Business leaders can ill afford to neglect their health this year - Dr Jedd Myers

Jan 27, 2018

The IMF recently revised South Africa’s economic growth forecast downward for 2018, following a stressful 2017, marked by uncertainty and serious public scrutiny, with business confidence hitting a 30-year low.

Notwithstanding the prevailing economic conditions, business must go on, and the responsibility to demonstrate shareholder value ultimately falls squarely on the shoulders of executives. Entrepreneurs and business executives alike work long hours, with excessive commitments, putting their overall health is at high risk and, if left unchecked, threatening business continuity and stakeholder interests.

The demands of running a business requires alertness and top mental form. Taking the time for an annual medical assessment to understand your health status, empowering you to make lifestyle changes for exceptional performance could be the difference between “good” to “great” from a company’s perspective. In my interaction with highly successful business leaders as part of EO, I find that because it is the nature of business leaders to push themselves beyond the limit, their health is usually an afterthought. However, when their systems finally crash, it can take weeks for them to recover, losing valuable time that could be spent building their businesses. This has serious commercial impact; not only do investors lose confidence, staff morale takes a hit, productivity dives and the company suffers.

It is not that business leaders are unaware of the importance of looking after their health, rather they fall into two categories. Firstly, it is based on reluctance despite knowing what the issues are, and secondly, it is ignorance. However, when a major health set back occurs, they find that the time they deemed too valuable to invest in a medical assessment and optimising their health is now spent (in the best case) begrudgingly at the hospital or at home due to ill health.

The following steps can help busy executives keep check on their health:

Conduct a comprehensive health assessment – invest in an annual comprehensive medical assessment where specialists across multiple medical disciplines conduct a full assessment of your overall wellbeing. These executive tailored programmes will need you to invest a few hours of your day, once a year. These holistic multidisciplinary checks usually include an assessment by a biokineticist, a medical doctor, a nurse, dietitian, work-management consultant, and personal trainer, ending off with a therapeutic massage

Schedule regular check-ups – in between the annual health checks, it is just as important to have regular check-ups, to make sure that you are keeping on track to achieve your health goal. For example, the Exec|Care “Pathway to Health” programme focuses on keeping the executive on track to achieve his health goal through nutrition and physical exercise.

Take up a simple workout regime – executives commonly complain that they simply don’t have the time to exercise. If you approach physical exercise scientifically, you will be able to get exponential results with a lesser amount of time. High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), and conditioning exercises with effective recover can yield far better results than traditional methods of exercise and training; allowing you to enjoy the benefits of exercise, with a much shorter time investment.

Watch your eating habits – as busy executives, you don’t always get to pack your own lunch and chances are, you eat whatever is available while you are on the go. Carve out for yourself, or with the help of a dietician and your PA, what foods are a no-go so you are able to make good food choices, wherever you are.

Build a strong network of like-minded people – the pressures of running a business can be mentally taxing, and excessive stress can lead to a breakdown in overall health. It is important to build a network of like-minded business leaders who are able to relate to your challenges. A strong support network, such as Entrepreneurs’ Organisation, gives you a platform to relate with likeminded individuals undergoing the same stresses as you.

While this is not an exhaustive list, it is the start of a journey to good health for even the busiest of executives. It takes a conscious decision for business leaders to keep their health in check, and when they get this right, for business benefits too.


Article: Entrepreneur health - Entrepreneurs’ Organisation (EO) member and Director of Exec|Care, Dr Jedd Myers

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