Wellness and Happiness are Important for Leaders
Randy Wolken, President & CEO

How do leaders handle the stresses of their work? What tools are essential for success? I rank a leader’s wellness and happiness near the top of the list. Leaders are conveyors of hope. Leaders who are not leading lives where they take care of their health and are happy have a very hard time displaying genuine hope. Being well and happy is crucial for a leader today.

It has never been more difficult to be a leader. The stress can be nonstop. The demands can be nearly 24/7. Each day our best-laid plans are quickly unraveled. What is a leader to do? Start by focusing on wellness and happiness.

A lot of research has been done on what makes people healthy and happy. Until more recently, these areas of research have been mostly ignored – especially happiness – when it comes to leaders. But, a growing body of evidence suggests that the best leaders focus a lot of their time and effort on living lives that allow them to be healthy and happy. It is the foundation upon which they are building successful careers. It’s what I have noticed about the leaders that are doing well – they are taking care of themselves so they can take care of those around them.

For me, I have made it my mission to strive to be healthy and happy. Being a leader is demanding and being at my best is necessary. I work to build daily habits that allow me to exercise, eat healthier, rest more, de-stress, and sleep better. It takes real work. But I have found it worth the effort. Living healthier lives is a goal we can all set that will truly help us be better leaders. I have found that being healthier is something that cannot wait until tomorrow. My efforts must be today – and daily. I have found it necessary to develop daily habits that I keep score of. This way I don’t put it off until tomorrow, which is what can happen in a busy life.

Happiness is another goal of mine. It’s too easy to let the stress of life get us down. What is the number one thing I hear from leaders when I talk to them? I hear how busy they are. I understand that this going to likely be the case for all of us. However, how we busy ourselves is very important to our success. Are we happy as we work? If not, it’s time to change the way we work!

Happiness, like healthy living, requires a commitment. Two of my daily habits help me remain upbeat and happy. First, I start each day with gratitude. Being grateful helps me be passionate about my day and the work I will be doing. I have a plan for each day. It usually changes, at least in some way, during the day. However, starting with gratitude helps me better navigate all of the challenges in my day. Second, I attempt to smile throughout my day. If I am truly grateful and passionate about my life, I cannot help but smile while I do it. I make it a point to thank people for their efforts and smile at everyone I meet. Something as simple as a smile can increase the joy felt by both the person smiling and the person smiled at. The very act of smiling makes us feel better. And, it is contagious. Most people will smile back at you when you smile at them. There are plenty of other ways I work on being a happy person. These two ways – gratitude and smiling – are important to my overall happiness.

How happy and healthy are you right now? Are there ways to increase your happiness and healthiness? How can you encourage others to value being healthier and happier? Do you keep score of the daily habits that help you be happier and healthier? What could you start doing today that would help? Make being a happy and healthy leader a top priority. Doing so will make the journey you are on so much better for you and those you care so much about.