On Mortification and Leadership

Every so often I will spend time doing a 2 day detox using something simple like Arden’s Garden’s concoction that includes grapefruit, oranges, and lemons. The goal is to consume nothing more than 2 gallons of liquid for 2 days (no food!).

This periodic form of fasting helps cleanse the body and it does a serious number on me in all forms – emotionally, psychologically, and physically. I get incredibly moody and I become a terribly moody person; in other words, I am pretty much a nightmare to live and work with. And even though I know this it’s almost impossible for me to manage it well.

I become the super-grumps, as my wife likes to say. There. It is what it is. But I always survive and I am always better for it; it is worth it every single time.

Consequently, I believe that this principle of challenging oneself to become “master” over their body is an important concept to consume even if it is very difficult. I believe this idea of mortification is an important one for entrepreneurs, leaders, and everyone for that matter.

Mortification, for those that need a quick reminder/primer, is the action of subduing one’s bodily desires and typically has religious or spiritual connotations and roots but I believe it’s application can be generally administered in other areas of life.

Essentially, it’s the idea of overcoming obstacles and not becoming a slave to the inessentials, the things that bog us down and keep us from being optimal and our very best.

And to do this you must practice mortification, you must practice the discipline of overcoming, and you must continually execute against those practices so that you might iterate and becoming better at them constantly. You must “die” to the things that must be removed so that you have time, energy, and space for the things that matter more. It is the art and science of triumph, tribulation, and the perseverance to see both of them through.

In this present case it’s my flesh and bone (but of course it engages all parts of my being) that I’m working against as I’m tempted at every turn to eat something yummy. The larger goal though is to keep up the pace of what I’ve created after losing nearly 30 pounds and it requires that I maintain a serious practice and intentionality around my efforts. I cannot become lazy and cannot take for granted what I’ve accomplished historically and assume that it’ll carry me all the way.

Great leaders and people who get shit done are constantly engaging in mortification-like practices who are looking to improve every aspect of their personal and professional lives. Nothing is off the table as everything can and should be tested.

But it always starts with you.