Leadercast Live 2018: Michael Hyatt


Self-care is imperative, said Michael during his talk at Leadercast Live 2018. He defined self-care as “the activities that make for a meaningful life outside of work while contributing to greater performance at work.”

Many leaders have bought into the idea of the hustle fallacy, believing that more work equals more gain, but Michael presented research that proved the opposite. Too many hours at the office lead to physical and relational pain, and self-neglect. Productivity, he says, is less about managing time and more about managing energy.

Michael shared that his own life changed when he adopted the double-win truth: the idea that work and self-care are symbiotic. Work gives confidence, joy and financial provision, while self-care gives you a clear mind, creativity and a well-rested body, enabling you to be your most productive self.

Practicing good self-care by sleeping enough, eating well, and engaging in meaningful hobbies and relationships gives us more energy to perform well, more edge to be creative, and more endurance for sustainable health and success. Click HERE to sign up for Michael's self-care starter kit.

3 Ways to Unlock the Benefits of Self-Care:

1) Make a commitment to taking good care of yourself.

2) Set hard boundaries around your workday and weekends to protect your margin. 

3) Set a goal of sleeping eight hours a night.

Watch the video to hear Michael's full talk from Leadercast Live 2018, and click HERE to download a printable PDF of these takeaways.

This is Elon Musk. And unlike me, he needs no introduction. He's the CEO of Tesla, of course. Many of you probably drive his cool electric cars. And the rest of us envy you and wanna drive them. He's also the CEO of SpaceX, which, get this, it's a company that want to colonize Mars. In fact, Musk intends to be buried there. This is not a guy who dreams small. This is a guy who has a vision that is quite, literally, interplanetary. It's no surprise that this kind of visionary leader commands our attention. I mean, we admire the scope of his ambition and his single-minded dedication to making his dreams a reality. And many leaders, perhaps you, want to emulate him. But when we try to do that, we come in to a serious problem. 

Yes, Musk is a genius. But he's also an incorrigible workaholic. In a 2010 interview, Musk advised entrepreneurs that they need to be "extremely tenacious" and then just work like hell. He said, you have to put in 80 to 100 hour weeks every week. He went on to explain, if other people are putting in 40 hour work weeks and you're putting in 100 hour work weeks, then even if you're doing the same thing you'll achieve in 4 months, what it takes them a year to achieve. Now, that is perfectly good advice for a robot. But you are not intended to work those kinds of hours. Even Musk himself admits that this can be something that's wearying. It's something that I call the hustle fallacy. And Musk admits that this can be wearying on us. 

And that this can produce a really high level of pain over time. And by pain, he means both physical and relational pain. For example, his first wife, Justine, said this, "Elon was obsessed with his work. When he was at home, his mind was elsewhere." And his kids experienced this same thing, with Musk writing, "What I find is I'm unable to be with them and still be on email." Yeah, right. We all know how that works. Lately, he's been sleeping so much on his couch at the Tesla factory, that his fans started a campaign to buy him a more comfortable couch. Caffeinated beverages used to fuel his break neck pace, until because of them, he started losing his peripheral vision. One lesson is clear from Musk's life, the hustle fallacy, leads to self-neglect.

Look, I get it. I've fallen into that same trap myself. In 1999, my career was booming. I had just written my first New York Times bestseller. I was on my way to being named the CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers. And I was squeezing in a dozen or so radio or television interviews a day. And from the outside, it looked like I was on this enormous winning streak. But inside, I was fried. I was totally out of shape. I wasn't sleeping well. I was rarely taking vacations. And I was constantly worried that I was sacrificing my family on the alter of my own ambition. The stress and the exhaustion finally caught up with me in a series of heart attack scares. And thankfully, they weren't heart attacks. They were panic attacks. But the last time I was in the ER, the doctor said to me, he said, "If you don't make some major lifestyle changes, the next time you're in here, it's gonna be the real thing." And it scared me to death. 

And that's when I began to realize that working 80 hour weeks, that was a little bit like Elon Musk early SpaceX rockets, ambitious but explosive. Thankfully, a series of small steps brought me back to better health. Better eating, a little exercise, leaving work early, spending more time with my family. Twenty years later, the gains are remarkable. I feel like I'm in the best shape of my life. I rarely work weeknights or on the weekends. I have plenty of time for my family, my friends, and my hobbies. And I get to spend month-long annual sabbaticals with my wife, Gail, to whom I've been married for 40 years. Thank you. But here's the point, it hasn't hurt my career either. In fact, it's fueled it. And I believe these two things can be symbiotic, they can fuel one another. 

