My philosophy,” said Phil Jackson, “is that you can’t motivate players with speeches. You have motivated players that you draft. You cannot teach competitiveness.”  Perhaps it’s time to retain an executive coach. If elite-level athletes have coaches, shouldn’t an elite-level leader?  Iron sharpens iron.

Ask: Who are five people I spend most of my time with? Are they helping me or holding me back?

5. Rejoice. We are fulfilled when we accomplish something meaningful. We all have dreams. It’s true that some of us dream bigger and are more focused about turning those dreams into reality. It’s also true that things will not always go our way. But when we are clear about what we really want, set a deadline for achieving it, and then surround ourselves with people who bring our best, the chances are good we’ll hit what we’re aiming for.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns,” said Abraham Lincoln, “or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”

Ask: What’s the impact of achieving my goals? What’s the impact of not achieving them?

The human mind is a remarkable tool. It constructs roadblocks that don’t exist, and imagines possibilities previously unseen.

So inoculate your mind to be your best.

Then free your mind, allow it to soar and fly along with it to a new destination.

About the Author: Greg Bustin advises some of the world’s most admired companies and leaders, and he’s dedicated a career to working with CEOs and the leadership teams of hundreds of companies in a range of industries. He’s facilitated more than 200 strategic planning sessions, and he’s delivered more than 500 keynotes and workshops on five continents. His fifth leadership book—How Leaders Decide: A Timeless Guide to Making Tough Choices—examines 52 of history’s greatest triumphs and tragedies and will be published in 2019 by Simple Truths.

Sign up for my free bimonthly email button