Sustenance by Dr. Robert Gerwig

It had rained, off and on, for 3 days.  The ground was soaked. There was standing water in some parts of the garden. The humidity was high, still near 100%. Everywhere you looked there were evidences of the rain. The leaves on the trees were heavy and dripping with water. The road in front of our house glistened and reflected the dark clouds above.

My morning “quiet time” on the front porch was indeed quiet. A cup of coffee, my Bible and the intermittent rain. School was not yet in session and since it was a Saturday, the morning “commute” was pretty much non-existent. There were a few runners braving the elements. Focused individuals driving to run in the rain by something I don’t fully appreciate. Diving in the rain. Mountain biking in the rain. Fly-fishing in the rain. These things I understand. Running in the rain? Well that’s a mystery.

As I stood up (to head into the kitchen and get a coffee refill), I noticed a large leaf right by the front steps full of water droplets. Very cool. Very eye-catching. I got a new cup of coffee and my camera. The picture above is one of several I took that morning. None are perfect, yet all, including this one, give a sense of rain, a sense of water, a sense of life.

You see, water is life. You already know this. … One, if not the biggest, issue facing many third world countries is access to clean drinking water. People can live longer without food than they can water. The world is mostly covered in water and yet future wars, according to many, will be fought over access to clean, fresh water.

What’s the point? The point is that water sustains life. People and plant. First world and third. Without water there is death. There is a parallel in the behavioral world. People, organization, families, followers and leaders need sustenance. You need energy. You need water. Without it, your leadership will be dead. Your works will be dead. Your actions and your relationship will be dead.

What I mean is that you need to stay motivated. You need to stay focused. You need to be in the game. To be in the zone. You can’t love people without “water.” You can’t perform well in school or at work if you’re not hydrated. You can’t perform or be your best without sustenance (without “water”).

The question, the application, of this article is for to realized that you need “water” if you’re a leader (and even if you’re not a leader). You need to eat right. Sleep well. Keep your mind sharp and engaged. You need to exercise. You need to avoid surrounding yourself with negative people who complain about everything.

Athletes, business professionals, university professors, politicians, military officers, stay-at-home parents and everyone in-between need certain about of “water” to keep fighting in this world, in whatever arena you find yourself. You need to find people and ways to keep yourself motivated. Most likely, you’ll find it’s a combination of small rewards and large rewards. These rewards can come from yourself or from others. From family or co-workers. Reward (reinforce) good behaviors and good results. Celebrate both. If you can find an encourager, love ‘em. Keep ‘em near. There are few encouragers and if you’re fortunate to find one (or more!) consider yourself fortunate. Reinforce their encouragement. Tell ‘em how much they mean to you. Take ‘em to lunch. You get the idea. Don’t let an encourager escape. Keep ‘em near and love ‘em. … If possible, become an encourager to others (never falsehoods or mere flattery, true encouragement).

The list of rewards you (or others) can enjoy is endless. It’s really based on personal preferences but there are MANY rewards that seem to be nearly universal (for example, a sincere “thank you”). … My “water” includes many things including, a good cup of coffee, a conversation with a friend, a back rub, a nice meal, diving, a good book, verbal praise (that is sincere, specific, immediate & personal), smelling a nice old English rose, a hug, one on one time with my wife or kids, etc. You get the idea.

To keep ourselves motivated and pumped up in a challenging world, we all need “water.” Sometimes we have to provide our own. Sometimes we’re blessed to have someone bring us a cup. Whatever you do, make sure to hydrate. Without water, your efforts and results will not count for much. You’ll lack impact. You’ll bring others down. You’ll lack energy. You will not see a good return on your actions. Drink water and hydrate. Make sure you have the sustenance to run the good race.

What ways do you sustain yourself? The organization? Your family? Your church? Your community?

As always, the floor is open to your comments, suggestions, thoughts, and feedback.

Dr. is an agent of change and is able to balance the needs of the business and the needs of people. Dr. Gerwig believes and practices the values of performance and delivery of business metrics while simultaneously developing and growing people into leaders. You can contact him at RobertGerwig[at]


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