Some assume that the hustle fallacy, the only alternative to that is what I call, the ambition brake. And this is when you refuse to short change your health and your family for the sake of your career. So you intentionally pump the brakes, throttle your career. But sadly, what you end up with is wasted potential and unfulfilled dreams. If I had to choose between those two, I'd like to think that I would choose health and family. But let's be honest, none of us wants to make that choice and thankfully, we don't have to. There's a third alternative and it's something that I call the double-win truth. When you're unwilling to compromise your contribution either at work or at home, like I said, they are symbiotic. They fuel one another. 

Your work gives you confidence, joy, and financial provision to bring home. And your health and home life, in turn, lend a clear mind, creativity, and a rested body to your work. That's the double-win truth. Now, I've seen it in my own life. When I traded in the hustle fallacy for self care, my career didn't suffer. I went on to be named the CEO of Thomas Nelson publishers. I began to see amazing things happening to my life. I started my own firm in 2011. We've grown 10 times in the last 5 years. Last year, "Inc." magazine named us as one of the fasting growing private companies in the U.S. And I tell you this not to brag but to say it's possible to go this third way, the double-win truth. It's an amazing return on a series of small investments. And I know that this false dichotomy may be preying on you too, I can see it in your faces. You feel the tension. 

Here's why, 61% of American workers struggle with work-related stress no doubt fueled with this tension that they feel between the demands of their professional career and the demands of their personal life. In addition to that, your risk of a heart attack is 11% to 20% higher on Mondays. This is that time when you transition from work or from home to work and feel that tension full force. These stats come alive when I coach professionals and business leaders like you. High achievers are in high demand, therefore their workload keeps growing. And the tension is that they tend to dip into personal priorities and set those aside for the sake of the work that they have to do. So by a show of hands, I've got a question for you. How many of you have skipped a workout, shorted sleep, or carved into family time in the last month for the sake of work? Be honest. Okay, everybody. 

How about in the last week? Most of you. When we buy into the hustle fallacy, the first place we tend to cut is, you guessed it, self-care, right? Happens to all of us. I mean, it's one of those things that seems unnecessary, like a luxury. But it's not. It's imperative. Self-care has demonstrable, career enhancing, business building benefits. And I wanna share three with you today. But before I do, I think it's important that we define what it is that we're talking about. When I talk about self-care, here's what I mean. Self-care describes the activities that make for a meaningful life outside of work while contributing to greater performance at work. Let me say it again. Self-care describes the activities that make for a meaningful life outside of work while contributing to greater performance at work. It plays out in daily habits like sleeping enough, eating well, exercising regularly, connecting with the people that we love, engaging in meaningful hobbies, and making time for personal reflection.

The hustle fallacy says that the bigger your vision, the more you've got to sacrifice self-care, right? What if the opposite were true? What if the bigger your vision, the more you have to prioritize self-care. Here's why. Benefit number one, self-care gives you energy. And you need all the energy you can get, right? I know, I do. Why? Because I have big ambitions both personally and professionally. But there's a problem. High achievers like you often tell me, "I don't have time for self-care," right? I understand it. I get it. Life is busy. But usually, when we say that we don't have time for something important, it's because we've bought into the myth of time management. Now, I'm not saying that we shouldn't be intentional with how we manage our time, but the trouble comes when we accept the belief that skillfully massaging our schedule can somehow produce more time, and we refuse to grapple with the fact that we have more tasks than time. And that's always gonna be true.

And if we're not careful, the next thing we know, it's 7 p.m. and we're eating takeout at our desk, again. Here's the hard truth. Time is fixed. It can't flex. You get 168 hours no matter how important you may think you are. But here's another truth. Energy can flex. You can't give yourself more time, that's true. But you can bring a sharper, more energized you to the bear of the time you've got available. And this is an insight I learned from Jim Loehr. Productivity is less about managing time and more about managing your energy. And most people get this entirely backward. As a result, they work more and more, less and less efficiently. 

But research shows that after a certain amount of time, we're just chasing our tail. Jack Neverson crunched the numbers from several studies on long work hours. And here is what he found. There is a ceiling for productive work. He calls it the law of 50. And it stands in stark contrast to the hustle fallacy. Push past 50 hours a week, and there's no productivity gain, zero. In fact, it could go backwards. One study found that 50 hours on the job only yielded 37 hours of useful work. Push that up to 55 hours and it drops to 30. In other words, and you've seen the pattern, there's an inverse relationship between how much you work and how productive you are. You're not a robot. You're a person who needs rest to be at your best. As we think about self-care, you have to acknowledge that yourself is at the center. 

Now, hear me, I'm not arguing that you should be self-centered, not at all. But I'm asking you to acknowledge the fact that yourself is central, your health, your relationships, your children, your hobbies, your work. At the center of all these, is you. You are all you have to offer these various facets of your life. If you're not nurturing yourself, if yourself is not thriving, then the influence you bring to these other dimensions is gonna be less than what it could be. Think of the old adage of sharpening the saw. Abraham Lincoln supposedly said, "Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I'll spend the first four sharpening the axe." I don't know if he said that or not but I do know the principle is true. And it's this, "Time not chopping is worth as much, if not more, than time swinging the axe." In other words, it's how you ensure that the tool is up to the task. That's benefit number one. 

