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The Most Important Skill in Life

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Taking the Lead

Finding the Time For Mental and Physical Health

I was watching a video on influence and leadership. The message really got me thinking.

It said…

“What makes you a leader, is that you have the ability not to just accept life the way it is, you have the ability to make life how you want it to be. You influence yourself first and then influence other people.”

And it went on to say…

“If you have the ability to change thoughts, feelings and behavior of other human beings, you can change your business, you can change your income, you can change your kids, you can change your own life.”

I was adequately inspired… but the clip left me thinking. What’s the first step?

While I was pondering, an email from one of our Productivity Blueprint members rolled in. As if he knew what I was contemplating, what he wrote made yet another connection for me.

This member was going through a huge change in his life. He was becoming a father. Naturally, this added a massive commitment to an already busy life. So why was he using his limited time to email the Asian Efficiency team?

He was writing to tell us about his unique way of handling his tremendous life change. You see, on top of being a successful marketer for a small software company, Fredrik was an athlete.

He wanted to maintain his physical health and get a bit more control over his mental health in preparation for his new baby. And he was right to do so, the importance of mental and physical health is well documented.

So Fredrik took the time to think about how he could maintain his physical and mental well-being now that he won’t have as much time to go to they gym or play on team sports he has always been involved in.

Here was his action plan.


Image from

Step 1: Decide your MVP – Most Valuable Practices.

  • He decided that 30 minutes of exercise and 10 minutes of meditation would be enough to maintain his mental and physical strength.

Step 2: Make your MVP a priority.

  • In order to make something a priority you need to be crystal clear on how the action benefits you personally. And he gave us the reasons why the MVP mattered to him. According to Fredrick, the meditation and exercise practice will:
    • give me more energy during the day AND help me sleep better at night
    • give me more focus to think more clearly through all of the new decisions I will have to be making as a new dad
    • help me gain greater clarity and efficiency at work (so I won’t have to stay in late at the office)

Step 3: Find the right tools and space for your MVP.

  • Fredrick cleared some space in his home, bought some weights and favorited a couple of Youtube channels with everything from palates for men to core classes. He also found a free app called “Headspace”, where he could get 10 minutes of guided meditation each day.

Step 4: Start taking action on your MVP.

  • Once you know what you need, why you need it and how to do it, the only thing left is to start doing! However, to ensure the practice stuck… even on those days when daddy duties became overwhelming, he scheduled his 40 minute self-renewal practice for the same time everyday in the early morning. He gave a specific time and space for the practice to live in because he knew that motivation fades, but habits last.

So why do I think Fredrick’s fantastic new habit was the first step to being more influential and designing the life you want?

Well, the biggest… really the only obstacle between you an your goals is action. Fredrick’s two habits – that take less than an hour a day – will give him the energy and focus he needs to take the right actions day-after-day.

Whether it be influencing his co-workers to do their best work, influencing his audience to buy his company’s software, influencing his son to make smart choices as he grows up, or influencing himself to be better than he was yesterday, Fredrick will stand on his foundation of strong mental and physical health to create the world he wants to live in.

How do you become a leader? You take care of yourself first.

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Posted by Fredrik  | September 8, 2014 at 4:56AM | Reply

Hey Zack,

Fred here, the guy referred in the blog post :) . Thanks for sharing the story – 5 months into fathehood, I must say this new routine has worked a treat. Mainly because it is time limited and even if I can’t make it some morning because, well, I have a 5 month old, I can always find the time at some point in the day.

Some practical additional tips:
* Buy a yoga mat, so you can do pilates/yoga etc anywhere

* To avoid the internet connection reliance, download a few favourite Youtube personal training videos to your smartphone or Ipad (there are apps for this, I use one called Free video). Then you have your boot camp instructor and mat available anywhere. For example, I don’t have a gym near work, but I can go to a local park or use a little room to get my 30 min workout in. The meditation you can obviously do anywhere.

* If you’re doing weights: Set up a space for your little home gym (you don’t need much) and make sure you can go from one exercise to the next without needing to shuffle weights around. I have 1 barbell and 2 dumbbells and have created a 25 minute routine. If our son goes into nap mode, I can do a quick session.


Posted by Zachary Sexton  | August 29, 2014 at 10:57PM | Reply

I dig that saying. Thanks for taking the time to share. And I was referring to a Tony Robins clip (sorry, I too cannot find the source).

Posted by Daniel  | August 27, 2014 at 9:53AM | Reply

The comment in the presentation (BTW, which one?) reminds me of that old saying:

“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change my nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could indeed have changed the world.”
(sorry, forgot the source)

Okay, that’s taking it a bit farther … as for your article, I like that it sets a limit to the change. If you plan on changing yourself without some idea of how much time to invest and what to achieve and how to flexibly react to what happens on the way, you might not get to change anything else. After all, too much self-reflection paralyzes …

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