Your leadership performance can be broken down into the sum of your performance of your core assets and resources: your mind and your body - it is that simple!
Your mind and body, therefore, when working optimally, will provide you with increased levels of
Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
The list can certainly be expanded, but those qualities likely will help you to significantly boost your leadership performance.
Once your core resources are working optimally, you can now define your mission, vision, values, purpose, as well your own unique leadership style based on the mindfulness leadership principles as guidance. Then apply what you have decided on - and this way, you can maximize your positive contributions to this planet to shape a new workplace while living a motto of “Work less, achieve more …” - This is The Mindful Leader approach to balance and high performance.
In a previous article I emphasized the importance of setting up a regular mind-management practice to upgrade your “mind operating system” or software. There are a variety of proven mind-hacking approaches that work very well, and you can get a glimpse of this in the podcast episode with Sir John Hargrave on this topic.
Many Leaders lead an unbalanced and unhealthy Lifestyle
Many leaders, however, in my experience, ignore their body and wellbeing and treat it as given. As long as it (somehow) works, little to minimal effort will be given to it until, through a gradual decline, the body reaches its limits, and the symptoms of misuse gradually show up.
When ignored, the intensity of these symptoms will increase, and sickness knocks on your door.
How do I know this is true?
Well, I went through it myself about 10 years ago. Through a constant stressful work environment, working long hours, and with little balance, my body was in an overall bad shape. Symptoms like high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, and anxiety attacks were the norm, screaming for attention.
The doctors I visited at this time were not really of any use or help to me. I received some medication to address the symptoms, but not the underlying cause. Worse, the side effects caused by some of the medications made my quality of life actually worse.
While working with many leaders in the past years as a tech sparring partner, trainer, and coach, I’ve seen the same patterns repeatedly.
The human body, as probably one of the most complex systems in this world, is designed to work perfectly well, as long as you provide it with the right kind and dosage of atoms in the form of proper nutrition, along with oxygen to metabolize it, give it sufficient rest (sleep), enough exercises, the rest will be taken care of.
It is actually very straightforward when you think about it.
But then why is it the case that many leaders (and employees) as well are facing burnout at some point in their career, and numbers are on the rise?
What are the underlying causes of this?
As I mentioned above, one aspect is a lack of presence and body awareness. We are sometimes not able to feel our bodies and emotions as a result of a low LPA (level of present awareness).
But even if we are aware and know we need to do something, it is not clear what - there is a lack of knowledge. We have not learned in school proper nutrition knowledge or, in a broader sense, the basics of “biohacking.”
Worse, we may think we are doing something good for our body, like doing a strenuous exercise routine on a daily basis, that will actually do more harm than good. Finding the right balance of what we do matters most. So while doing no exercise is bad for our body, doing too much of it also is bad. It is the optimal dosage that matters most, and this one depends on our unique physiology.
Last but not least, there is a lack of experience when it comes to optimizing your body. Even if you have some knowledge, you will need to apply it yourself to your own body and then measure and track changes or progress. Some advice may work well for others, but not for you.
The best advice we probably may have obtained was from our parents or better grandparents, as they still had some wisdom on what to eat, and what habits are helpful. Of course, their knowledge was not always backed up by science. Some of it may actually not be that relevant anymore, but this type of guidance like “eat more fruits and vegetables” even today is quite relevant.
What is Biohacking?
Biohacking initially sounds like a fancy or trendy term. But let’s look at the definition from Dave Asprey first:
Biohacking is the art and science of changing the environment around you and inside you, so you have more control over your own biology
It is about taking ownership of your health and well-being, using science-based evidence, but then applying an experimental and curious mindset with clear measurements to determine what changes work well for you and which don't.
It is also about being proactive rather than reactive.
Yes, you may think you are healthy now, but trust me - if you don’t have sufficient data, you can’t really know for sure. For this reason, I've tracked more than 300+ biomarkers (think about as a key performance indicator for some aspect of your body) over the years. If someone asks me questions related to my health status, I can certainly answer with more confidence.
