In a recent interview, legendary multi-billionaire investor, Warren Buffet, was asked for his secrets to success.
He must have been asked the question umpteen times, but he politely listed what he considered to be his personal golden rules.
There were no surprises at all. ‘Find your passion and stick with it’, ‘Be persistent’, ‘Don’t follow the crowd’, ‘Know when to quit’, ‘Limit what you borrow’, and others all put in an appearance.
But anyone with any business experience would have answered similarly. Indeed, Buffet is the first to admit he has no magic formula; as far as he’s concerned, he simply applies common sense.
I was nevertheless taken aback because one crucial rule, ‘Look after your health’, was missing from his list.
As a healthy octogenarian still working a full day, Buffet probably considers it so obvious as not to be worth mentioning. But it is. Just look around and see how many managers ignore, or even abuse, their health!
Getting your priorities right
Without your health, you are of little use to anyone, including yourself, your business, family or community. It should always be right at the top of your personal list of golden rules.
My wife and I have often discussed life’s priorities, and have never disagreed on them: health first, family second and business last. But keeping them in this order is the problem!
Dr Jim Loehr, a psychologist and the co-founder of the High Performance Institute in Orlando in the US, says that high performance is virtually impossible without good health in the following four key areas:
Physical: The two most important elements in building and maintaining physical health are exercise and watching what you eat. As a farmer, you might feel that your lifestyle gives you more exercise than most, but you’re fooling yourself.Most of your time is probably spent behind the wheel of your bakkie, at your desk or in meetings.
Proper exercise means regular exertion to the point of perspiring. It involves gym workouts, tennis, squash, cycling, running or some similar activity three or four times a week.Good eating means the right food in moderation at the right time.
Not skipping breakfast (as a way of dieting), grabbing lunch on the run, and tucking into a big, heavy evening meal.
In their work with high-performance athletes and managers, Loehr and his team have also found that regular rest/ recovery periods are a crucial part of maintaining peak physical capacity.
A lunchtime nap is a great way to do this.
Emotional: Building and maintaining healthy relationships with family and friends is a major contributor to emotional health, as they provide support and give you perspective.
In addition, we are all born with emotional characteristics, some of which affect our performance negatively. It’s important to realise that we can control and work these negative traits out of our systems.
Negative emotions lead to frustration, anger and resentment, and drain energy; in contrast, positive emotions ignite energy.
Remember, too, that a good workout is an effective method of getting rid of stress and other negative emotions.
Mental: A healthy brain is essential in order to remain focused and emotionally positive. Having the knowledge and skills to do the job are key, of course, but you also need to create a positive environment where you can be inspired and creative.
Spiritual: In this context, this does not mean being religious. It means taking time out to explore, question and develop your deepest values to ‘find’ yourself.
It may involve going off entirely on your own for a few days to rediscover what drives, motivates and energises you. Don’t take your spiritual capacity for granted; it needs hard work!
Peter Hughes is a business and management consultant with 30 years’ farming experience.