Man splashing in the water | end 2020 on a high note survive and thrive in 2021

10 Powerful Habits for Business Leaders to Tackle in 2021

Mike Kotsis Leadership, Team Health

This year turned the world upside down and brought it to a standstill. Everything came to a stop in March of 2020 here in Michigan, and in many other places around the country and the world. 

Every business leader faced an unprecedented challenge that was on no one’s contingency plan or SWOT analysis. For some, the coronavirus was a matter of survival. For others, it was an opportune time to take a step back, reflect, and find a path forward to thrive on new opportunities.

How do effective business leaders respond to COVID-19 in the way they live their lives? I’ve learned more than I can say from my clients and my coaches alike. From these superstars, I adopted a set of best practices to keep myself sharp mentally, emotionally, and physically. 

Here are the top 10 habits I’ve relied on to survive and thrive in 2020.

10 Ways to Tackle 2021

1) Clarity Breaks

Take a Clarity Break once a week, at a minimum. It’s essential, period. I wrote an article a while back with some practical tips and discoveries I made while taking a Clarity Break, and how to make it a habit in your own busy life.

2) Be still

Practice stillness and uninterrupted quiet time through daily meditation or prayer. I’ve found it to be incredibly centering, and it returns me to a much bigger context — God, the creator of all creation. It also puts all my worries and anxieties into a much different perspective. If you’ve never tried meditating, Insight Timer and Headspace are great places to start.   

Ryan Holiday, in his book Stillness is the Key, draws on a wide range of history’s greatest thinkers, from Confucius to Nietzsche. He shows that stillness is not mere inactivity, but the doorway to self-mastery, discipline, and focus.  

3) Exercise daily

Countless studies have shown the impact that exercise has on your health and mental wellbeing. I do an intense HIT workout with a group of 20 guys every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday before dawn. When I can’t make those workouts because of schedule challenges, I use an amazing online alternative that I love: Julie Diamond’s 30 minute HIT workouts. You will feel the impact for days. Julie is awesome.

4) Breathe

Feeling stressed? Focus on your breathing for 10 minutes a day. Why? I’ve discovered a great deal of clarity, energy, and creativity by simply focusing on breathing. I breathe in slowly for a 7 count, and out for a 5 count. 

The power of focusing on your breath will slow you down to become aware of the present moment. The present moment is the only moment we have in front of us and it’s where our inner wisdom surfaces. The Breathing App by Eddie Stern is incredibly helpful — I was introduced to it through my coach, Stephen McGhee, in his L4 Program.  

5) Cold therapy

Ever try a cold shower? It sounds scary, but they’re actually quite beneficial. Cold showers boost your health by strengthening both your cardiovascular system and your immune system. I’ve known about this for a long time, but what finally sold me on it was Dr. Mark Hyman’s interview of Wim Hof, “The Iceman.” You can also read Wim’s articles about the incredible benefits of cold showers.  At the time I write this article, I’m up to two-minute ice cold showers, daily. 

6) Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is a 16-hour or 18-hour fast for five days per week. Doing this helped me to cut the extra snacking at night, because it was no longer an option. When I ate, I noticed my food choices became instinctually healthier, and I felt better. 

I was nervous about doing this at first, because I thought I’d have less energy. But I found the opposite to be true: I have MORE energy throughout the day. As a side benefit, I lost 20 pounds earlier this year! I LOVE the Zero app for tracking intermittent fasting.

7) Infrared sauna

My wife and I are committed to a lifestyle of wellness and health. We purchased an in-home infrared sauna after having researched it for about five years. The Sunlighten Sauna’s infrared rays have tremendous healing benefits that give your body a way to detox whatever it’s fighting, quickly. It’s also one of the top saunas to help prevent and fight cancer. We use it three to five times per week and absolutely love it.

8) Juice cleanse

We wanted to rid our bodies of toxins and strengthen our immune system, so we tried a two-day juice cleanse from the restaurant Beyond Juice. They make it super easy by preparing everything for you with a checklist of when to drink each bottle throughout the day. This was a fun experiment without putting in tons of added work on our shoulders.

9) 4-minute anaerobic workouts

The Four-Minute Workout is a new concept of exercise that revolves around the body’s ability to use nitric oxide for muscle growth. This is an efficient anaerobic workout that can be done several times a day. The more frequently you do it, the better the results. 

I’ve used this workout a number of times in sessions with leadership teams to help get our bodies moving. Originally, I did this only during virtual Zoom sessions, but quickly realized the benefits of getting our bodies moving after every break, whether we’re sitting at a screen or not. It unlocks a whole new level of creativity. 

10) Gratitude journaling

Years ago I started a habit of journaling 10 things I’m grateful for each day. It helps me to center on gratitude for what matters most. It also helps me to reframe challenges into blessings. Fears and worries melt away when I center my heart on gratitude. Sean Croxton has a podcast episode where Sandy Gallagher demonstrates the massive impact gratitude journaling has had in her life, as well as those she works with. 

Don’t Let 2020 Knock You Down!

If 2020 feels overwhelming to you, you’re not alone! But practicing these habits can make a powerful difference in your professional and personal life. I don’t recommend starting everything on this list at once — instead, pick one thing that intrigues you most and try it. Treat it as an experiment and pay attention to how your body feels for the rest of the day. Just notice it. And let me know how your experience is with it!

As a business leader, what has been the most impactful thing you’ve done in 2020 to strengthen your mental, emotional, and physical health? Email me — I’d love to know about it!