A few years ago my husband Bill and I purchased Fitbits. We both set an intention of walking 10,000 steps each day assuming it would improve our health.
For me, it was an idea to consider and it would help to enhance my overall fitness level. To Bill, it was a life commitment which he took very seriously. If the clock struck 9:00 pm and Bill had not achieved the 10,000 steps goal, he went outside in suffocating heat or snow and ice and took a walk. On days when my calendar looked hectic, if I thought I might fall short of the goal, I handed my Fitbit to our daughter Katie and asked her if she would “just bring it along” as she trained with her cross country team.
When Katie wasn’t available, as a last ditch effort, I took out a brownie mix and started stirring. Do you know how many “steps” are recorded when mixing brownies?
Seeing the absurdity in our different approaches, Katie used the content for an English assignment: Deliver a 3 Minute Humorous Speech. Katie spoke on“Does Fitbit cause divorce?”
What I have noticed is that the “Fitbit Principle” extends to our work and to our organizations. What we track and measure improves. It’s so basic!
In our work at Concordia, we are often approached to solve people problems. While many in the organization can cite the problems and the negative impact on the company, we are often asked to start immediately. It’s great when we have data to start with!
And now we do!
One of our government clients hired us to do a change management project. Our task was to improve the scores on the Employee Viewpoint Survey. We designed a comprehensive program that built upon the work that had already been performed. We started with focus groups. Next we conducted leadership visioning, leadership training, employee training, and coaching meetings.
The results were astonishing. Across all indicators but one, there was improvement. With the one that didn’t improve, it held steady.
Interestingly, the Fitbit has been a tool that has improved my husband Bill’s and my fitness levels. Also, we didn’t start at the same level, so we have different data points. In both cases there was an increase and consistent improvement.
If you want to improve your workplace, begin with a benchmark. Conduct surveys and focus groups, and obtain data — then follow with a strategic plan. I am curious: What do you have in place to track and measure your goals – both personal and professional?
In my work, I hear it a lot…
“I’m 40 years old, I’m not going to reinvent myself now.”
And then there’s…
“I am going to retire in a few years, so let the new kids learn that stuff.”
And what about…
“My father died when I was six,” or “My wife had an affair and left me as a single dad with three kids,” or any number of other comments followed by: “This is just the way I am.”
Translation: “It’s the way I am, and it’s the way I am going to stay!”
Other times, I hear employees say it about their peers. “She’s too stuck in her ways to change,” or “He’s at the end of his career, so why would he change now?”
I have to admit, whenever I hear these types of excuses, my reaction is one of sadness.
I think of the head of oncology who operated on my brother. At the end of a full day of surgery, my brother was pronounced cancer-free and given more years of life — hopefully many more years. But, what if that oncologist had said, “He has pancreatic cancer. Few people survive. Why bother?” How did he know that my brother had a chance to live a longer life? He didn’t. He just never gave up.
I suspect the oncologist operates often and has many failures.
But what about the successes? What do the successes and failures have in common?
We can be relatively certain that without intervention, the cancer patient will die.
Without intervention, we can be relatively certain that those saying change isn’t possible will be right.
It is true that we cannot change others. However, we can ask them, “Is this the way you want to stay?” “Is your current behavior helping or hurting you?” “Is your current behavior contributing to the situation in a positive or negative way?”
In our role as change agents, we must constantly ask how can we improve ourselves? How can we help others to improve? We cannot give up on the human potential to change and grow.
Hold onto hope, and don’t stop asking deep, provocative questions. Let me know about the people in your life whom you have seen grow and develop. I love success stories.
Remember that old saying “You Are What You Eat”?
I do. I remember posters in the school cafeteria, ads in magazines, and a lot of chortled high-school jokes, most of them in good fun.
“Don’t be a grouch. What’d you eat for breakfast, anyway — prickly pears?”
We got the message.
My colleagues in the National Speakers Association put a different twist on this concept. Ron says, “You are what you do, not what you talk about doing.” Chris says, “Talking about writing isn’t writing. Writing is writing.”
I get those messages, too. So much so that I have a saying posted in my house that says, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.”
When I hear people talk about taking a class, or learning to knit, or improving their professional skills, I think it’s great! They have made a proclamation. What is even better is when they take their first real step.
Three weeks ago a client told me that he wants his department to work more collaboratively. He told me that they work in silos, each doing their own thing. I asked him, “What’s your plan?” He chuckled and said, “My plan was to call you and have YOU figure it out.”
Recently, my friend told me that she intends to run a marathon in May. Even though she is currently running just a few miles a day, taking the first steps (literally) builds momentum. When she showed me her running plan, I believed she would do it. More importantly, she believes she will do it. And regardless of when or if this marathon occurs, she is getting more fit and more determined each day.
Let me invite you to consider, whether your goal is an individual goal or a group goal, whether you set your own milestones or work with a partner, that you are what you act on. You are what you eat. Your intentions aren’t you, your actions are you.
I am thrilled that someone I coach is starting a new business. He’s been talking about it for years. Recently he put together a business plan and he opened a business checking account. He is diligently working on a website. How fabulous!
Our lives aren’t happening somewhere else, or at some other time. We aren’t the people we are going to become — we’re the people we currently are. Living in the present means doing what we believe in, now. Let me know what goals you are living.