by Timothy E. McGee
In a recent television interview with US President Barack Obama, the interviewer ended by saying, “I love watching you work.” The interviewer was impressed with Obama’s seemingly limitless energy to speak directly to the American people, indeed the world, on critical issues of the day and to do so in a calm, disciplined manner. In short, he was making a very tough job look deceptively easy.
What can we learn from how the President works?
From my perspective, I think Obama’s insistence on regular exercise as part of his daily routine is an important part of how he makes it look so easy. Despite the fact that he is probably the busiest man in the world, President Obama exercises an hour a day. His close friends say it’s how he relieves stress, maintains a routine and thinks without interruption. He doesn’t let his minute-by-minute appointment calendar — or election victories — get in the way. The morning after his victory rally in Grant Park and a few hours before travelling to Washington for his first tour of the White House, Obama was at the gym, recharging his batteries. Perhaps most importantly in my view, his close associates say his exercise routine makes him happy — and who doesn’t work better when they are happy?
A recent Statistics Canada report reveals that while physical activity among Canadians is up moderately in the past 10 years, almost half of adult Canadians were classified as “inactive” during their leisure time. Almost a quarter of Canadians surveyed reported they usually sat for most of the day.
As a profession, lawyers are notoriously hard workers. The demands of ensuring clients are well served often leads to long working hours with little time for anything else. And, of course, there are many in our profession who successfully meet the demands of their clients without exercising regularly. But in addition to taking care of our clients and our work, we all need to take care of ourselves. A friend and senior member of the bar recently told me how he battled back from a near fatal affliction that hit him out of the blue. Today, he is busier than ever with a very successful practice. But he is also happy and highly motivated. He reminded me that what has helped him the most was the satisfaction he derives from his exercise routine. And for that, I can say that I like watching him work.
I recognize that this approach might not resonate with everyone. But if you are inclined to exercise and think you’re too busy or don’t have the time, I invite you to think of the President and, whatever your politics, consider how your work, your health and your happiness, might benefit from lacing up those runners.