Want To Be A Better Leader? Make These 3 Pledges!

By Jon Schmieder

Nineteenth century women’s rights activist Margaret Fuller once said, “Men for the sake of getting a living forget to live.”

As sports event industry professionals we have all worked long hours, slept in our offices, and at times lost track of taking care of ourselves. We need to find ways to ensure we stay fresh and keep our minds and bodies in tune at all times, even when we are “busy.”

My wife Sharon will tell you that I am one of the world’s worst at taking time to unplug and relax. She, on the other hand, is a world-class relaxer. Don’t get me wrong; Sharon is a high achiever with a successful background in restaurant marketing. But when it is time to relax, she can shut work mode off. She can sit poolside (or preferably oceanside) for hours on end, or read a book start to finish. It’s a gift, something that all of us should learn how to do well to be the best leaders we can be.

I recently read an article that talked about this very notion. Anita Bruzzese of Gannett wrote about how to be our best at business we need to think more like athletes preparing to peak for an event. We need to take care of our bodies and our minds, through rest and relaxation, in order to reach our potential at work. This article got me thinking about how I could become more like my wife in the area of integrating relaxation into my routine.

Since sports people are goal setters at heart, here are three rest and relaxation pledges I recommend for all of us in the coming year:

Pledge to read a book for at least a half hour a day. Reading is not only relaxing, but it also engages your mind to keep it sharp. I read the newspaper in Phoenix every day (the print version, not the screen version). This not only helps me keep abreast of current events, but it also often gives me ideas that I can implement with my clients. I also always have a book in my travel bag, for airports, planes, hotel lobbies, etc. Keep one handy, when you need it, read it.

Pledge to do something athletic at least four times a week. Hit the gym, go to the driving range, or take a hike. Make this a priority to keep your body fresh. Our body is our vehicle on this earth; we need to keep it fine-tuned for optimal performance in our work.

Pledge to take time away from work and cell phones at least once a month. In our society today, this one is a near impossibility, but we can achieve this goal in small doses. Oftentimes when we go out to dinner, I leave my phone at home. It’s a small window of time. The world will be there when we get back. It’s also a great idea to change your phone to silent mode and turn off the vibrate mode. This way you don’t feel that every time it rings or vibrates you HAVE to check in and see what is going on. While I’m always worried that I may be inaccessible, these are very liberating actions to take. Try them.

Three pledges isn’t a lot, but it’s a start. If you always have good intentions on goals like these, but life seems to always get in the way, schedule your pledges. Block time in your outlook calendar for your pledges. Treat these blocks of time like a meeting you can’t miss. Have your friends, family and spouse remind you of your pledges to keep you on track. Ask the nosy neighbor to remind you (at least that way they will be actually helping in some way). Unplug now for great leadership later. The world isn’t going anywhere.

Here’s to our collective mental health!


Jon Schmieder, founder of the Huddle Up Group LLC, has more than 16 years of experience in leading nonprofits and sports tourism organizations through strategic growth and increased community collaboration. Jon@HuddleUpGroup.com or (602) 369-6955.