How important is good health as a competitive advantage in business?
Attractive people have all sorts of proven workplace advantages over unattractive folks. And fitness is one of the most important and controllable dimensions of your looks. So it follows that fit people probably get more job offers, venture funding, and promotions. And obviously attractive people have an advantage when it comes to sales and negotiating.
Fit people have more energy to put into every task. And we all know that humans perform better when they have more energy. Studies back that observation.
Energy influences your optimism, your ambition, and how others see you. Those are big deals too.
And studies show that exercise and diet have a huge influence on brain health. You need your brain for most occupational challenges.
Stating the obvious, healthy people have fewer sick days than unhealthy people.
Depending on your sporting preferences, exercise might be a great networking tool as well. You tend to form lifelong friendships with your running pals, tennis partners, soccer teammates, and so on.
Exercise and proper nutrition have a huge impact on your stress levels. And you know you don’t operate efficiently when your body is in stress mode.
Successful people tend to be lifelong exercisers. But correlation does not prove causation. Folks that have the energy, discipline and drive necessary for career success probably have what it takes to hit the gym every day too. So while it’s probably true that exercise improves your odds of success, it might be truer that highly disciplined and energetic people are more likely to succeed at both work and exercise.
Still, there’s enough science to say that fitness increases your odds of career success. That’s why my book on the topic of success (the book that shall remain nameless here because you are tired of hearing about it) has chapters on diet and exercise. I would go so far as to say that any book on success that ignores your health is tragically incomplete.
So how did readers react to seeing diet and exercise information in a book about success?
Not so good.
And the problem wasn’t my lack of credibility, given that I show my sources and those sources are credible. Based on the reader reviews on Amazon, lots of folks consider diet and exercise inappropriate “filler” for a book on success.
My moist robot view of the world says health is the number one priority for success. So I worry about the folks who want more out of life and don’t see diet and exercise as the starting points for that journey.
I blame the media for putting diet and exercise in the “vanity” bucket while hard work and education are in the “success” bucket. I’d like to see diet and exercise in the success bucket, with vanity as the side benefit of both fitness and success. Business publications should be talking about diet and exercise on a regular basis. That would be more useful than the ridiculousness they write about passion, engagement, and doing your own research to pick stocks. I’m not going to say that Shape magazine is a better guide to workplace success than your favorite business publication, but it’s probably a close call.
In your opinion, where do you rank diet and exercise in terms of importance to success? Do any of you put it at the top of your lists?