Evergreen Leaders Need To Be Selfish Every Single Day

Dr. James Rouse

May 18, 2015

Be selfish. For one hour a day.

Your Evergreen company depends on it.

The most successful leaders I’ve coached over the years have a linchpin habit. This is something they do every single morning that launches a prosperous day. I call this the “hour of power.” It involves a combination of healthy eating, mental focus and physical movement.

For breakfast, do your best to consume a whole-food combination of lean proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates to build the perfect and powerful combination of serotonin, dopamine and acetylcholine — these are brain compounds that support positivity, motivation and focus.

In addition to eating a nourishing breakfast (which can be kept simple), take the time during this hour of power to partake in your favorite exercise for 20 to 30 minutes, visualize your goals and write in a journal. I also recommend meditation. For people new to this idea, you can find hundreds of easy, guided meditations online that will help get you started. Ideally, set your intentions for five minutes and work solely on being conscious of your breath. Over time, try to build to 20 minutes every morning. Meditation builds the size and power of your brain’s gray matter, which makes for more brilliant, creative and courageous thinking. It also lowers stress hormones and reduces systemic inflammation, thereby slowing down the aging process and reducing your risk for chronic disease.

If you don’t have a full hour in the morning — and I highly recommend not skimping on sleep — here is an abbreviated 10-minute version of the hour of power. Do two minutes of visualization, two minutes of movement, two minutes of meditation, two minutes of journaling and two minutes of eating an avocado. Before bed, try to add in another 10 to 20 minutes of meditation to calm your mind and help build your natural sleep chemistry.

Obviously, being healthy in this capacity is better for you as an individual. Physical and mental health helps you feel happier, more positive and more energetic. But how does an hour of power affect your Evergreen company’s team, your customers, your suppliers and other key stakeholders?

Science tells us that people are wired neurologically to connect with emotional energy. All human beings are equipped with something called mirror neurons. These are neurological copycat systems. When we are near someone oozing positivity and presence in the moment, we emulate it. This fosters trust and creativity. If we have a leader who is modeling health, happiness and conviction, we will mimic it. If our leader is an overweight smoker who is miserable on the job — even if he says otherwise — well, I think you can guess the outcome. A famous Harvard study shows that positivity is contagious: A happy person increases their next-door neighbor’s chance of being happy 34 percent.

So focusing on yourself first is imperative as you build a lasting company. But please don’t overintellectualize this notion: There is no need for you to try to become a mirror-neuron ninja. Just focus on becoming a person of great character and well-being for the sake of lifting your own mood and creative energy, and let these actions translate the message through passive example to your team. By the way, your wave of self-care will also have a positive effect on your immediate family. Research shows that our vitality, positivity, character, confidence, kindness and love are powerful influences that can improve their chances of becoming more successful, happy and fulfilled. Simply being awesome is contagious.

And while the hour of power is tremendously important on a daily basis, it’s equally important for you to allow your own neurons the opportunity to mirror inspirational behavior of other value-aligned leaders. Welcome to the tribe of genius that is this Evergreen community. By connecting with other Evergreen leaders attending the Tugboat Institute Summit this summer, you are giving yourself an opportunity to mirror the courage, inspiration, values, ideas and commitments of a group of people you admire. Show up as a contributor, step outside of your comfort zone and give your best self into that place of service, learning, community and involvement.

When you return to your life Monday morning, you will carry this epic sense of community and positive energy back to your office. There it will flourish among your immediate colleagues and spread from there.

Outliers in leadership who do things that are unconventional need to nourish and stretch themselves every single day. So take time for your own daily hour of power. It’s worth it.

Dr. James Rouse is a naturopathic doctor, entrepreneur, trainer, author, nutrition consultant, impassioned athlete and Ironman competitor. He is well known for his “Optimum Wellness” TV segments and for serving as QVC’s Wellness Specialist for several years. Dr. Rouse has written 11 books, including the recent “Think Eat Move Thrive: The Practice for an Awesome Life,” co-authored with his wife, Dr. Debra Rouse.

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