There is no badge of honour to do overtime on a consistent basis.
Yes, you read it. So please, stop it NOW!
This is an issue that I am getting asked for years now. Whether it was during my college days or amongst some of my peers. And as if it requires some unique gifts from God to do the same thing, people find excuses for their inability to change their habits.
I am not talking about creating miracles. I am talking about regular exercising and its impact on our overall performance, energy level and happiness. In my case, it’s four times a week.
Especially in our days where Instagram posts and stories suggest you need to hustle 24/7 to get what you want, people talk themselves into the narrative to sacrifice everything.
Overtime DOES NOT improve your performance.
How on earth has society created the narrative that you need to work more and to sacrifice everything else in your life to be “successful”? How many hours of overtime have you done and felt completely burnt out, and yet, neither fulfilled nor energised by the outcome you produced?
I have never understood people who wear their amount of overtime as a badge of honour. Especially those who are in managerial positions. I sometimes question whether they realise what kind of impact this has on employees and other peers. I often hear phrases such as:
- “My manager hasn’t left the office, so I should probably stick around a bit longer in my cube.”
- “What will my peers think about me when I leave the office a bit earlier? They will probably badmouth me!”
- “Oh I need to stay longer because if I can get three hours more work done then I can really crush it. Will take care of my health in 90 days.”
And then, one day becomes never.
We see the impact already. Everyday. A 2014 Harvard Business Review highlighted the significant advantages of exercising on a regular basis that boost one’s mental fitness.
It’s common sense to work out regularly, to eat clean and healthy and to spend more time with the people who care and love us to improve our well-being. Especially our emotional well-being. But what’s common sense is rarely common practice.
We are not pushed to sacrifice our health. At the end of the day, we choose them.
Listen. People will either talk about you or judge you anyway regardless whether you leave the office one hour earlier for your exercise, you wear green pants instead of black ones, you wear sneakers or loafers (I love my Italian loafers, and it’s an eye-catcher for everyone!) or whether you talk way too loud in the office.
People will talk about you. And what other people choose to do doesn’t mean you need to do them ether. I get the idea that most people simply want to avoid pain which is not to be judged or to be seen in the eyes of the peers as a weirdo.
But at what cost?
If you don’t take care of your health and your regular exercise you
- are more likely to get feel burnt-out completely
- have tremendous issues handling your stress-level
- don’t have the energy level that is requires from you to own your day and to perform well at work
- will suffer from obesity, higher blood pressure and less focus
- will have a lack energy and vitality to take care of your other areas in life, such as your family and your intimate relationship.
Now, do you think that will increase your productivity and your performance? The amount of performance that you desperately want to have?
Leadership by Example: Cultivate a habit to exercise more to improve performance
You want to perform better as a team or as an organisation? Then stop categorising people in different groups to determine their performance. Stop telling people they don’t have the natural talent to perform well and to make a contribution unless you aim for self-destruction.
We can perform well and we can feel more vivid, excited and enthusiastic if people simply would take care more of themselves.
That’s why leadership by example is so crucial to this one. We need to be a better example. We need to be the best possible self for others. Especially senior leaders and executives can take an important role by starting initiatives that precisely address this issue.
Don’t “crush it” by leaving the office after 10 or 12 hours. Leave the office a bit earlier and announce to your peers you take care of yourself by doing your regular exercising programme, especially if you are a senior executive.
Form workout groups. Find a workout buddy. Show up. Give them enough space to implement little habits that can have a significant increase on their overall well-being. Address this issue in dedicated events. Educate your peers and help them along the way to implement those habits. To reduce stress, overwhelm and fear. Lead by example.
Own your habits. Own your life.
I don’t say that working overtime is a bad thing per se. It’s sometimes required. But if we genuinely want to perform better and to reach a higher level of performance, it’s time to rethink and to act differently than what’s commonly spread on social media and what’s being practiced at our workplace.
At the end of the day, you need to start by yourself. And you can start small. Don’t be too overwhelmed by this! Even the smallest changes to your daily routine can have a significant impact. Start with 10-15 push-ups in the morning, stretch yourself. Instead of taking the bus, walk to the office (I do it all the time). Implement these little changes today. Do it consistently. And watch as your feeling of vitality and your performance will increase over time.
People will judge you anyway if you do this. Because they don’t like the change in behaviour that you set in place in the beginning.
But it’s worth the try. Don’t walk away from this. OWN IT. Own your habits. And show leadership by example.