The body and mind are intricately linked and profoundly complex systems that require constant care and mindfulness. If you disregard one area of your personal biological ecosystem, you may face knock-on effects in a seemingly unrelated area. I've realised that neglecting my health in the race to advance my business is a frivolous shortcut - we are most productive and successful when we are emotionally and physically in top form.
Fuelling up with high-quality nutrition is vital in keeping your body and mind working at their maximum potential. For a moment, imagine your body as a distribution line in a business: one weak link will disrupt the whole chain.
Good food is the “biological capital injection” vital to the entrepreneur's success. Nutritious dining won't just pay personal dividends - I passionately believe good nutrition is good business.
Here are 4 foods that I've found to be "brain fuel" for me and may help you be at your sharpest in 2014:
Scientists first noticed the benefits of oily fish by observing the Inuit tribes of Greenland and Northern Canada. Experts were intrigued that the race had an extremely low occurrence of cardiovascular disease, strokes and Alzheimer’s. It has also been proven that regular consumption of fish lowers blood pressure which in turn, will help to reduce your stress levels, making you a more productive entrepreneur. Omega-3’s also help to boost serotonin levels, ensuring your brain remains chemically balanced.
Pumpkin seeds can be eaten with just about anything. They contain zinc which has been proven to help the body to fight off colds and boost brain function. Although the exact link is unknown, some claim zinc can help to increase dopamine production which has been linked to improved motivation, enhanced decision making, and mood. In business, leaders are made (and lost) on the tough decisions they make, so the importance of foods that enhance this side of our brain can't be underestimated.
In the world of business, first impressions are vital. High amounts of vitamin A in spinach will ensure your skin remains clear and healthy. The green leafed vegetable also contains Vitamin K which ensures an optimised nervous system and a boosted brain function. It also has anti-inflammatory properties which can help those suffering from migraines (a serious detriment to your decision making process). Not feeling as sharp as you once were? This vegetable also slows age-related brain decline, keeping your mind sharp and functioning to the best of its ability.
Contrary to popular belief, the almond is not a nut. It is actually a seed of a flower closely-related to the rose family. They are the perfect snack to boost your entrepreneurial power and have a wide range of astounding health benefits. Eating 23 almonds per day will provide your body with the perfect amount of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, vitamin E and potassium
If you are inclined to put on weight, almonds can also help. Almonds contain magnesium which helps your body regulate blood sugar levels, keeping sugar cravings at bay.
It doesn’t matter how savvy a businessman you are or how innovative your ideas become, if you're in poor health, your execution will suffer. And in business, execution is everything. On a fundamental level, your health is the most important asset you have. Protect it and invest in it.
Being an entrepreneur, we have our mundane duties: preserve cashflow, scale up volumes, build our brands. But....as Bhudda wisely said, to keep your body in good health is also a duty. You owe it to yourself, your loved ones, and to your business.
On a more uplifting note, here's a quote I'd like to leave you with this week:
Dennis Waitley, the American best-selling author, once said 'failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end…' Failure is often misunderstood, a dirty word, only to be whispered in hushed tones. Some of those closest to me have yet to achieve their full potential because of their subconscious fear of the ‘F’ word. In certain cultures, failing is taboo and carries individual and familial shame, like a metaphorical scarlet letter burning on one’s forehead.
In high school, I was a sprinter. Metaphorically that is. I took on way too much. I wanted to make it big, and do it fast. My ambition and enthusiasm for education, sports and extracurricular activities exceeded my output levels, mainly because I was spread too thin. ‘The fruit of patience is very sweet,’ my father repeated reassuringly over breakfast as I gulped down my hot chocolate, but the Urdu proverb didn’t resonate at all with a young man eager to take on the world.
Winston Churchill once wisely said 'it's a riddle, wrapped in a mystery, inside an enigma.' He was addressing the nation in a BBC broadcast, speculating on how Russia may or may not respond in the wake of one of the most uncertain times in recent history - World War II. Leaders are often judged by how they manage uncertainty: when the stakes are high, yet our control of the possible outcomes is limited. At times like this, working out probabilities and other forms of statistical analysis are of little use. Great leaders that have triumphed over the beast of uncertainty are often those that have relied on calculated intuition and instinct.
Legend has it that way back in third century Rome, Emperor Claudius II wished for a radical transformation of his army. While his soldiers were loyal and dedicated, he believed that they could give more. He wanted the success of the military to be each soldier's only meaningful purpose in life. Such men were hard to find; although many were passionate and had risked their lives for the Empire, the soldiers had their loved ones and family life outside of the army. The Emperor saw this as a weakness and a distraction, so he took the bold and ruthless step - and forbade marriage altogether.