Self-care gives you more energy. Benefit number two, self-care gives you an edge. Look, we live in an incredibly competitive environment where even the slightest edge can spell the difference between success and failure. But there's a problem. Another objection that I often hear and you've probably made it yourself, self-care seems indulgent. Let's bust that myth right now. Sharpening the blade is not indulgent, it's essential. The same is true for you. Self-care leads to higher performance and the science proves it. First of all, self-care fuels creativity. Your mind is like a machine that's powered by rest and recreation. Subtract those elements and the machine cannot function at its top performance. Consider sleep, according to one study, trying to get by on six hours or less of sleep, reduces our cognitive functioning to that of someone who is legally drunk. True. According to neuroscientists, "Sleep deprived people come up with fewer original ideas and also tend to stick with old strategies." 

An extra hour of sleep, might be your best strategy for creating more innovation. Or consider exercise, studies show that there is a direct correlation between bodily exercise and brain functioning, even lower impact exercise releases a protein called BDNF, which helps promote the growth of new brain cells and nourishes the ones you've got. As one study said, "When we exercise our legs, we're exercising our brain." Or consider fun, believe it or not, fun is a form of fuel. Writer, Virginia Postrel says, "Play nurtures a subtle mind." A willingness to think in new categories and an ability to make unexpected associations. If you or your team need a breakthrough, you might just need a break. Sleep, exercise, fun, all are indispensable if we're gonna be more creative in our work. But the benefits extend beyond creativity. Self-care also fuels confidence, and here's why. Exercise lowers our stress and anxiety levels while at the same time, raising our sense of self-efficacy. 

In other words, it increases the belief that we can accomplish difficult tasks which in turn, fuels greater performance at work. And there's one more way that self-care give you an edge. It's even been linked to higher earnings. Researchers in Finland followed 5000 male twins over the course of 30 years. They tracked which ones were sedentary and which ones were active. And they came to conclusion that regular exercise, get this, results in bigger long-term earnings, as much as 14% and 17% higher. That would be a nice raise this year, wouldn't it? It turns out that regular exercise forms the kind of character that wins in the marketplace. According to these researchers, exercise "makes people more persistent in the face of work related difficulties and increases their desire to engage in competitive situations." 

Would more creativity, increased confidence, greater competitiveness, give you an edge? Yeah, I think so. It would me. Now, just in case you're still on the fence, let me make on final argument. As we've seen, self-care improves performance but conversely, self-neglect causes crises that cripple careers. I remember when an executive I worked with, went through a painful divorce. It left a leadership vacuum in our company for about a year. I mean, he was there but barely so. Years of self-neglect and workaholic-neglect broke down his family and eventually, broke down the career that he had fought so hard to build. And I've seen the same thing happen to leaders who have experienced health crises after years of bodily neglect finally caught up with them. I don't wanna see any of that happen to you. 

Self-care gives you an edge by warding off the crises that can undermine your career or impede the growth of your business. So benefit number one, self-care gives you energy. Benefit number two, self-care gives you an edge. And benefit number three, self-care gives you endurance. We live in a world that worships heroic work. And you might be tempted to think that if you took off a little early for the sake of self-care that people at the office might begin to talk or they might begin to question your commitment to the mission. That's why I think defining the win is necessary to achieving it. If there is no target, there can be no bulls eye. So it's important that we stop to clarify the kind of success that we're after. And there are two questions that I've found helpful. First, do you want one-dimensional or multi-dimensional success? 

Are you willing to be, sort of, the industry titan at the expense, for example, of being a loving father or mother? Do you wanna be the youngest executive in the board room even if it costs you your health? If that's what you want, fine. But if you're hoping to achieve both, it's gonna take a different approach. The second question I found to be helpful is this one, do you want momentary or sustained success? Now, I've had friends who have buckled down in tough situations for a limited amount of time in order to achieve a specific financial target. If you want that, fine. But make no mistake about it, the hustle fallacy comes with a high, very high price tag. If you're after enduring success, success at work and at home, self-neglect can't be part of the equation. Long-term success requires sustainable habits. Now, let's be honest. The hustle fallacy can be very effective in short spurts. But when you stack sprint upon sprint upon sprint like I know some of you are doing, it's a recipe for burn out. 

