Your Commitment to Health

We’ve reached the end of another month.  I’ve learned a lot about myself this month, some of which related to our topic of health, some about life and relationships.  But then, every month should have lessons in it, especially lessons we can learn from and grow through.  On Friday I shared one reason why it’s important to be healthy: so we can have fun.  Today I wanted to finish up the month with a continuation of this thought inspired by wisdom from Herophilus, a Greek physician who lived around 300 BC:

“When health is absent, wisdom cannot reveal itself, art cannot manifest, strength cannot fight, wealth becomes useless, and intelligence cannot be applied.”

So basically, without health you’re far behind the proverbial 8 ball.  You won’t succeed, you won’t be happy, you won’t be creative, you won’t feel a zest for life, you won’t be inspired, you won’t be motivated, you won’t be smart, the list goes on.  So the question has to be asked, why are we so willing to screw with and risk our health if the results can be so damaging?  I’m sure for some of us we forget how good it used to be when we were healthy, and all we remember is how not good it is now, which leaves us with little motivation to change, unless it’s really bad.  Some of us just can’t get back to how good it used to be because we keep getting interrupted by life.  And others of us choose not to change, despite having some reason and opportunity to do so.

We may never be as fit as the stars we see on pro sports teams and in the Olympics, but health like many other things is relative.  You don’t have to live the life of a pro-fitness person, you just have to be as fit as your body needs you to be.  I say that starts with eating healthy most of the time, limiting your time with people who aren’t good for you, and exercising in some shape or form every day, or most days each week.  As we finish out this year what will your commitment to health be?

The Reason for Health

Health is something we often consider a topic of very serious nature. It’s not a topic we really associate with laughs and play, but a big part of health is exactly that: having fun. As this month is heading to a very rapid close, I want to make sure we take time to talk about how health is more than just being sick or well, it’s about the reason we want to be well, so that we can enjoy every moment that life brings us. Yes, life includes hard work, it’s not all sunshine and roses, we have to work hard to stay well, to make the money to live and make tough decisions on things that are positive for our lives and those that are not. But what’s really the point of all the hard work if there’s no reward?

You may have heard about the restaurants that believe that food is about more than just the calories to nourish our bodies, so they’ve turned food into an art form that looks as good as it tastes and have transformed food and eating into a very pleasurable experience. No, there isn’t a reason that it has to be done this way, but when you see beyond the simple nature of food from sustenance to something that can define and inspire a culture, it becomes more than just a chore and another thing on the daily to-do list, it’s an opportunity to celebrate and enjoy life.

I believe that life has enough stressors and ups and downs in it, and we don’t need to add any more serious things to the list. Instead, I choose to see health as an opportunity to enjoy more of life. There’s a country song on the radio now by Frankie Ballard with the lyrics “I wanna sit out on the porch, Telling stories ’bout my glory days when I’m pushing eighty.  How am I ever gonna get to be old and wise, If I ain’t ever young and crazy?” which really is the truth for many aspects of life, including health. It’s not always easy doing the right thing when it comes to health, but the rewards are almost always greater than the costs or work.

So what fun are you going to have this weekend?

Lessons from Trump

This may be one of the only time you ever really hear me talk about it, but today I want to talk politics.  To be clear, I do vote but I don’t enjoy all this nasty back and forth they do up to the voting day or the ridiculous amount of money spent on politics that could be used much better elsewhere.  One person I’ve been following, naturally being a business owner, is Donald Trump.  What I want to talk about today was said well by a 65-year-old retired teacher in Michigan who drove an hour to see Donald Trump speak this month, on his candidacy (shared via NY Times), Jan Mannarino:

“Even if he doesn’t win, he’s teaching other politicians to stop being politicians. He comes on strong. He could say it gently. But I think no one would listen.”

Wow.  It’s a great lesson for politicians, and an important one for us business owners too.  Let’s take a look at some lessons presented by Donald Trump and this very smart retired teacher.

First, go ahead and break the mold.
Lessons from Trump: Trump knows exactly what is expected of people in politics, or what’s been the norm, he has to be if he’s considering being president.  However, Trump knows that the mold needs to be broken or at least changed a bit if we’re going to have any chance of fixing what’s broken or not working to its fullest potential in this great nation of ours. Beyond that, Trump knows that the mold won’t work for him.

