The Mental Diet of a Leader - by Dave Jochum In Business Solutions

Dave Jochum

Published: March 2, 2015, 3:25 p.m.
Updated: March 2, 2015, 3:25 p.m.


Dieting is big business. Some estimates say that dieting and weight loss make up a 20 billion dollar a year industry in the U.S. And this is really no surprise when you think about it. How many times just this week have you been surfing TV channels and seen at least one ad or infomercial on dieting? How many of your friends are into Plexus or Visalus or any of the many other health-related multi-level marketing businesses? How conscious now are you about what you are eating? Maybe you’ve done the Paleo diet or the alternate fasting diet or the Atkins diet or the gluten-free or Wheat Belly diets.

My point is that we have become obsessed about our concern over what we put into our mouths. The question I have for you today as a leader is this: Are you as equally concerned about what you are putting into your mind?

Tim Sanders, in his book, Today We Are Rich, says, "You should be as careful about what you put into your mind as you are about what you put into your mouth.”

I would even suggest to you that what we eat is in large part determined by what we’ve allowed into our minds. What I mean is that when we are down on ourselves, we often turn to what we call "comfort foods.” Or we grab a bag or box of something and mindlessly eat. Or we feel particularly proud of something we’ve accomplished or we’ve worked really hard at something and we reward ourselves with a fine dessert. What we’ve done is bought into the voices in our heads that say, "Awe, go ahead. You know you’re going to blow your diet anyway. Enjoy yourself now. You deserve it.”

Now there’s nothing wrong with a food-related reward and it’s certainly not a crime to eat our favorite comfort food. But why are we doing it and how often? Has it become detrimental to our overall health?

Again, my point is simply that as leaders, what we allow into our minds can be very powerful. So, we should be very careful of letting into our minds things like, negative thoughts (especially those of others), bad news, media that tears down rather than builds up, social media posts that are negative and hurtful, and so on.

These things will affect your attitude and your attitude will have an impact on your team. There is no way around this. You may think you can fake it, but you can’t fake it forever. Sooner or later the negative thoughts will drag you down and it will show. You’ll develop a fatalistic point of view. "Oh, none of it really matters anyway.” "No matter how hard I try no one notices.” "My team doesn’t care about anything I say.” And blah, blah, blah.”

You’ve noticed this in yourself, right? I mean, you’ve spent time scrolling through Facebook and read negative or nasty comments that someone has posted somewhere. You know that feeling you get as you read those comments. It may be anger, disgust, frustration, or whatever, but its thoughts that bring you down, right? How about the news? You know that there’s a reason why most of the news we get from the media is bad, don’t you? It sells! It keeps you engaged and watching or reading. But too much of it and you go to bed all disgusted with the direction of world events. Not good my friend.

How does a leader go from a bad to a good mental diet?

Here are some suggestions for you:

  1. Start your day off with a good dose of positive. DO NOT read your email while you’re lying in bed, trying to wake up! Read the Bible or another book that brings encouragement to your life. Think on positive things. What was something good that happened yesterday? You get the idea.
  2. Take a week off from the news. Seriously. Don’t watch it and don’t read it. I’ve done this before and it really helped.
  3. Take a week off of social media. If you stay on social media, make it your mission to post positive and helpful things. You may even want to "unfriend” someone who always posts nothing but negative thoughts.
  4. Make it a point to say or do something nice for at least 3 people each day.
  5. Put encouraging quotes around your home and office to remind you of the good things in life.
  6. Listen to encouraging and uplifting music.

I’m confident that you can come up with other suggestions that are even better than these. Take some time and think through your day. Identify where the struggles are that bring you down and then make a plan for countering the negative. Put good things into your mind and good things will come out in your life!