You Are What You Eat

JoAnna Bennett

JoAnna Bennett, O’Brien Communications Group

21 March 2019

Our brains are hungrier than our stomachs. Every smell, sight, experience, and thought we encounter feeds our brains on a consistent and daily basis. What we experience becomes our reality, fuels our minds, and shapes the way we think and what we think about in the future. If you read the works of Jung or Freud, you might be aware you’re reading a century-old piece of text. But if it conforms to your experience, you accept its reality, incorporate it into your thought processes, and apply it to your world.

Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase or of the book, Leaders Eat Last. The phrase is supposed to describe a principle of a good leader. Theoretically, if you eat last, figuratively or literally, you can be a good leader, too. My main concern is with this logic is the type of brain that could absorb that information with potentially unintended results.

Case in point: If I interpret that phrase literally enough to mean if I don’t grab the last slice of pizza at the company luncheon I’ll be a better leader, I’ll be misguided, if not disastrously wrong. If my experience has led me to be otherwise self-absorbed, leaving that slice for someone else won’t change my brain. If my reality compels me to waste time in meetings pontificating to my team, foregoing a slice of pizza won’t make me quiet and capable of respectful, constructive listening.


What is your brain consuming?

In much the same way that our diets have a correlation with our health, our environments and our experiences have a correlation with our realities, with our mentalities in given situations. So, instead of scrolling through your Facebook timeline for the fourteenth time today, perhaps reading a book or calling an old friend would be more nourishing. If we fill our time with obligations and entertainments alone, we leave out time for personal reflection and growth. When we avoid the uncomfortable changes that come with self-awareness, we remain motionless.

I’m sure some great leaders eat last, while others eat first. One behavior will not define us. But what we feed our brains will.

As they say in the IT world, “Garbage In, Garbage Out.”