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Good Leaders: What does self care mean for you?

My son, Ben, and I rose long before dawn to climb Lion’s Head Peak, so we could get a sunrise view of Cape Town, South Africa on my sabbatical. The “hike” was a trigger for me to improve my fitness.

The Seven Fs Wheel is a central tool in how we teach leaders the fine art of intellectually honest self-reflection. Assessing our own satisfaction on our faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future can produce powerful insights to stimulate renewal – if we pay attention. I think of the Seven Fs Wheel as an invitation to “Carpe diem” (Seize the day).

Three weeks of international travel forced intellectually honest self-reflection… a “4” on fitness needs to change.

If you follow this blog you know that I recently returned from a 5-week sabbatical, which included a 3-week trip to South Africa with my family. It was the trip of a lifetime, during which I celebrated my 55th birthday while on Safari at the spectacular Kitchaka Game Reserve. Prior to the sabbatical I set three specific goals: 1) be 100%  present with my family, 2) take care of myself, 3) listen to myself think.  It was the combination of #2 and #3 which resulted in my Seven Fs “ah-ha!” moment. I’ll explain:

Mountain Top Insight

At sunrise on our 4th day in the enchanting city of Cape Town, my son Ben and I rose before 5AM to climb Lion’s Head Peak – we wanted to watch the sunrise over one of the world’s greatest cities. The journey included a 20-minute cab ride to the base of the climbing trail, and another 45 minutes of hard hiking/climbing – in the dark. The final 200 vertical feet was hand-over-head, ladder-style climbing on rocks – in the dark. It tested my physical strength, my basic flexibility, and my courage.

Ben and I enjoyed the Lion’s Head descent, with the beaches of Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

The rewards at the top were too many to count. It wasn’t Kilimanjaro…but I shared the sunrise with my son, half way around the world. We blended every one of the Seven Fs together: faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future. The trip back down was equally difficult, and as I felt the soreness creep into my back, and knees, and shoulders I found this insight: If I want to climb Lion’s Head with one of my grandchildren (someday), it’s time to seriously improve my fitness.

A pre-dawn selfie outside of Farrell’s on the first day of Week #4.

Carpe diem – kickboxing!

In a separate storyline, my daughter Katie is getting married to Maxwell Bowell in November of this year. Prior to leaving for South Africa, she asked me if I would be her accountability/exercise partner in a 10-week kickboxing program at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping Class. So the next day I committed to Katie, and kickboxing. To cement the commitment, when I returned home I found a Buy One Get One Free coupon at the top of the stack of mail. (A not-so-subtle-sign?)

As I write this, we are mid-way through our 4th week. Holy cow it’s intense! We go to the gym 6 days a week.

About 25 of our classmates stumble into the gym before dawn at 6AM, for 45 minutes of high intensity interval training, including the basics of kickboxing, combined with upper and lower body resistance training. I am finding soreness, and satisfaction in muscles I didn’t even know I had. I’m watching people in their mid-20s struggle…I can’t imagine what they are thinking as they watch this mid-50s guy with a beer gut struggle! Carpe diem?

This bag is kicking the snot out of me. But I like it.

I realize self-care is much more than the “fitness” part of The Seven Fs…however, for me it’s my highest priority. The kickboxing is blending faith (in myself), family (with Katie), friends (new ones), fun (yes, I like it!), future (longevity?) with fitness. And the 50% off coupon also includes finances.

Good leaders listen to themselves think as they self-assess on faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future. And they seize the day to get better and grow…with the future in mind.

Please share with me: What does self care mean to you?

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