Is That a Mobility Scooter in Your Driveway?
“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
“Our growing softness, our increasing lack of physical fitness, is a menace to our security.”
John F. Kennedy
A few years ago, one of my good friends was in Paris on business while we were there on holiday. She was staying at the Ritz-Carlton and posted a picture with a tray of macaroons and the note, “How do these Parisian women stay so slim while eating these treats?” I posted a note, “By walking 10 miles-a-day and smoking a pack of cigarettes.”
When we came home, one of our neighbors was getting into her Escalade. We greeted each other and then she told me was had to get to the grocery store. It is one block away.
In the time President Kennedy made his comments, the average American gained 24-31 pounds. We built roads, progressed from owning 60 to 190 million cars. Today, the average American spends 2 months watching Television nonstop per year. In 1988, BMW launched an advertising campaign for it’s first 3-series convertible. Billboards across the country pictured the car with the words, “Better than Prozac.” Today, a bit over 1 in 10 Americans are on antidepressants.
Mental health and optimism is directly tied to our physical fitness. My friend and colleague Julie Lafond ran Jane Fonda’s fitness company for many years. She repeatedly tells people that modern human beings require physical activity to keep their sanity. We are not designed to sit in front of our screen and to be stuck in our heads 24-hours-a-day. Physical activity is the one the one thing that gives our brains a break.
Human beings can believe anything. Famed psychiatrist Sylvano Arieti once said, “The world’s mental institutions are filled with creative thinkers.” His statement illuminates the trap so many of our citizen’s well-being have fallen into the wrong hands. We watch Television, eat snacks, and think about changing our behavior. Much of the food that we eat was scientifically engineered to produce addiction. The media industry spends hundreds of millions to come up with addictive programming. For example, shortly after its acquisition of Time Warner, AT & T executive John Stankey called a town hall meeting with HBO’s management. The theme wasn’t about increasing the legendary quality of HBO’s content, it was about increasing screen time with the communication company’s smartphone customers. This new mission was presented to many of the most prodigious creative leaders drawn to HBO because of mission to exceed the quality of all industry norms.
Collectively, America’s thinking on fitness is in a perfect storm. When we substitute quality for addiction, the consequences on all of us is monumental. This trend has special impact on careers, employment, and business ownership. Is this message overreaching? Nope. We are facing the most monumental restructuring of work in our history. None of us can afford to sit idly by as accelerating change impacts all of us.
Our mission at Inspired Work has been to introduce positive change to professionals in such a short period of time, they are no longer trying to cope with change because they’ve realized the most important contemporary need, which is to fluidly change us. How can we possibly surf the waves of change if we haven’t yet learned how to swim?
Right now, we need all of the energy we can get!
In my recent book, The Workplace Engagement Solution (Career Press), I’ve pointed out that in a world where only 13% of the world’s are engaged, we are in a losing battle using the one-dimensional approach of recruiting engagement. Building the muscle of self-change is the single most important aspect in being fit in the future of work. Encouraging exercise and fitness is a great contribution to the cause. Building the skills of connectivity with others is even more critical.
Michelle Seidel has had a long track-record developing successful human capital strategies for the clients of Willis Towers Watson. Large house consulting almost always includes long hours, travel, and unforgiving deliverables. In that setting, Michelle had a life changing awakening.
“In the first few years after joining Towers Watson, I took a rather traditional approach to success by making personal sacrifices, including sacrificing my fitness. My days were consumed by long hours at work and my need for sleep. I excelled professionally. In hindsight, I would have been even more successful had I maintained my fitness. My self-esteem plummeted and I lost the energy to have a full, balanced life.”
The turning point:
“After hitting a low point, I trained for my first triathlon at forty. I loved it so much that I competed in seven triathlons in that first year and have completed twelve to date.”
“I have fallen in love with feeling strong. Physical strength has given me an incredible sense of confidence and well-being. As a result of being fit, I get more done in a shorter period of time, I am a more effective spouse, colleague and mentor. I am more grounded, enthusiastic and happy. These are all characteristics we look for in the best team members.
Her point of view with employers:
“At Towers Watson, we work with large employers. Every employer I am aware has an established or growing wellness program. In the last fifty years, we took so many steps backward. Today, we are facing healthcare reforms that literally force the issue of creating a stronger and healthier workforce. For example, in the more traditional organizations we find exercise and wellness incentive programs. In tech-savvy organizations software and “apps” are being used that are transforming how we measure and encourage the well-being of an organization and an individual.”
For those of you who would like to develop greater fitness in your lives or organizations, take a few minutes to write two definitions:
1 If you want to become healthier, more fit, and more aware, what would that look like?
2 If you are removing too much value in your life to screentime, TV, Internet usage, sugar, and other non-productive activities, what do you most want to change?
3 If you want to improve the health and vitality of your workplace, where would you begin?
I am delighted to receive comments or to have a discussion with anyone who wants a better work life – regardless of whether it is on a personal or collective level.
Schedule 15-Minutes to Discuss Your Workplace or Career with David (Here)
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