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For mental fitness, invest in yourself first

Maybe you already invest in yourself by exercising several times a week, eating the right foods, maintaining a healthy weight, and seeing the doctor at least once a year. Everyone knows that physical fitness increases our ability to function in life, including performing as top-notch leaders.

But equally important in business is keeping our minds functioning for maximum achievement. Look around: I’ll bet the high performers you know are people who are continually studying and learning. The better your command of how your business works, the more productive you will be. Just as being physically fit can yield great confidence, so does maintaining mental fitness.

Keep learning to stay on top. Ask yourself what skills you could improve on and then map out a plan to really step up those skills. Consider all your options — taking key classes, reading targeted books and trade magazines, networking, practicing public speaking and attending industry events.

Ask a superior for advice. Let your boss know that you want to improve your skills in effort to produce even better results. Ask for an honest evaluation and ideas about skill development. Ask for a meeting and follow up on your request. I remember when my boss made two suggestions about classes that I did not think made sense at the time, but in the long run both were very important in my growth. In most cases you will wind up with more good ideas than you can handle.

Find a mentor. You might get even more value from finding a mentor who can guide, coach and challenge you. I was fortunate to have two significant mentors in my life: my father, who regularly associated with business leaders and shared so many stories that helped me develop a good grasp of business leadership, and my Tractor Supply Company predecessor, Tom Hennesy, who challenged my skills and helped me continually mature into a solid leader.

Involve your family. Your family should also be part of your self-investment plan. After all, they know you best. Case in point: Some of the soundest advice of my life — the kind I don’t always want to hear — comes from my wife. So, communicate with those closest to you, take all tips in stride, and say thank you, because it may be some of the best counsel you ever get.

Minimize stressors. You can’t avoid all job-related stress but you can minimize it with practices like continuous education and delegation. The more you educate yourself about operations in your area, other parts of your organization and the people in your work world, the more you’ll experience a sense of global control over your day-to-day tasks. You can further minimize your stress by training and coaching your team so you can confidently delegate key tasks without having to over worry about follow-through.

Pass it on. There’s no better feeling than passing on what you’ve learned — and that can directly impact your emotional health. I was fortunate enough to return favors I’ve received over the years by mentoring a young man in Nashville. For years we had breakfast conversations about both personal and business development. Today his business is more than 10 times the size it was when we first worked together, and I feel honored to have helped in some way.

So, remember, invest in your whole self. Look in the mirror and assess physical and mental fitness. Build a plan. Engage those around you. Commit to continuous growth in every aspect of your life. Remember, no one’s going to take a risk on you if you don’t invest in yourself first.

published Nashville Business Journal

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