In the last seven days I had the big honor to give the keynote presentations for Boston Consulting Group (BCG) New Year’s receptions in Frankfurt and Stuttgart (click here and here for more event pictures).

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The overall topic on the agenda was #sustainability and what business leaders can do about it. BCG partner Patrick Herhold impressively demonstrated that our current global climate actions are by far not enough to meet our environmental sustainability goals by 2050. (Click here to download BCG’s “The Net-Zero Challenge” study published in cooperation with the World Economic Forum.)

But we also discussed another aspect of sustainability that we often forget about – PERSONAL sustainability.

Personal Sustainability

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We can only solve our huge global challenges around climate change if we are able to sustain our personal energy level, our cognitive (and physical) performance and our health over the long term. These epic challenges require our peak performance over the next years and decades.

But how can we do that?

Well, sustainable peak performance follows a very simple formula: Stress + Recovery = Sustainable Peak Performance.

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Many people hate stress and try to avoid it by all means. But we need it. It’s a very powerful stimulus to trigger adaptation and growth. But this growth only happens AFTERWARDS – if we rest and recharge.

  • Too much stress without adequate rest and we deteriorate or even burn out.
  • Too little stress and too much rest and we stagnate.

Only if we find the right balance between stress and recovery we can sustain and grow our performance over the long term.

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While the concept behind is pretty simple the implementation in real life is very hard.

If the going gets tough around us, the first thing that we typically sacrifice is… our breaks: the little break in between, the lunch break, the evening hours, our sleep, the Sunday afternoon, our vacation…

But it does not have to be like that. Even for people working in the most stressful environments we have recovery strategies at hand that help you recharge fast and effectively. (One of these strategies that we discussed is Deep Sleep Densification – a way to maximize your recovery at night without sleeping longer.)

Yes it’s effort involved.

Yes, it takes courage.

Yes, it takes discipline.

And it takes the right skills….

But we need to start prioritizing our recovery. Because the price for ignoring it is too high. Not only for ourselves. But also for our environment…

My Plea to all Leaders on LinkedIN

If the most influential politicians, business leaders and change makers don’t have the energy and creativity to develop the right strategies…

If they don’t have the charisma and power to lead their people into the right direction…

How can we possibly succeed in making our world more sustainable for ourselves and our children?

We can’t! So let’s take action…

Let’s start making our leadership approach more sustainable.

Let’s start creating leadership cultures where sparkling eyes are cooler than tired, red eyes.

A culture where people can be successful in their jobs, create huge value, solve the most pressing problems WITHOUT sacrificing their personal energy, health and happiness.

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But this doesn’t happen by chance or by itself. Like Gandhi said: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Lead by example!

Inspire your people with your energy level, your health and the spark in your eyes.

Become a sustainability role model!

And create an environment where those people working with you can achieve the same.

Let’s create a leadership culture with less red eyes and more sparkling eyes!

Will you join?

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Listen to The Corresponding 2-Minute Podcast: Less Red Eyes – More Sparkling Eyes

Bringing it All Together

A huge part of Sustainable Leadership is about transforming our business models into a carbon-free and climate-neutral future. But that’s not all. Sustainable Leadership is ALSO about sustaining our own energy levels, peak performance and health AND being a great role model for others so that we are able to master the epic challenges ahead of us so and we can hand over a planet to the next generation that we’re proud of.

What are your thoughts on this? Please let me know in the comments below…

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