Some of you are feeling that, probably this morning. Alexander Michelle conducted a study of investment bankers who regularly worked between 100 and 120 hours a week. Now, obviously, there's only 168 hours a week. So they were shorting self-care. Not surprisingly, Michelle found that these bankers were extremely productive for the first couple of years. Also not surprising, it didn't last. Starting in year four, she said, "Bankers started to experience sometimes debilitating physical and psychological breakdowns. They suffered from chronic exhaustion, insomnia, back and body pain, autoimmune diseases, heart arrhythmia's, addictions, and compulsions, causing them to exhibit diminished judgement and ethical sensitivity." In other words, the harder they worked, the more they tried to compensate for their lack of productivity with more work. It was a vicious cycle and it just didn't work. 

So let's go on and review. Actually, I wanna talk about one more exception. Why would they sign up for 100 hours a week? Probably because they'd fallen into the same myth that you and I often fall into. We think we're the exception, right? I mean, maybe you think, okay, I'm working 50 or more hours a week but I'm actually quite productive. Or you think, I haven't exercised since college and I'm healthy as a horse. Look, there's nothing inherently wrong with stamina or a work ethic but the long-term effects of thinking we're exempt from self-care are severe. Take Marissa Mayer, the former CEO of Yahoo!, who bragged publicly that she got by on four hours of sleep at night, but then fell asleep and was publicly ridiculed because she missed a high-profile marketing meeting. In fact, she arrived three hours late. 

Or Arianna Huffington, who after a series of 80 hour weeks, fainted from exhaustion and broke her cheek bone on the desk on her way to the floor. Some of us are working ourselves into lackluster marriages, alienation from our kids, bodies that are prone to disease and illness. In some extreme cases, we might even be working ourselves into an early grave. Self-care offers a brighter alternative. Those who slow down enough to enjoy their work, stay at it longer, and perform better. They also have well-tended bodies, family lives, and friendships that they can take into their golden years. This kind of endurance, only comes to those who practice self-care. So let's review. 

When you prioritize self-care, you'll experience three career enhancing, business building benefits. One, increased energy. Two, a competitive edge. And three, long-term endurance. And you can unlock these benefits with three simple steps. First, make a commitment to self-care. If not now, when? When you have that heart attack? When your spouse serves you with divorce papers? When your kids go astray? When? Now, is the time. Second, set hard boundaries around your workday and weekends. In other words, protect your margin. You're gonna need it, if you're gonna perform at the top of your game. Third, set a goal of sleeping eight hours a night. Now, I know that sounds like a lot, but when it comes to self-care nothing is more important than your rest. 

And if you want to take this further, and I hope that you will, I've also put together a free resource for you, called The Self-care Starter Kit. It includes two components. First, an online assessment that will help give you a score as to exactly where you are in terms of self-care. It's brand new. We just launched it for this conference. Number two, a free e-book, called, The Busy Leaders Self-care Handbook. Seven Simple Strategies to Boost your Energy, Up your Focus, and Achieve Extraordinary Results." And you can get that at michaelhyatt.com/selfcare. Again, It's free. As I close, allow me to add one more benefit that's at stake, your example. After all my topic is Self-care as a Leadership Discipline. As it turns out, you're not the only one who suffers when you fall prey to the hustle fallacy. 

Not surprisingly, at Tesla, the culture began to mirror the haggardness of its driven CEO. One former employee said of Musk, "People who work for him were like ammunition, used for a specific purpose until exhausted and then discarded." Now, it's clear that Elon Musk is remarkable. Maybe his grueling methods will eventually get him the results he wants, but the jury is still out. But even if he's the rare exception that can get by with that level of self-neglect, can your team? Can his team? So you've got a choice, here. Some people think the chance of explosive success is worth the wear and tear on themselves for the sake of success. But again, it comes at a steep price. Others believe in this false dichotomy, and so they opt to apply the ambition break, not me. 

I'm after the double-win. And let me get really personal, here. I have five daughters and they have brilliant minds and big hearts. Maybe I'm a little biased. One of them is the COO of our company. Three of them are thriving business builders. Another has joined forces with her husband to launch their own startup. And I don't wanna tell them that they have to choose between being healthy or building a business, between being happy wives and mothers or growing their business. I don't want them to have to choose between rest and recharging or going all in on their career. I want them to have both. And I want it for the people I coach. But it's not enough for me to say it with my words, I have to lead by my example. 

Why? Because leaders go first. They walk ahead so that others can follow behind. If you want your family and your teammates to prioritize self-care, you have to show them the way. If you want them to have thriving home lives and fulfilling careers, you have to show them how. You can be a living example that self-care drives success. And it's an example that you can set beginning today. I hope, no, I pray, that you won't settle for anything less than the double-win. You can win at work and succeed at life. Thank you.
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Michael Hyatt

Michael Hyatt is the founder and CEO of Michael Hyatt & Company, a leadership development firm specializing in transformative live events, workshops, and digital and physical planning tools. 

Formerly chairman and CEO of Tho...

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