Most successful leaders I read about live lives I would never trade mine for.  The lives of these leaders (ex. Saban, Meyer, Limbaugh, entertainers, politicians, etc…) just isn’t worth it to me for the following reasons:

  • 80-100 hour work weeks.
  • Endless nights at the office or on the road.
  • Wives that learn to live without you or worse, leave you.
  • Because of limited involvement, their children grow up not knowing them.
  • Tremendous stress.
  • And here is what they never tell you – they will one day wake up all alone.

I don’t want that life and chances are you do not as well.  I want a productive life outside of work.  I would gain the world but lose my soul.

Many will tell you the “balanced life” is a myth.  I disagree.  So can you be the best leader in your industry and also have a healthy lifestyle?

In the May 23rd issue of Sports Illustrated, Michael Rosenberg wrote a compelling article on Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby, the 25-year-old who is the best player in hockey.  Crosby learned much while spending an extended time on the injured list.  This time away from the game made him a better player.  Here’s why:

  • Time Away From Work Increases Your Passion For It – Crosby’s brilliance is a result of his “relentlessness”.  Being away from the game increased his passion.  Crosby said, “When you’re sitting around for a year and a half you realize you’ve got to enjoy the time you have.”
  • Time Away Frees Up Your Mind – There is value in turning your mind off.  Teammate Pascal Dupuis says, “In the last couple of years, away from the rink, he has been trying to turn his brain off of hockey.”  Crosby added, “I learned to get my mind away from hockey a little more when I’m away from the rink.”
  • Time Away Allows You To See Things Differently – Crosby’s time away allowed him to see “openings” in the game he had previously not seen.

So the question begs, other than superior natural ability, how do you become the best at what you do while taking appropriate time off from work?  Here is Cosby’s approach to the game:

  • Learn From Other Disciplines – Crosby is fascinated with the military and applies parallel learnings between playing hockey and snipers.  One of his good friends is J.B. Spisso who served in the U.S. Army Special Forces.  As an example, learning leadership lessons from hockey is making me a better leader at church.
  • Be A Perfectionist – Value quality over quantity.  One of the practices snipers master is precise repetition.  This speaks to preparation, discipline, and perfectionism.  Spisso says, “It’s more than quick repetition.  It’s precise repetition – very, very precise ability.”
  • Learn All Aspects Of Your Discipline – Spisso adds, “[Sidney] understands that to be great at his game, he has to be involved in all facets of it.”
  • Lead By Example – Teammate Matt Niskanen says, “Crosby is a great leader: He shows what perfectionism looks like.  If you want rah-rah speeches, rent a movie.”

I learned much about leadership from the game of hockey.  What did you learn from this post?


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