Lessons for your business: The mold is great for someone, but that doesn’t mean it has to or even will work for your business.  You can learn how one business, Amazon for example, has been successful, but that doesn’t mean their techniques and tactics will work for you right now or ever.  Go ahead and see what their mold looks like, take some lessons from it, and then decide if it’s really feasible for you, your vision, your passions and your community.

Second: speak up and stand out.
Lessons from Trump: Trump is OK with leading the pack and standing out for being difference. It’s never easy to stand out as much as he does, but he seems to be comfortable and certainly unapologetic about it.  Whether he wins or not he’s certainly changed politics forever because it’s no longer possible to just quietly say what you think will get you the votes and spend the big bucks bashing your opponents.

Lessons for your business: if you really want to make an impact you have to get your voice heard.  That means doing the work to cultivate the relationships and partnerships, building trust little by little with potential customers, spending the money on the marketing and creation/implementation of your services.  If you want success you have to make a difference, and in order to do that you have to get the message to people that you have solutions and answers for them.

What lessons are you learning from this year’s political adventures for your business?

Are You Wasting Your Mind?

Your mind is one of the most powerful, complicated, confusing, frustrating, gifted aspects of you.  Even if your physical body isn’t as capable as it used to be your mind can be super sharp and able to make connections and make a difference in the world.  One of the most damaging conditions are Alzheimers and dementia because it slowly ravages you from the inside out in ways that cancer usually never touches.  Having been through the different stages of Alzheimers before and going through it again with a second grandmother it amazes me how her mind has turned her from a fun, capable human into a record becoming more broken with each story I hear.  It’s something I hope you never experience because they have no sense of what’s going on anymore and while even a kid can tell you what hurts or how they’re feeling when dealing with most diseases or conditions, there’s no way to get people with Alzheimers or dementia to communicate to you what’s going on, they don’t have the brain power anymore.  I’m thankful for all of the work that doctors and researchers are doing to help us understand these diseases, it’s some measure of peace that there are some answers or at least some test results that give some insights into something we have so much trouble understanding.

But in this month on health I don’t share this to dwell on all that can go wrong with our health but to remind you to celebrate and use it while you have it.  Life is such a gift; one that most of us accept as standard and just the way things are.  But when I see things from people like Stephen Hawkings or Sean Stephenson I’m reminded how powerful we are and what’s possible if we choose to make it happen.

Whether you’re in business for yourself, you have a job you love or hate, you’re a stay-at-home parent, you have kids or not, I hope you have big dreams and you’re determined to see some of them come to fruition.  I have to admit, I’ve gotten distracted from some of the dreams I have.  Life can get complicated and sometimes take things over and pull you away from your dreams for a time.  If that’s you too, know it’s OK. But it’s time that you take a step back and remember those dreams.

Dreams are powerful and not for the faint of heart. But dreams help bring a spark to our lives that would be missing otherwise.  I encourage you to unleash the power of your mind on your life and dreams this week.  Don’t be afraid to make some tough decisions about the direction your life is heading in to better align with your goals and dreams.

Forgiveness for Future Freedom

Forgiveness isn’t a topic to be taken lightly. Sure it’s easy to say the words and not mean them, but what good is that? Then you remain hurt and you hurt the other person or people as well. No, you can’t change the past or forget that it happened, but that’s not what forgiveness is about. Forgiveness is about seeing that what was done was wrong and enabling you (and the other person/people) to move on to the future. Maybe that future means changes, maybe it means counseling, maybe it means punishment for what was done wrong, but whatever the future holds, forgiveness is about choosing to move on to the future rather than staying stuck in the past.

Forgiveness is a healthy part of our world, a part that many people choose not to participate in. We all know it’s there, but sometimes we let our stubbornness and hurt feelings get in the way of what’s best for us. Forgiveness is like so many of the other healthy living topics we’re talking about this month: it’s a choice. Sometimes you don’t have a whole lot of control over your health and lifespan, like in situations of Chernobyl or the Titanic. But I would estimate that 75% of the time or more you do have a choice in your health and we don’t always make that choice.

