John Daly, the Fatigue Factor, Leadership, and You

  |   Leadership Print Friendly and PDF

This Sunday, professional golfers will compete for the PGA Championship in Bethpage, Long Island. Over 100 of them will walk the course. One, John Daly, will ride in a cart. PGA officials gave Daly an exemption from the walking rule because he has an arthritic knee. They also, perhaps unwittingly, gave him a competitive advantage.

Vince Lombardi said that fatigue makes cowards of us all. That’s right, but there’s more. When we’re tired, our discipline goes. Decision-making gets worse. It’s the fatigue factor. And it’s real.

When John Daly rides in his cart he won’t get as tired as others who must walk the course. Fatigue won’t affect his decision making or his ability to concentrate.

If you’re a leader, you’re responsible for your own performance and the performance of a group. The fatigue factor can hit you hard. Here are six ways to fight back.

Get Enough Sleep

This one should be a no-brainer. If your performance gets worse when you’re tired, get enough sleep and you won’t get tired as much.


When you’re fit, it’s easier to handle the workload. Good cardio fitness means that your brain gets more oxygen. You make better decisions and handle stress better when you’re fit.

Most people don’t consider chess players as athletes. Garry Kasparov puts it this way. “Chess seems to be a very passive and quiet game where people are sitting for hours, just moving pieces across a board, and nothing is happening.”

Even so, Kasparov thinks there’s as much pressure on a chess player as there is on “any professional athlete.” That’s why he maintains a strict regimen of gym workouts, swimming, and rowing. If you need to be fit to play your best chess, how fit must you be to lead a team?


What you eat can hurt you or help you. If you eat a lighter lunch, you’ll have a more energetic afternoon. Skip the pastries on your break and go for fruit.

The folks at Harvard Health tell you to “eat small, frequent meals” and “smaller is better, especially at lunch.” The people at EveryDay Health list 10 foods that make good snacks.


We just aren’t made to work straight through without a break. We’re more productive when we alternate effort and recovery. Take breaks. Most people need one after about 50 minutes of concentrated work. Figure out what works for you. In his book, When, Daniel Pink offers these guiding principles for good breaks.

  • Something beats nothing
  • Moving beats stationary
  • Social beats solo
  • Outside beats inside
  • Fully detached beats semi-detached

Make Important and Difficult Decisions Early

One way to defeat fatigue is to make difficult and important decisions before you get tired. That means early in your day.

Reduce the Number of Decisions You Must Make

Don’t waste your precious energy on making decisions over and over and over if you can make them once. Make routine things routine. Use checklists, reminders, and processes to do things effectively without having to decide how to do them every time.

Bottom Line

Fatigue makes less-effective leaders of us all. Beat it with sleep, diet, and exercise. Take breaks. Make important and difficult decisions early in your day. Reduce the number of decisions by doing routine things routinely.


The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal by Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz

When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing by Daniel Pink

Join The Conversation

What People Are Saying

Hamilton Lindley   |   18 May 2019   |   Reply

Thanks, Wally. These are a great way to master my day. Controlling energy is something that I often have on autopilot. So being intentional about it will hopefully lead to better results.

Wally Bock   |   19 May 2019   |   Reply

Thanks for adding to the conversation. If that tip on managing energy resonated, read The Power of Full Engagement.. That’s what the book is about.