How did you do this year?

The end of December offers a chief opportunity for self-evaluation. In the past 12 months, have you been on track toward sustainable long-term success?


One important area for self-evaluation is the maintenance of one of your greatest assets. You take care of your body, budget, and car. But do you also see the importance of the regular care and feeding of your mind? For a leader, a clear, strong mind is hugely important.


As you evaluate your past year, here are 4 key questions every leader must ask toward that aim:


  1. Have you regularly taken at least one day off per week?


Everyone needs at least one day a week that allows a change of pace from regular work.


In this age of instant availability, it’s easy to be always at work, even though you’re not physically in the office. You’re constantly researching new products or checking e-mail, Twitter streams, client contact lists, or voice messages.


But an effective leader needs to have at least one day a week where his nose isn’t held to the grindstone. Preferably two.


An old adage says a man cannot do seven days’ work in seven days. But he can do seven days’ work in six days.


Have you regularly taken the time off you need?


  1. Do you have at least one hobby?


The older you get, the harder it is to have hobbies. Other activities crowd in, and hobbies seem selfish or childish.


But the exact opposite is true. A healthy hobby allows your mind to recreate, recharge, and refresh. It allows you to be a better you.


Some leaders golf. Some run. Some ride dirt bikes or ski or play racquetball or strum a guitar.


It sounds a bit random, but I know a well-educated professional who carves tops—little wooden toys that kids spin around. A few years back he set up a woodworking lathe in a shop behind his house. Whenever the pressures of his job get too much, he goes out to his shop and carves wood.


  1. Have you read at least four books you      wanted to read?


Sixteen hours after the Twin Towers crumbled and fell, Rudy Giuliani, then mayor of New York City, stumbled home to get some rest. It was 2:30 a.m., but instead of sleeping, he opened Winston Churchill’s biography and began to read.


Giuliani was impressed with the people of his city, and believed they deserved a leader to match them. The Churchill he looked to for guidance was the Churchill of 1940. The man who led England through its darkest hour.


Leaders read books for growth, education, inspiration, entertainment, and advice.


A best practice is to read one book per season you truly want to read—4 books per year. Keep the book on your bedside table and read some each night. A book a month is even better.


  1. Were you silent a portion of each day?     


Some leaders always have the volume set to 11. It doesn’t matter if it’s the car radio, TV, IPod, or everyday conversations of life.


But part of a healthy life means allowing yourself space for contemplation. Silence is golden.


What good things would happen in your life if, once a day, you purposely turned everything off and gave your mind a rest?


Okay, how did you do?


The point is not to beat yourself up if you fell short in an area. But to be honest when evaluating yourself. Then set new goals and press forward.


A clear, strong mind is vital for long term success. How well are you taking care of yours?


Question: What are other good ways you take care of your mind?





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