It’s important to note that forgiveness isn’t saying that you agree to forget what the other person/people have done, forgiveness is recognizing and accepting what was done and the resulting consequences and choosing to move on anyway. Maybe that means you’ll move on together and work to resolve the issues, but maybe forgiveness means choosing to go your separate ways because that’s what’s best.

I encourage you to take time this weekend to consider if you’re withholding forgiveness from anyone or refusing to accept if from anyone and why that would be. Also consider what your life would be like if you chose to accept or offer that forgiveness.

Building Your Business Beyond the Fears

Today I want to talk about a very important topic: fear. We all get scared from time to time, whether it’s of something in the world like spiders or drowning, or something less physical like not making that month’s rent or not being able to complete work for a client. It’s true that sometimes fears become reality, but more often than not we’re blowing things completely out of proportion. So let’s be honest, what’s holding you back in your business and why?

Yes, fears can be a good thing because they’ll warn you about potential issues and things you may not have thought of when pursuing what you thought was a great idea for your business. It’s very important to really consider what could go wrong so that you can decide if it’s really want you want to do or if the risks, problems and challenges outweigh the potential benefits that could be had even if everything went exactly right, or better than could be anticipated. Knowing the potential issues can be a really big benefit to starting or growing a business. It’s when all you see are problems and fears that it becomes an issue.

Part of the issue is that fears distract you from getting things done. If you’re so focused on what could go wrong you’ll never give anything a chance, and sometimes it seems like luck is the reason things are successful. But usually there’s a lot more to it than that, including lots of hard work. It’s healthy to work hard, have big dreams, and deal with a few fears. If that’s not part of your life you, and your business, are not as healthy as you could be.

So this week I encourage you to dream big. Pull up those ideas that you’ve put aside and take another look at them. Figure out if they’re a good fit for your business, even if they’re a little scary, and how you can make them happen. Don’t give up on them because they were too big before, take a new look at them and maybe ask a friend, coworker, or consultant to look at them too and see what you’re missing that would make it achievable.

“Too many entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas never act on them because they foresee risk, challenges, hassles, problems, and possible failure and disappointment. It’s critical to shift your imagination…” Chris Howard

Attention to Appearances

When it comes to health one of the quickest ways people can tell if you’re healthy or not is by looking at you. If you’re not healthy you won’t look healthy and probably won’t take time to really care for your appearance. Countless people have said that they find that just by putting on certain clothes they felt more confident, better about themselves, more capable and more focused. I’m always amazed how the seemingly littlest things can make such a big difference.

Let’s be honest, we all have our ‘lounge around the house clothes’ and some of us who are lucky enough to work from home don’t really get dressed up before sitting down to work each day. And that’s just fine, we certainly don’t need to look ready to meet someone really important every second of every day. It’s good to get out of the clothes that you wear to your job or to meet with clients and take time to relax.

But whether you work from home or not you most likely will still have interactions with people, whether that’s going to the grocery store, coffee shop, family activities, or to meet with a client. I enjoy my ‘house’ clothes as much as the next person, but unless you’re really sick or really pregnant I don’t agree that you should wear just anything when you go out. Part of the reason is because you are creating impressions everywhere you go anytime you go anywhere. People’s judgments of you isn’t the question, but rather it’s about you showing your best self to the world.

If you look put together and like you care about how you look, you’ll get more respect and usually have a better experience than if you go looking like you don’t care about anything. Your appearance is the first impression you make on someone, and while it’s always possible to repair first impressions usually we only get one shot. So don’t waste your opportunities and choose to put your best foot forward every day.  If you’re not sure what your best foot looks like, make the time and investment to talk with a stylist to talk about the clothes, and hairstyle, and when appropriate makeup, that’s right for you.

I encourage you to put a little extra effort into your appearance each time you go out this week and see what a difference it makes for you personally and with your interactions with the world.

A Mission to Make a (Healthy) Difference

Here in the USA most of us have choices about whether or not we want to be healthy, and many of us choose to not be healthy. We choose to fill our bodies with junk food, our minds with TV and our lives with people who influence us in not so good ways. But many people around the world aren’t as fortunate as those of us who live in the United States are, and while it’s not our fault that they’re not as blessed as we are, we have an opportunity to help them.

