How Target’s CEO gives his ‘very best’ every day: I sleep and eat like I’m ‘playing in the U.S. Open or Super Bowl’
The CEO said he used to fall victim to some pretty common harmful habits: going about your day with little sleep, drinking coffee for meals and not leaving any time for post-work exercise or relaxation.
The program taught Cornell that he had to eat full, nutritious meals, incorporate some sort of exercise into the day, and get the right amount of sleep, typically eight hours — all of which is normal for many professional athletes.
If you’re staying up at 4 a.m. to study for a test or skipping meals to prepare for a presentation at work, you’re doing it all wrong, according to Target CEO and chairman Brian Cornell .Instead, take his approach to performing the “very best” every day : Sleep and eat “just like you would if you’re playing in the U.S. Open or the Super Bowl.””It’s the night before the game. I’m going to get a good meal. I’m going to rest. I’m going to show up at my very best,” Cornell said on a recent episode of the “How Leaders Lead with David Novak ” podcast, hosted by Yum Brands executive chairman David Novak . Cornell , 64, has helmed Target since 2014, leading the retailer through a rapid expansion of e-commerce over the past decade and, more recently, the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, Target’s annual revenue reached $106 billion, a rise of more than 35% over the past two years.The CEO said he used to fall victim to some pretty common harmful habits: going about your day with little sleep, drinking coffee for meals and not leaving any time for post-work exercise or relaxation.Workplaces can easily create a culture where those unhealthy habits feel perfectly normal, Cornell explained. But they’re detrimental to your long-term health, and can hurt the quality of your work: One 2016 study from researchers at Hult International Business School found that sleep loss among workers negatively impacts decision-making, creativity, processing, adaptability and can lead to other damaging physical and emotional side effects.
“They’re fatigued, they’re exhausted, they haven’t eaten and you can’t expect them to deliver their best,” Cornell said.
Cornell eventually found that approaching each day like he was about to participate in a major sporting event helped him “rewire” his approached to work-life balance, he said. He learned it from a program called the Human Performance Institute, which worked with professional athletes before transitioning to working with executives, he added.The program taught Cornell that he had to eat full, nutritious meals, incorporate some sort of exercise into the day , and get the right amount of sleep, typically eight hours — all of which is normal for many professional athletes .Doing so helps Cornell maximize his energy every day , he said. Anyone can make that change to their lives, regardless of whether they’re a high-ranking executive, a mid-level employee or even a student, he added.”I really try to balance the importance of my energy and try to make sure I never had a bad day ,” Cornell said. “But to do that, I’ve got to get the right amount of sleep, eat well and exercise.”
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