April 4, 2017  - Doescher Advisors Executives Health Checkup

Doescher Advisors Executives Health Check-up
Over several decades, I've gleaned a lot of health-related information from books, conferences, and various health experts. Actually, two of my mentors ---   Frank Moran and Ken Kunkel ---   were ahead of their time with their focus on executive health. Based on my observations, I've come to realize that most great leaders understand the impact of their overall health on their leadership, and they pay close attention to it.
Since my original Executives Health Check-up "Food For Thought," posted on April 21, 2015, I've had the pleasure of speaking with William Malarkey, M.D., a professor at Ohio State University and author of Take Control of Your Aging and Finding Joy. In his books, Dr. Malarkey describes the check-up that he refers to as the PIERS Model. It includes relational health, which I have now added to my own check-up. During our conversation, I asked him if he thought financial health might also be a significant category, and his response was, "Absolutely!" Based on that, I added it to my process

Take Control of Your Aging 

by William Malarkey, M.D.  

Finding J.O.Y. 

by William Malarkey, M.D.  
Borrowing from many sources, including Dr. Malarkey, I've developed the Doescher Advisors Executives Health Check-up, using the acronym SMERPF to represent the following six components: S (Spiritual); M (Mental); E (Emotional); R (Relational); P (Physical); and F (Financial).

In a person's life experience, all attributes are interconnected and affect how that individual behaves. Often, my mentors would say, "The whole person goes to work." They were right; that's exactly what I've observed.

Spiritual Health

Don't get nervous. I'm not going to get religious on you. However, based on my personal experience and what I've seen in studying many great leaders, I believe that at the inner core of all of us is a spirit, or a soul ---   or whatever you want to call it. I believe it's the "command center" that drives our behaviors, and causes us to do this and not do that. It is at the root of our actions.

Over the years, I've shared my Christian beliefs with people all over the world. Often, I would say, "This is what I believe and base my life on; what do you believe?"

My first challenge to you is this: Get in touch with your spiritual life. Take some time to think about the following questions: What do I believe, and why? Do my actions match what I say I believe?

Mental Health

By mental health, I mean the types of thoughts and ideas you're putting into your mind. To figure out what your mental focus is, I would suggest asking yourself several questions:
  1. What do I look at?
  2. What do I watch?
  3. What do I read?
  4. To what and to whom do I listen?  
Because all my readers are mature adults, I'm not going to give a bunch of examples. Instead, I encourage you to privately assess your answers to the four questions. I'm pretty sure the answers will have a huge impact on you. Here's one silly example, but it gives you an idea of what I mean. If you read the obituaries every day, it impacts you in some way ---   maybe good, maybe bad. My advice is to know which it is, because it makes an incredible difference in how you approach issues that arise in both your business and personal life.

Emotional Health

My epiphany with this trait came more than 25 years ago. There was ---   and is ---   a very well-known leader whom I consider to be a long-distance mentor through his books and conferences. At one of his presentations, he shared what he had learned in dealing with a bout of clinical depression. During his talk he said that prior to his illness, he had a daily routine of assessing his physical and spiritual health (he knew, like many of us, that he was going at it pretty hard, and he didn't want to get derailed). What he discovered during his illness was that he needed to monitor his emotional health as well as what was going on physically and spiritually. These are my takeaways from his talk:
  1. All of us have a fixed amount of emotional energy.
  2. Just like not eating will cause physical problems, negative emotional energy can do the same.
  3. Some people give you emotional energy.
  4. Other people drain you of emotional energy.
  5. Know who those people are.
  6. Limit your time with the drainers.

Like this leader, I would recommend assessing your emotional energy daily, and I suggest that you monitor your time with drainers. This may sound harsh, but remember that you're the leader of the whole team, not just that one person(s).

Relational Health

If I ask you this ---   Is there someone from whom you need to ask forgiveness, or is there someone you need to forgive? ---   does a particular name come to mind? Over 20 years ago, I heard a pastor teaching on this subject, and I still remember his message, entitled "Repair Ruptured Relationships." Do you have a relationship that you need to repair?

If you're married, this is a huge area. Even after spending 46 years with Barbara, I'm still trying to get it right. Here are a few tips from others:
  1. If you have unkind thoughts/words (or have made up a story in your mind per Crucial Conversations) , do something about it.
  2. If you feel divided, do something about it; counseling could be helpful.
  3. Fatigue is often the enemy. Reschedule difficult conversations for a time when you both have more energy.
  4. Are you being prideful (i.e., it's his or her fault)?
  5. Be patient. Yes, I said be patient. ( Editorial comment: I know what to do; I just can't always do it.)
  6. Remember that marriage is hard, but worth it!

Physical Health

If you're reading this post, chances are you probably know plenty about your physical health. Things to ask when evaluating your physical health include:
  1. Is there something that's been bothering me for a while? Don't ignore pains/symptoms, like I have done. They won't go away.
  2. Am I getting regular feedback from my doctor? Get an annual physical and follow your doctor's advice, or get a new doctor.
  3. Am I getting enough sleep? Most experts would recommend seven to eight hours per night. I've found that some of us need more.
  4. How much do I weigh? Do your best to stay within your recommended body weight.
  5. Am I giving my body the fuel it needs? Eat regular, balanced, healthy meals.
  6. Am I moving enough? Exercise regularly. I suggest having a trainer design an exercise program that meets your specific needs.

Financial Health

I've spoken about this subject in my blog post, It's All About the Expenses, Not the Income. Now I would add to those comments the concept of "financial independence." Here's one definition: "It means you can do whatever you want without having to worry about money. Work would be an option and you become a master of your destiny, at least financially ." It's a worthwhile goal to shoot for.

In my practice, I've encountered a number of very successful executives who have failed in this category. My suggestion is to get a good financial planner.


Based on my experience, if you're not doing well in your spiritual, mental, emotional, relational, physical, and financial life, it will directly impact your overall health. Where you have cracks, they will be exposed.

My mother-in-law is 98 years old and has excellent health and no pain. Her secret weapon is moderation.

Finally, in my conversation with Dr. Malarkey, he emphasized the importance of gratitude. Do you feel grateful?

So, now you have it ---   the complete program known as the Doescher Advisors Executives Health Check-up. Sad to say, I've known too many talented leaders who have ignored one of these aspects of their health and have fallen short of their full potential. That's why I recommend periodically performing a gut check and asking, "How am I doing spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, relationally, and financially?"

Seek. Climb. Lead.

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