You’ve heard it said that the chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and that concept applies here. If you want a healthy world, if you want to truly solve the world’s problems, it begins with teaching the next generation the value of giving back. From the time I was a young child and my parents encouraged us to make donations at church or in the Salvation Army Santa buckets, to volunteer in soup kitchens or for special community events, or to participate in work days where we cleaned up non-profit facilities. We didn’t volunteer because it was politically correct or to look good, we did it because there was a need and we were capable of helping resolve that need.

I’ve gone on mission trips, worked in my community and others, signed petitions, and contributed to walks, charities and causes not because it looks good on my resume or I’m “doing my good deed for the day,” but because I believe that my life is better because I’ve taken the time to care about people who are less fortunate than I am. Yes, my actions have helped the people in need, but truly they’re the people who have blessed me.

So this week I encourage you to make time to make a difference around the world.  Set up a schedule of charity donations throughout the year, help your neighbors in need, contribute to your community and choose to help others not only because you’ll feel good about it, but it will have far-reaching benefits beyond your simple actions and contributions.

Planning for Problems

As a business coach I talk with lots of business owners who are struggling. Let’s face it, depending on the day any of us could be struggling with something, whether it’s a frustrating customer, a product failure or a timing snafu that screwed with our marketing, plans or productivity. So the struggle is something that we all face, it’s not unique to just those of us who have physical businesses or are trying to succeed with an MLM. The thing that frustrates me most with business owners I talk with, as well as life coaching clients, is that more often than not there were plenty of red flags that showed up and were ignored and now they’re falling off the cliff without a parachute and expecting a miracle.

This month as we talk about health it’s important to recognize that health is done by sticking with healthy habits or changing bad habits into good ones. We’re not perfect, so more often than not we have work to do when it comes to our habits, and it’s not realistic to assume that we’ll ever attain perfection and not have things that we’ll have to work on.

The question of success comes in with when there’s something wrong, and in our reaction or response to it. Do we wait for all systems failure or do we make the time on a regular basis to tend to things so that it never ever gets that bad? I believe in yearly, monthly, weekly and daily maintenance rather than waiting for stuff to hit the fan. By preparing ahead of time, planning my day/week/month/year out, and leaving room every day for issues that pop up as well as personal time, I’m not facing an unmanageable struggle when bigger issues come my way and force me to move things around by a day or two. But it’s only because I’m prepared personally, financially, relationally, and business-wise that when issues happen I’m not usually dealing with as big of an issue, and I’m more capable of dealing with them if they are.

Your business and your customers depend on you to be on top of things. One of the only ways this happens is if you’re prepared and working ahead rather than catching up. You’ll accomplish more and feel better about yourself, your life and your business and be able to better serve your customers when you take the time to anticipate the issues and have fall-back plans for if they do appear.

“…that it is the neglect of timely repair that makes rebuilding necessary.” Richard Whately

Social Health

Social is a word that’s used regularly in our culture thanks to the daily use of social media for most of us. Social media, starting way back when with MySpace and now with dozens of sites like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube, has made our world seem a whole lot smaller than it used to be. It’s made it possible for us to have much healthier long distance relationships, stay connected with family members no matter where they are in the world, and network around the world rather than just as far as we are willing to drive to.

Personally I’m both for and against the concept of social media. I love how it has connected us, I love how we’re able to share easily with friends, family and fans, I love that it encourages us to be social, I love how it encourages us to be open and honest about our lives and our businesses, and I love the power it’s given us to sharing about important causes and needs. However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing. We can go overboard with sharing, including details that people don’t really need to know because they’re too personal or they’re not really important. Many of us have yet to find the balance between the gift of social media and the curse or addiction.

What is social media really about though? It’s a reminder that we’re not alone in the world, we don’t have to bear our burdens alone and that life is better when we’re together. Generally social people are healthier and happier, it’s when it becomes a competition or insatiable impulse that things begin to spiral down.

So what’s the verdict on social media and living in a social culture? It’s an essential part of our lives if we want to be healthy and thrive, but even the most social of us need to make time to be alone too. I encourage you to make time for both this week!