Success in our dynamic world of the trades isn't merely about keeping pace with new technologies or regulatory changes; it's about cultivating mental clarity, focus and creative problem-solving skills to navigate uncertain waters. A productive and positive state of mind and being is more important than ever.

Over the last several years, I have committed to self-care rituals that I used to think were crazy, or "out there," practiced only by yogis wearing Birkenstocks on top of a mountain somewhere. As much as these strategies have helped me, my team and countless Blue Collar Success Group members, I wanted to share some insights this month with you. Keep an open mind and see what resonates with you, even if it stretches you out of your comfort zone a little bit.

To begin, let's explore some of my everyday practices, from mindfulness meditation to journaling that can help you enhance your leadership skills, stay ahead of the curve and take your business to new heights. Yes, your self-care and your business effectiveness are directly related.

Harnessing the power of mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is more than a fad — it's a proven method to reduce stress and enhance focus, two essential attributes for plumbing contracting leaders. By setting aside as little as 10 to 15 minutes each day to meditate, you create a quiet space where the constant chatter of the mind subsides, allowing clarity and tranquility to arise. Don't overthink this or try to be perfect. Just find a comfortable place, choose a YouTube video or preferred app, or even go to my podcast, “Leadership In a Nutshell” (on two episodes, I offered guided meditation sessions).

During meditation, you observe your thoughts without judgment, which helps you become more aware of your thought patterns, both positive and negative. This heightened awareness allows you to steer your thoughts constructively, benefiting your problem-solving and decision-making skills. Moreover, meditation nurtures emotional intelligence, which is invaluable when leading a team or negotiating with clients.

Embracing the energizing benefits of exercise

It's easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of managing a trade-specific contracting business, overlooking physical health. However, regular movement and exercise are powerful tools for stress management and cognitive enhancement. It pumps blood to the brain, improving memory, thinking skills and mood. This doesn't mean you must start training for a marathon; a simple 30-minute walk each day or a few short exercise breaks can do wonders.

For leaders like you and me, visualizing the successful execution of a project, resolving a complicated issue, or achieving a business goal can solidify a positive mindset.

As business leaders, we often face complex challenges that require innovative solutions. Regular exercise primes our brains to be more receptive to these innovative solutions by improving our overall mood and energy levels. It cultivates resilience and increases mental stamina, helping us remain focused and productive during the most challenging times. Start slow and easy, and just be conscious of moving your body more than you currently are. Simple acts of taking the stairs will begin to elevate your awareness and focus on moving your body.

Nature: an underrated catalyst for creativity

When it comes to stimulating creativity, nature is one of our most potent allies. Numerous studies have highlighted the benefits of spending time outdoors, including improved mood, focus and cognitive function. Nature walks can break the monotony of the office, giving your mind the change of scenery it needs to rejuvenate.

Whether you take a stroll in a local park or plan a hiking trip over the weekend, nature offers an escape from the digital world, reducing mental fatigue. The calming impact of green spaces, or the desert where I live in Arizona, can spur reflection and trigger the flow of new ideas. In these moments of tranquility, solutions to stubborn problems can appear, or novel ideas might take shape.

Creative visualization: shaping your future success

The power of the mind to influence reality is well-documented. The practice of creative visualization involves picturing positive outcomes, situations or goals in your mind. This can be an effective tool for accessing untapped creative potential and boosting self-confidence. Please don't just discount this strategy as "not being for you."

For leaders like you and me, visualizing the successful execution of a project, resolving a complicated issue, or achieving a business goal can solidify a positive mindset. The process of visualizing these positive scenarios stimulates the subconscious mind, enabling it to generate innovative solutions. It's a practice used by top athletes, entrepreneurs and leaders worldwide to gain a mental edge. Isn't it time you gave this proven strategy a shot?

Deep breathing: an instant stress-reliever

Deep, intentional breathing is perhaps the most straightforward mindfulness practice to incorporate into your daily routine. By taking a few moments each day to focus on your breath, you can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. This practice offers an immediate sense of calm, providing a break from the fast-paced rhythm of running an intense business with a ton of moving parts and people.

Deep breathing activates the body's relaxation response, slowing the heart rate and lowering blood pressure, allowing for clearer thinking and better decision-making. It's a tool at your disposal whenever you need to find calm amidst the chaos. Try it right now. Just take a slow deep breath for a count of five, hold it for a count or two, and allow a slow, long, controlled exhale. You feel better, don't you?

Journaling: reflection and innovation on paper

The practice of writing down your thoughts, emotions and ideas can be transformative. Journaling provides a non-judgmental space to explore thoughts, fears, aspirations and experiences. It aids in organizing thoughts, making sense of emotions, and reducing stress by putting problems into perspective.

Maintaining a journal could mean capturing creative ideas as they arise, documenting feedback and reflections on completed projects, or expressing the challenges and successes of running your business. Over time, these entries can offer valuable insights into your creative process and progress, leading to more innovative thinking.

The importance of mental clarity, creativity and resilience in the dynamic world of contracting cannot be understated. Incorporating these mindful practices can help you navigate your business's challenges more effectively and shape its future with creativity and strategic foresight. So, set aside some time each day for these practices — you'll be surprised by the clarity and productivity they can bring to your leadership journey.