Wellness is such a buzz word these days. Taking care of yourself needs to be a top priority. I know that you may feel stressed and overwhelmed with work, family, friends, or other commitments, but at the end of the day, your health should be your most prized commodity.
My theory is that an individual's personal wellness must be a top priority in order to achieve one's major corporate goals. Not only do I teach this method, but I live it too. Every. Single. Day.
I make a conscious effort to prioritize my health and well-being in my daily life. As a competitive athlete and avid runner dedicated to a strict fitness and nutrition regimen, I participate in ongoing marathons and IRONMAN 70.3 competitions across the globe. And of course, when I am not competing, I spend my time training and fueling myself for the next race. Following this routine has strengthened and nourished my body and mind in numerous ways and I reap the benefits of it every day. Over the next few months, I will embark on several major races. In September, I will be running a Marathon in Capetown, South Africa. Then in October, I am going back for my second year running 55 Miles through the Serengeti in Africa. This time I will bring along a mentee, friend, and Olympian, Veronica Day. Last year when I did this run, it was one of the most incredible and life changing experiences that I have ever had. Speaking with the young girls there was eye opening and I learned just as much from them as I hope they did from me. Embracing the open terrain and being with my thoughts as I ran was incredible. The self reflection and how I was able to push my body to the edge with such a strenuous run is something that I had trained for so year after year.
To keep the momentum going, in November I will be running in the TCS New York City Marathon. And then in December, I will be completing an IRONMAN 70.3 in Cartagena, Colombia. I did not always compete in these types of races, however, I worked up to it through rigorous training sessions. I was sure to put my health and wellness as a major priority. I needed to. With all of the travel and stress of managing a global team, wellness needed to take precedence. The emails can wait, your health cannot. Something very serious to consider.
Being conscious of my health not only benefits my body and mind, but my corporate life as well. I have completed many races this year – all of which helped me stay focused in my personal life and in the office. Following a schedule and setting goals when training and competing fosters an organized and centered mind when I am at work. I can focus on what I want to execute and achieve. The cadence of training is very similar to the way that I operate in the corporate landscape.
Similarly, I attribute many of my most prized leadership qualities, including motivation, perseverance and a stellar ability to navigate the daily struggle of balance, to an active and healthy lifestyle that is the impetus for day-to-day accomplishments. I first learned how to motivate myself to prioritize my well-being and how to persevere when training becomes a challenge. I worked to find a balance that fit my lifestyle. Then I was able to transfer those skills that I learned to helping others. After all, if you cannot take care of yourself, you cannot take care of your team.
These are just a few of the reasons why I choose to make my health and well-being a top priority. Now the question is how do I balance this choice alongside corporate ambition? How do I find the time and motivation? One way that I am able to do both is that I actually do much of my business strategizing while working out. I am able to let my mind think about business while my body focuses on my wellness. It also helps that training gives me a sense of fulfillment. I want to exercise because I like the way I feel afterwards and I am happy with what I accomplished. This translates to the business side of things as well, the sense of completion.
Schedule your fitness into your calendar. If it's on the calendar it is real.
Set goals. Reward yourself when you make progress, whether it's with a new outfit, new running shoes, or a pedicure that you have been dying to have. Treat yourself.
Make time to move. Choose a fitness goal and obtain it. Whether it be running a 5K or a marathon. Every time you train you will become stronger.
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"Sh*t!" my daughter exclaimed as she dropped her iPad to the floor. A little bit of context; my daughter Victoria absolutely loves her iPad. And as I watched her bemoan the possible destruction of her favorite device, I thought to myself, "If I were in her position, I'd probably say the exact same thing."
In the Rastegar family, a word is only a bad word if used improperly. This is a concept that has almost become a family motto. Because in our household, we do things a little differently. To put it frankly, our practices are a little unconventional. Completely safe, one hundred percent responsible- but sure, a little unconventional.
And that's because my husband Ari and I have always felt akin in one major life philosophy; we want to live our lives our way. We have dedicated ourselves to a lifetime of questioning the world around us. And it's that philosophy that has led us to some unbelievable discoveries, especially when it comes to parenting.
