My good friend and associate, Glenda Bailye-Bray, in a recent post spoke about readiness for change and in particular the need for leaders to be in the right state, first. It got me thinking about my own, recent, personal change story.
During the last 8 weeks of Lockdown I broadly think the population has fallen into two camps. Fridge-Raiders, who’ve succumbed to the irresistible allure of cool snacks and ready-to-pour wine boxes, or Patio-Pounders, using the opportunity to get a bit of Joe Wicks-esque exercise in on their patio, if they’re lucky enough to have one, or anywhere they can grab a little bit of space to metaphorically swing a cat or kettlebell.
I’ve fallen into the Patio-Pounding group and taken to the back garden to do some regular exercise before breakfast each morning. I’m no CrossFit super-human, just a late forty (Ok! I’m virtually 50), tall, slightly wobbly around the middle chap who was a bit fed up looking in the mirror and wondering whether he should put 2 mirrors together so he could see the whole picture! The answer was “no!” by the way.
It wasn’t that I was overly unhappy with how I looked and felt, I just knew I could look and feel better. But the whole experience over the last couple of months has given me a paralleled perspective on how your approach to change can affect you and the results you achieve as a business leader, so I thought I’d share that with you (but save you from any embarrassing before and after body shots!).
I'm a sucker for a Mini-Cheddar
Firstly, it was pretty clear early on that this wasn’t going to be a quick fix. I wasn’t particularly unhealthy and I’ve exercised fairly regularly over the years, though not always continually, but frankly I was trying to undo years of body mismanagement. I like a beer, or a glass of wine, or a gin & tonic, or insert pretty much any alcoholic beverage here, plus I’m a sucker for a Mini-Cheddar. These things don’t help, especially when, at the start of the lockdown period, they were readily available all day. They were graded as essential supplies by the Government after all.
In the beginning, wondering out onto my sun-drenched patio each morning and following a 25-minute HIIT routine seemed like a free-pass to my evening tipple (OK, afternoon) and snack-fest. The trouble with this was that I wasn’t seeing any positive body results. It wasn’t until I ditched the snacks and pulled back on the booze that things started to feel better. But even so, the results were slow.
The work learning here is that making any change takes full commitment. Don’t expect it to happen immediately, especially if you are trying to put things right that have been “wrong” for a long time. Whatever the internet tells you, there is no magic pill to swallow. You have to put in the work to get results.
Did I really get the benefit I could have got?
In the early days and weeks of working out on your own, it’s far too easy to quit if it gets a little difficult. At least it was for me.
In an argument between the mind and the body, the mind would win hands-down more often than not. But who is benefitting from missing those couple of reps, or short-pushing on that press-up, or taking a slightly longer breather than I should? The answer is no-one. “Yay! I completed that workout 😊”, but did I? Did I really get the benefit I could have got, if I’d done the work properly? The answer is obvious.
It made me realise that’s where a personal trainer could help. Someone who has trodden the path with others like me before and understands what’s needed to get results. Someone who will ensure I use the right form, stick to the programme, and encourage me to keep going and not quit. Their actions are likely to help me reach my goals more quickly, but I still have to put in the work. They just make my effort in some cases more efficient, but definitely more effective.
The work learning here was that getting help from experts can show me the right things to do and the right way to do them and help me achieve my goals more quickly than struggling alone, where it’s too easy to ease off if things get tough. But you still have to commit to seeing the actions through.
90% of abs are made in the kitchen, apparently
As the regularity of my exercise continued, I got hungry to see better results more quickly. I was really beginning to see the benefit of the commitment and greedily wanted more. I felt better, more energised and positive about things in general. So I took to the internet for more inspiration.
My research said that “90% of abs are made in the kitchen.” Even though I haven’t seen my abs for several years, I am aware that they exist and thought it would be nice to get reacquainted with them, so I began to change my diet and take a few supplements. It wasn’t terrible before but enhancements wouldn't hurt. Here’s where I started to see a more obvious improvement, though I still had to put in the work on the patio. But, the diet and supplements help me achieve more. I got stronger and had more stamina, which enabled me to stretch myself further and increase the intensity of the workouts.
The work learning here was looking at things like new systems or tools can increase the effectiveness of your efforts in the pursuit of your goals, and allow you to go further than you first thought.
The communication aspect of change is often under-valued
Finally, I’ve noticed something else. In the battle of mind versus body, the body is beginning to win more often. I’m out there every morning (notwithstanding my rest day, which is very important), doing my workout, increasing the intensity and seeing it through. Some days are better than others. Some are just hellish. But I’m out there doing it and I can hear myself giving myself more positive encouragement. Little fist pumps when I nail a set, and pep-talks when I think about quitting. I now have far more successful days than painful ones as a result.
My work learning here is that the positive communication aspect of change is often under-valued, yet is so important in keeping people focused, on-message and in pursuit of the goals. It's vital to catch the good things, celebrate success no matter how small and tackle the things that don’t go quite as well, but always keep the end goal front and centre.
You've got to be long-term committed and willing to put the work in
7 weeks in and I’m seeing some positive results, but the long-term commitment is still a requirement. I could perhaps expect better results after 7 weeks. I’ve seen loads of before and after shots of people in far worse shape than me, who’ve gone from jelly to granite in similar timescales. But I’m stubborn you see. I haven’t taken that step of getting the help of an expert, even if it is by Zoom, because I have this innate feeling that I should be capable of doing this on my own. That somehow I’m weak if I look for help. I try and justify that by making the excuse that “I probably couldn’t afford it anyway.”, regardless of the fact I have no idea what it might cost. That kind of help may be the difference between me really making a beneficial life-change from this lockdown opportunity or falling back into the normal quit-cycle in a few weeks.
My final work learning here, as a consultant myself, is that I can empathise and understand why getting some help might feel strange, awkward, weak, or costly if you’ve never done it. But it could be the thing that helps you achieve your goals more quickly, pushes your performance beyond your expectations and sustains it for years to come, provided you are committed to the change long-term and you’re willing to put the work in.
Choose Patio! Choose to be better
So I say “Choose Patio”, but go out there with a friend by your side. You’ll get better results, have someone else to talk to, get help through the tough times and also have fun whilst you’re doing it.
Andy Goram & Glenda Bailye Bray are a pair of energetic, committed partners focused on helping you plot a clear and simple path to successfully delivering the change you seek. They’ll be with you all the way (it will be them too, not some juniors you’ve never met before), or at least as long as you need them. Get in touch here.