To lead your business to success, you must first lead yourself

Former Sportsgirl CEO Colleen Callander and executive life coach Shannah Kennedy are authors of Elevate and co-founders of Human Elevation.

Shannah Kennedy has coached top athletes, CEOs, and high-performing executives, empowering them to achieve their goals. Colleen Callander, with a 30-year retail career, is the former CEO of two top Australian fashion brands, Sportsgirl and Sussan. She’s known for building brands and winning cultures.

In this chat, we spoke about how to improve yourself, for the sake of improving your business.

Want to learn more? You can read or listen to our chat with Shannah Kennedy and Colleen Callander on YouTubeSpotifyListen Notes, or Player FM. It’s also available anywhere you listen to your favourite podcasts via Buzzsprout.

Authored by Shannah Kennedy and Colleen Callander, co-founders of Human Elevation.
Purchase your copy of Elevate: Unlock Your Extraordinary Potential.

Each of us faces a choice every morning: either we get up and just let life happen or we get up and take life by the reins. We can ask ourselves, “Who are we today and who do we want to be tomorrow?”

Our goal at Human Elevation is simple: to help you live your best self by balancing excellence in your career with overall happiness and health. It’s about finding that sweet spot where you can lead your business with strength, enjoy life, and keep up the momentum without burning out. Every single human on this planet can elevate themselves – you just need to find the extraordinary within. But before diving into how we can help you achieve this, let’s understand why leading oneself is so crucial.

Our experiences, especially during challenging times like the COVID pandemic, have shown us the consequences of ignoring self-care, including burnout, depression and lack of fulfilment. That’s why our book, Elevate, goes into detail about how to treat yourself as your most valuable asset and how to become your high-performance self.

Before you can lead others in your business, you have to be able to lead yourself. You need to build a sustainable lifestyle that embraces self-care, celebrates achievements, and fosters habits that benefit both your work and personal life. We believe these are the foundations of true success and fulfilment.

So how exactly can you elevate yourself to reach your full potential?

You are the athlete

Looking at successful athletes, we see they don’t achieve success through hard work alone. A big part of it is the smart, small changes they make to elevate their performance. Athletes rarely make huge changes to their routines. They fine-tune specific aspects like the way they breathe, run, or hit a ball.

This same idea can help us in the business world. Small adjustments to our daily habits – the way we think and move – can lead to better results in our careers and personal lives. This includes taking care of your mental and emotional health, not just your physical health.

If you think about it, we’re all athletes, running the marathon of life. A big part of being an athlete is setting clear goals, developing productive habits, and aiming for the best results. If you want to see real, lasting results, put your athlete hat on and start focusing on those goals, habits and results. Ask yourself what smart changes you can make to perform better. You don’t have to make big changes all at once. It’s the little adjustments that lead to big wins.

Practical steps to elevating yourself

To truly grow and reach your potential, ask yourself these key questions: What habits should I drop because they’re dragging me down? What positive habits should I take up to help me improve? And what good habits do I already have that I should keep doing? Here is an overview of some positive habits to start today:

Master the basics

Begin with the basics like breathing well, eating right, and keeping active. Simple actions like these can boost your well-being and performance. Just taking a moment to breathe deeply when you’re facing stress can help you stay calm and focused.

Set clear goals

Set clear, achievable goals for both personal and professional areas of your life. This will give you direction and motivation to move forward. It’s like knowing the route in a race; understanding where you need to go makes the journey smoother.

Celebrate success

Take time to recognise and celebrate your achievements, big or small. Life is pretty tough at the moment, but this habit will encourage you to keep pushing forward.

Control the controllable

This is another lesson we can borrow from athletes. When a tennis player is getting overloaded in a match and they’re losing every point, they know to calm themselves down, reframe the story that they’re telling themselves, and focus on controlling the controllable. When you’re drowning in a stressful situation, ask yourself, “What can I control in the next hour?”

Make small adjustments

Look at the little things in your daily routine that could be tweaked for better results. They don’t have to be huge changes. Maybe you can have two cups of coffee instead of three, or go to bed just half an hour earlier. Take small steps to start moving towards your ideal self.

Prioritise recovery

Roger Federer doesn’t finish an eight-hour match, goes home and sleeps. He sits on the bike, ices his legs, gets a massage, or refuels with the right nutrition and hydration. This is called high-performance recovery. Just as athletes do it, we should too. This means taking breaks, eating well, and getting enough rest.

The world moves fast. You’re trying to be all things to all people. You’re juggling family, your business, health, relationships, and everything in the world around you. It’s a marathon every day. So you need to be like an athlete, warming up, taking small breaks, and cooling down properly so that you can show up and do it all again the next day.

Enjoy the journey

Of course, we all love the feeling of achieving things, but we need to find fulfilment along the way and enjoy the journey. You shouldn’t just tick off all of those goals as fast as you can until you’re too exhausted to continue. By living a balanced life, where work, rest, and personal fulfilment are all important, you can maintain your peak performance without wearing yourself out.

Mindfulness in Leadership

Mindfulness is about being fully present and experiencing life for what it is in that moment. This mindfulness in your daily life will make you a better leader for your business because we can only be good to others when we’re good to ourselves. By staying present, focused, and managing stress effectively, you become a leader who communicates more effectively and makes decisions that are considerate of others. This positive leadership makes way for a positive work atmosphere and inspires confidence in the team.

Nobody wants to follow a leader who is always stressed, angry, or overwhelmed. We look up to leaders who are calm and collected because their confidence makes us feel more secure and confident too. When people are empowered and inspired, they achieve remarkable things, positively impacting the business’s success and bottom line.

Think of your team like a car. For a Ferrari to run smoothly, it needs regular maintenance like proper fuel, the air in its tyres, and routine check-ups. Similarly, for your team to function at its best, you need to take care of its basic needs. Make sure your team is well-rested, nourished, and mentally prepared for the challenges ahead. Keeping your team’s “tank” full ensures you all can give your best without feeling drained or stressed.

Mindfulness improves leadership because it’s about being aware of your own state and the state of those around you. For instance, even when things aren’t going perfectly, like a rainy week affecting sales, we can stay focused on what we can control and keep believing in our team’s ability to overcome challenges.

By incorporating this simple yet powerful practice into your life, you can enhance your leadership qualities while also enhancing your overall well-being.

Achieving your goals

Many business owners will say they’re too busy for their personal goals, too busy juggling multiple responsibilities. But if something matters to you, you’ll find the time for it, no matter how busy you are. If you’re making excuses for yourself, it’s either not important or you’re just too lazy. By focusing on just a few key goals, maybe two professional and one personal, you can concentrate your efforts and make greater progress.

Once you’ve decided on those personal goals, you need to write them down. When you write things down, you’re committing yourself. Consider what’s truly important to you, be it health, confidence, relationships, or finances, and put those goals on paper. 

At the end of the day, the key to success in both life and business starts with taking care of yourself. Adopting an athlete’s mindset where you set clear goals, make small improvements, and prioritise rest, you can achieve a high-performance life.

We hope our experiences and insights inspire you to elevate yourself in all aspects of your life. Remember, everyone has the potential to be extraordinary; it’s all about finding and nurturing it.