Ari was an English major. And if there's one thing that can be said about English majors, it's that they can be big-time sticklers for the rules. But Ari also thinks outside of the box. And here's where these two characteristics meet. Ari was always allowed to curse as a child, but only if the word fit an appropriate and relevant context. This idea came from Ari's father (his mother would have never taken to this concept), and I think this strange practice really molded him into the person he is today.
But it wasn't long after we met that I discovered this fun piece of Ari Rastegar history, and I got to drop a pretty awesome truth bomb on Ari. My parents let me do the same exact thing…
Not only was I allowed to curse as a child, but I was also given a fair amount of freedom to do as I wanted. And the results of this may surprise you. You see, despite the lack of heavy regulating and disciplining from my parents, I was the model child. Straight A's, always came home for curfew, really never got into any significant trouble- that was me. Not trying to toot my own horn here, but it's important for the argument. And don't get the wrong impression, it's not like I walked around cursing like a sailor.
Perhaps I was allowed to curse whenever I wanted, but that didn't mean I did.
And this is where we get to the amazing power of this parenting philosophy. In my experience, by allowing my own children to curse, I have found that their ability to self-regulate has developed in an outstanding fashion. Over the past few years, Victoria and Kingston have built an unbelievable amount of discipline. And that's because our decision to allow them to curse does not come without significant ground rules. Cursing must occur under a precise and suitable context, it must be done around appropriate company, and the privilege cannot be overused. By following these guidelines, Victoria and Kingston are cultivating an understanding of moderation, and at a very early age are building a social awareness about when and where certain types of language are appropriate. And ultimately, Victoria and Kingston are displaying the same phenomenon present during my childhood. Their actual instances of cursing are extremely low.
And beneath this parenting strategy is a deeper philosophy. Ari and I first and foremost look at parenting as educators. It is not our job to dictate who our children will be, how they shall behave, and what their future should look like.
We are not dictators; we are not imposing our will on them. They are autonomous beings. Their future is in their hands, and theirs alone.
Rather, we view it as our mission to show our children what the many possibilities of the world are and prepare them for the litany of experiences and challenges they will face as they develop into adulthood. Now, when Victoria and Kingston come across any roadblocks, they have not only the tools but the confidence to handle these tensions with pride, independence, and knowledge.
And we have found that cursing is an amazing place to begin this relationship as educators. By allowing our children to curse, and gently guiding them towards the appropriate use of this privilege, we are setting a groundwork of communication that will eventually pay dividends as our children grow curious of less benign temptations; sex, drugs, alcohol. There is no fear, no need to slink behind our backs, but rather an open door where any and all communication is rewarded with gentle attention and helpful wisdom.
The home is a sacred place, and honesty and communication must be its foundation. Children often lack an ability to communicate their exact feelings. Whether out of discomfort, fear, or the emotional messiness of adolescence, children can often be less than transparent. Building a place of refuge where our children feel safe enough to disclose their innermost feelings and troubles is, therefore, an utmost priority in shepherding their future. Ari and I have come across instances where our children may have been less than truthful with a teacher, or authority figure simply because they did not feel comfortable disclosing what was really going on. But with us, they know that honesty is not only appreciated but rewarded and incentivized. This allows us to protect them at every turn, guard them against destructive situations, and help guide and problem solve, fully equipped with the facts of their situation.
And as crazy as it all sounds- I really believe in my heart that the catalogue of positive outcomes described above truly does stem from our decision to allow Victoria and Kingston to curse freely.
I know this won't sit well with every parent out there. And like so many things in life, I don't advocate this approach for all situations. In our context, this decision has more than paid itself off. In another, it may exacerbate pre-existing challenges and prove to be only a detriment to your own family's goals.
As the leader of your household, this is something that you and you alone must decide upon with intentionality and wisdom.
Ultimately, Ari and I want to be the kind of people our children genuinely want to be around. Were we not their parents, I would hope that Victoria and Kingston would organically find us interesting, warm, kind, funny, all the things we aspire to be for them each and every day.
We've let our children fly free, and fly they have. They are amazing people. One day, when they leave the confines of our home, they will become amazing adults. And hopefully, some of the little life lessons and eccentric parenting practices we imparted upon them will serve as a support for their future happiness and success.