Do This Every Day to Combat Drift

Business Coaching

I don’t know a single leader who made a conscious decision to get 30 pounds overweight.

I also don’t know a leader who got married with the intention of one day getting a divorce.

I’ve also never met a leader who woke up and said, “Today, I’m going to compromise some of my core convictions.”

But over time, leaders get physically soft; they let their relationships become distant and they do things in private they once denounced in public. So, how do these things happen to leaders over and over again?

Leaders drift.

One of the greatest dangers to every leader is drifting.

Let me illustrate, if you are walking down the block from your home to a neighbor’s and you drift by one degree, you won’t even notice. But if you are traveling from San Francisco to Los Angeles and you drift by just one degree you will miss your destination by six miles! And if you are trying to get from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. and you drift off course by a single degree you will end up on the other side of Baltimore, 42.6 miles off course. When leaders drift relationally, physically, mentally, it takes them to places they never intended to be.

To prevent drifting, I have developed a simple 5-minute exercise I call “Checking Your RPM.” I’m sharing this with you to help you lead yourself and never drift. At the beginning of my day, at the top of my journal I write the following four letters: R P M S.

  • R is for relational.
  • P is for physical.
  • M is for mental.

Underneath each of these four letters (R P M ) I rate myself by writing a number on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is bad, 5 is average, 10 is great. It’s not scientific, but by reflecting every day on these four crucial components of a leader’s life, it keeps me from drifting.


Let me give you a few R P M questions to ask in your own daily self-evaluation


Our relational world typically includes the people with whom we interact on a regular basis: our immediate family, friends, neighbors, coworkers and small group members.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you evaluate:

  • How are my relationships at home?
  • What about my marriage, dating or family life is going well? What’s not going so well? What would I like to change?
  • Who do I consider my closest friend?
  • What are my relationships like at work?
  • Which of my relationships give me energy and life? Which are the most challenging or draining?



Our physical well-being is often the most overlooked aspect of a leader’s life. Yet diet, exercise, sleep and rest are all vital to our ability to lead effectively. If we are serious about developing as a whole person, we have to take seriously our physical well-being.

Here are some good questions to ask:

  • Am I getting enough rest?
  • How is my current energy level?
  • What am I doing to maintain good health when it comes to exercise and eating habits?
  • Is there anything about my physical health that I’d like to change?



Another often-overlooked aspect is the development of our minds. In order for us to stay sharp and be lifelong learners, we need to be challenged.

Here are some questions we can ask to see if we are developing mentally:

  • What have I been learning lately?
  • How am I applying what I am learning?
  • What magazines, books do I need to read or what podcasts should I listen to?
  • What thoughts have been dominating my mind? Are they drawing me closer to my Goals? Are they pulling me away from it?


    The longer I am in leadership, the more I am convinced that the most important leadership we can offer is self-leadership. We have to be intentional about not drifting.

    Use this tool every day and lead yourself!


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Dave Ferguson