Any parent will tell you that a kid who hasn’t gotten enough sleep is going to struggle. You’ve probably seen parents ply cranky children with snacks to improve their mood. And sometimes it is clear a child just can’t handle the situation they are in and needs a change of scenery. Once you are attuned to this you quickly realize it’s not just the kids. In life and at work, factors like sleep and hunger play a bigger role than most adults care to admit. And sometimes we all just need a change of scenery to get back on track.
We’ve all heard that sleep and diet are important. But I doubt any of us are really aware of how acutely these things affect us. Studies have identified human error at least in part caused by sleep deficits to be responsible for the meltdown at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the grounding of the Exxon Valdez oil tanker, and the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. Judges have been shown to give more lenient sentences after they have eaten lunch. Even being intellectually aware of these factors, I usually can’t identify an emotional deficit until it has already affected me. Perhaps that’s why my colleague Ami Vora brings snacks for everyone to key meetings.
When I started working on ads one of my first trips was to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit Procter & Gamble. The meeting lasted several days and the schedule was packed. By the end my energy had flagged considerably. In contrast I was really impressed by our counterparts at P> they seemed as crisp as the day we started. I remarked as such to their Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard. He mentioned that they follow a corporate athlete program that covers sleep, hydration, exercise, diet, and more.
To bring this full circle I’ll admit that being a parent of young kids makes it hard to give corporate athlete training the attention it might otherwise deserve. But at the very least being mindful of my emotional state and the factors that govern it — and being mindful that others may be similarly in a deficit of some kind — has helped me stay better connected to my team day to day. And when I have a big event coming up I carve out extra time to focus on the factors that I know can give me a higher capacity to perform.