— by Romesh Pandita
Being an entrepreneur is mentally and physically demanding. Some entrepreneurs, though successful, remain in poor health for prolonged periods. Most successful leaders are not only physically fit but also adhere to a routine that allows them to remain in good physical health. Good leaders often don’t smoke and don’t drink in excess either. Most of the upscale gyms in large Indian cities are patronized by successful leaders; many of whom adhere to a strict fitness routine.
There are many reasons why a fit leader is much better than the unfit one. A few such reasons are elaborated below:
Fit Leaders Have More Energy And Are Productive
“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” This proverb comes from Benjamin Franklin - one of the founding fathers of the United States. Although Franklin lived centuries ago, his immortal words reveal that good health, wealth, and wisdom go hand in hand. Many leaders today who're unaware of his words, nonetheless, adhere unknowingly to his sound words.
A fit leader today is one who exercises regularly as doing so generates energy that can be expended throughout the workday. To be a successful entrepreneur, one must have energy and certainly, there's no better way to generate extra energy than by following a fitness regime. Being fit allows one to face the challenges of a day head on and allows one to thrive in a competitive business climate. Pushing oneself physically also allows one to have a certain tenacity and confidence in oneself which works favourably when interacting with people. Fit people also look better than those who are unfit, which naturally translates into such leaders possessing greater confidence which is essential for success.
Be More Confident And Creative
Studies show that that fluid IQ, the component of intelligence that allows us to learn new skills, decreases rapidly as we age. This drop in fluid IQ begins in the early to mid-20s and drops quickly. However, regular exercise, including weight training, lessens the drop in fluid IQ because it allows more oxygen to reach the brain. Hence, people who exercise regularly are able to learn new tasks and skills more easily as they age than those who don’t exercise. Certainly, the ability to learn new skills is vital to the success of every entrepreneur.
Studies also show that people can also increase their creativity by doing only moderate amounts of exercise every day. Hence those who are fit and take care of their health will find that they can tap into their creative side more easily than others. Being more creative and being able to learn new skills easier than others usually translates into greater self-confidence, which is essential to entrepreneurs who must lead a team.
Better Equipped to Face Challenges
One should not be gentle with oneself when exercising. An important reason for exercising is to push oneself further than what was thought possible. Every entrepreneur must be willing to come out of his or her professional comfort zone if they really want to make a mark. One of the best ways to create a larger comfort zone is by pushing oneself physically so that what was thought daunting in the beginning becomes child's play with time. When an entrepreneur enhances his or her comfort zone in the gym or in sport, it leads to an enhancement of their comfort zone in the workplace as well. Pushing oneself beyond one’s comfort zone increases one's stamina and allows one to grow mentally tougher. Both mental toughness and physical stamina are crucial for success in the workplace and an entrepreneur who has plenty of both has a better chance of success.
Fit People Are Happy People
Many people who are out of shape not only age faster than those who are fit, they are also unhappy. It has been conclusively proven that exercise releases endorphins, the natural feel-good chemicals in one's body, allowing those who exercise to generally feel happy during the day. Exercise also helps to lower stress because during an exercise routine, such as running or weight training, one’s mind is focused on the physical activity and everyday stressful events move to the back of the mind or are forgotten completely. Being an entrepreneur is among the most stressful jobs in the world and regular exercise will help entrepreneurs to unwind and be prepared to tackle the challenges of the next day. A fit entrepreneur will be a better leader because he or she will be able to tackle the challenges of the workday and not be bogged down by pressure.
Indian society has rediscovered the connection between physical fitness and good leadership, something the ancient Greeks knew well. Yet in addition to physical exercise, entrepreneurs must also network if they want to lead and succeed.