I’ve personally seen huge improvements over the past years in my overall health and well-being status, as well as increased levels of resilience, energy, and clarity (and all the others mentioned above). I can measure these improvements, but certainly, I can obviously feel them as well.
Biohacking, therefore, if done right, can have a huge impact on your life.
But it requires mind-management to be successful. Without a certain level of present awareness, your attempts to explore it and make it work, in my experience, will fail.
Therefore, you start with upgrading your mind first and then in parallel start upgrading your body.
Focusing on Results: Biohacking for Leaders
As the field of biohacking is very broad and requires much knowledge to absorb, I always look for practical approaches using the 80/20 rule, which means achieving 80% of the results with minimal effort.
Leaders typically have a specific profile and follow certain patterns (e.g., working long hours, not balancing their body/mind well enough, neglecting their body, etc.). As a tech leader with more than 20 years of experience in Silicon Valley, I experience all of these problems (and more) myself. Therefore I can greatly relate to those.
When we now focus on those few patterns that are typically common among leaders, we can look at a specific subset of biohacking activities that give us a high probability of seeing quick positive changes:
Optimized sleep and recovery throughout the day
Healthy nutrition combined with relevant supporting micronutrients
A minimal, but highly effective exercise routine
A system (supported by tech) that allows us to monitor and track progress and make adjustments
Once you start collecting and measuring your biomarkers by creating your own “personal dashboard”, you will quickly notice problematic areas.
In my experience for leaders these are mostly (but there are more):
High load of toxins and heavy metals in the body
Low levels of hormones and neurotransmitters
Insufficient levels of key minerals and vitamins
Bad sleep hygiene
Unhealthy eating habits
An unbalanced lifestyle that is not providing sufficient levels of recovery
In the past years, I have studied practical aspects of functional and integrative medicine in depth, became a member of Dave Asprey’s upgrade collective, started my journey on becoming a Human Potential Coach, went deep into genetics and epigenetics, and am still going deeper into exploring micronutrients today. This was (and still is) a lot of work, and I expect not everyone is willing to do this.
For that reason, I decided to share my learnings and experience by setting up a training program, “Biohacking for Leaders,” - that condenses this knowledge and makes it easy to access and integrate into your daily life.
It is supported through regular coaching (group coaching or 1:1), as I see this as a key ingredient for gradually introducing all those lifestyle changes successfully.
However, absorbing knowledge really is just the start.
The more complicated part is to upgrade your mind with these newer healthy habits (or programs, subroutines). As you may have heard, it takes some time to adopt new habits. Neuroscience researchers concluded it could take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit, so the old myth of 21 days, unfortunately, is not that helpful after all.
It is recommended that you treat yourself as a “project.” As you are used to driving goals to a conclusion to obtain specific results, this can be seen as just another one of those goals. The only difference is, that it is your health and wellbeing that is the focus here.
I devised a program to get you get you started with biohacking and achieve profound results within 3 months. It is a curriculum that applies the above 80/20 rule, with a focus of getting you results quickly.
I offer regular informational Q&A sessions on this topic. The next is scheduled for October 28 - join me there!
Read a book like “Headstrong” (Dave Asprey) to learn the basic of upgrading your body
There are several podcasts on biohacking related topics on The Mindful Leader podcast. I recommend you browse through the titles that resonate well with you.
Join the Fellowship of Mindful Tech Leaders to network and mastermind with like-minded leaders on topics like mind-management, biohacking, and leadership mastery.
If you are ready to prioritze biohacking to increase your resilience, energy levels, and focus, consider joining the Circle of Mindful Tech Leaders, a small community of passionate leaders who are taking ownership in upgrading their mind and body. It is offered as a premium service comprising weekly teachings and a bi-weekly group Q&A coaching session
Contact me for a short-exploratory get-to-know meeting to review your options that most likely yield the best results.