Executives can perform successfully even if they smoke, drink, and weigh too much. Much of their work is sedentary, and some excel without having any exercise routine. Obviously many do live and work this way, but they cannot perform to their full potential or without a cost over time to themselves, their families, and the corporations for which they work.

Most approaches to high performance in executives and leaders deal with cognitive or emotional competencies. Some theorists have addressed the spiritual dimension as well, how deeper values and a sense of purpose influence performance. Surprisingly, almost no one has paid any attention to the role played by physical capacities. An integrated theory of performance management addresses the body, mind, emotions, and spirit, considering the person as a whole.

The body is our fundamental source of energy, and anyone concerned about high levels of performance under intense pressures must be concerned with physical fitness. Even if you are at a desk most of the day, you need physical energy. It begins with attention to breathing, a healthy diet, good sleeping habits, plenty of water, daily physical exercise, and recovery breaks every 90 to 120 minutes.

Although this may sound like hackneyed common sense, the evidence is clear: those executives who build into their daily and weekly routines exercise, healthy eating, good sleeping, and energy recovery breaks have more energy and are able to sustain performance under intense pressures.


Getting in shape to fully engage in life and work means deep involvement with purpose, values, and self-examination and the establishment of effective energy replenishing habits. First you must define your true values and what is most important to you, being positive and unselfish. Then you must be honest about where you are now and be willing to admit that your excuses are no longer good enough. Third, plan to take action on three positive rituals that will make a difference in your energy levels. Be precise about when you will engage in these positive rituals—what time, for how long, and on which days.

Some busy executives who have built breaks into their already overburdened schedules have been astonished at how they have expanded their capacities in all four domains of energy. These breaks can include deep breathing for a few seconds, doing a quick meditation, rereading a vision or mission statement, calling a loved one, running up and down stairs, taking a quick tour around colleagues’ cubicles for friendly chats, doing a few sit-ups or stretches, eating a healthy snack, or walking around the block. It doesn’t matter what one decides to do, but it is crucial to be specific about the time and activity. The idea is to reconnect with purpose and recuperate energy reserves.

Working with an executive coach is a good way to reevaluate your performance in the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual domains. Get real, get honest, get positive—stretch your capacities and then recuperate your energy. It is your most precious resource.

What helps you to sustaing you energy?

Recommended reading:

Boyatzis, R. E., & McKee, A. (2005). Resonant Leadership. Boston: Harvard Business School P.

Bruch, H. & Ghoshal, S. (2004). A Bias for Action: How Effective Managers Harness their Willpower, Achieve Results, and Stop Wasting Time. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.

Groppel, J. L. (2000). The Corporate Athlete: How to Achieve Maximal Performance in Business and Life. N.Y.: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Loehr, J. & Schwartz, T. (2003). The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal. N.Y.: The Free Press/Simon & Schuster, Inc.