by David Rosenbaum

Take Care of Your Health So You Can Take Care of Your Business

Jun 01, 20063 mins
Personal Software

Lately, I’ve been feeling lousy. Maybe it’s the change of season; maybe it’s allergies; maybe it’s germs. Whatever it is, for the past two weeks my head’s been aching, my nose has been running, my eyes have been burning, and I’ve been looking even more pathetic than I normally do.

The doc put me on antibiotics and told me to take antihistamines, drink lots of water and take it easy.

But I haven’t been taking it easy. Most days, I’ve been dragging my sorry butt into work. There’s a lot going on right now at CIO. We’re deploying a new content management system. We’re building a new Web architecture and redefining our online coverage to make our award-winning website* even better. We’re reengineering our internal work processes to make our site and our magazine more timely. And I figured that without my physical presence, without my sterling, hands-on leadership, the whole kit and caboodle would go to hell in a handbasket. So I showed up to work and led the troops with my noggin noddin’ and my rheumy eyes half-closed. I deferred decisions and radiated martyred misery. I led with a whisper, a whine, a sneeze and a sniffle.

Very inspirational. I should have known better.

Recently, in conjunction with last month’s CIO Leadership Conference, I had the opportunity to interview Pulitzer Prize–winning historian David McCullough. (You can see excerpts from that interview in “David McCullough on Leadership,” Page 30, or download our whole conversation at Among the many things McCullough said that made a tremendous amount of sense to me was that leaders needed to be energetic. “You can’t be in second gear all the time and be much of a leader,” he said.

In order to summon that energy, in order to be the engine that drives the endeavor, in order to provide a positive example for the people who look to you to see how they should conduct themselves at work, executives and leaders have to take care of themselves. They need to stoke their own engines and do whatever it takes to feel good about themselves, mentally and physically. And while at first blush that may sound selfish, it is actually one of the most important parts of the job: making sure that you can come in to work each day with the enthusiasm, optimism and vitality necessary to lift the spirits of the people around you.

If you can’t do that, you might as well stay in bed.

* won the 2006 Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award for Best Website.