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Nick Cannon’s Health Scare

Nick Cannon was great. Until he wasn’t.

Over the past 10 years, Cannon has achieved one of the most coveted forms of success: multi-hyphenate. He hit the big time as a stand-up comedian, rap artist, founder of his own record label, radio personality, TV host and creative consultant for Nickelodeon. That’s some crazy diversification. From the beginning, he understood how to leverage talent and business sense into multiple ventures—so the sum of his successes is greater than the parts. (He’s also Mariah Carey’s husband, which doesn’t hurt, either.)

But in January 2012, everything changed. He was hospitalized for kidney failure and an enlarged heart. And the next month, he was hospitalized again for blood clots in his lungs. What could be happening with this motivated, energetic guy in his early 30s? He was soon diagnosed with a rare form of lupus called lupus nephritis, an autoimmune disease.

Now that Cannon knows what the problem is, he says he has been treated, gone back to work and feels terrific. He’s had to make major lifestyle changes, though. Cannon has to sleep at least six hours a night; he claims he used to sleep only two or three. He had to drop one gig, the morning radio show in New York City. And fast food is now off his personal menu. “No Happy Meals,” he told Robin Roberts on Good Morning America. “I’m sad.”

His experience brings to light something that motivated, career-oriented people usually forget or take for granted: health. If you can’t take care of yourself, your career will suffer.

The facts: A person who exercises regularly has more energy and physical capacity than someone who doesn’t. A person who eats intelligently, stays hydrated, and avoids too much caffeine, too much booze or too much of anything will feel better in the late hours of the workday than someone who doesn’t.

Now imagine you have less energy. Imagine you feel lousy during the day. Then you’re diagnosed with a major health problem. Someone who is in good physical shape will be easier to treat and stronger in recovery than someone who is overweight and under-conditioned.

Except for sleeping and eating habits, Cannon was in strong physical condition when illness smacked him down. But his overall good health factored into his body’s ability to bounce back during treatment, and his improved habits will help him going forward.

Imagine, however, if he’d been 50 to 70 pounds overweight. This is a subject people often avoid. But a few simple changes—regular exercise, better diet, all the things you’ve heard a zillion times before—will support greater successes.

Until then, take note of another bit of Cannon’s ammunition: A positive attitude in the face of adversity. “Hurdles are made to jump over,” he says.

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