Ten years ago when I was 38 years old my doctor gave me a choice. To start medication to control my cholesterol and blood pressure or to start exercising.
I hadn’t properly exercised in years. Life had got in the way. I had a young family, a recent promotion to Managing Director within Accenture and I always felt too busy.
But I made the decision that day to start running. I committed to 30 mins every other day until it became a habit. It was hard at first and tough to get going. But I was determined and when I returned to my doctor three months later - I no longer needed medication.
From that day on I stuck to what I called the 4-4-30 rule: 4 miles, 4 times a week in under 30 minutes. And it was a turning point in my life. Not just because I’m 20kg lighter now than I was then, but because it helped me get my whole work-life balance in check.
I thought to myself, if I can’t find one hour in my day to go for a run, what is going on in my life?
And that is a question we encourage everyone to ask themselves here at Accenture: Am I taking ownership of my health and wellbeing and am I empowered to do so?
I believe it’s one of the most important jobs of our leaders today and something we strive for here at Accenture. To help people understand the choices that they can and should be making to take care of themselves. We really want to empower and encourage people to talk if they feel demands or expectations are too high. Especially younger people growing up in an organisation who want to succeed and often put all kinds of pressure and demands on themselves.
I’ve been with Accenture for nearly 25 years and early on in my career I had the benefit of having leaders and peers who coached and mentored me to make that time for myself. I remember very distinctly one of my mentors when I was in my early 30s said to me: “Just remember the work will keep coming and it’s up to you to make the choices about taking your time away.”
And he was right – the work and challenges have kept coming. We live in a 24/7 connected world and it’s easy to suffer burnout – especially in a demanding field such as consulting.
But if you’re managing yourself physically and mentally you’re more resilient.
This means not just taking time out to exercise but also seeking clarity around expectations of your role, how you’re developing, how you’re connecting and that your interests aligns with what you’re working on.
A big cultural transformation is happening across Accenture as we create our ‘new normal, combining our efforts in truly human, performance achievement, and building our leadership DNA; a key element of this is about engaging and providing people with tools and insights to get to know themselves better. We then combine that with having meaningful conversations. That is teaching and giving our people support on how to get back to being human with one another in a digital age. Talking with each other about their work and professional environment in both constructive and positive mindsets as well as talking about the things they need to change.
I believe that ethos of staying “truly human”, having meaningful conversations and being empowered to take care of yourself are some of the many reasons Accenture was named as one of LinkedIn’s Top Places to work. And also some of a reasons why I’m still here after 25 years.
I turned my life around 10 years ago with my 4-4-30 rule. Although it was a health-related thing at the time, it helped me in so many ways and hopefully now I’m a role model as a senior leader who is making that time for himself.
As I suddenly realise that I am moving into the later stages of my career these are the important things that will keep me motivated and engaged. I’m staring down at turning 50 - but they say 50 is the new 30 so I’m excited.