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Archive for September, 2011

What Are You Willing to Change?

September 29th, 2011

I had a meeting today with a young man who contacted me about possibly becoming a client of mine. In his mid-30s, “Tom” (not his real name), is experiencing some signs of aging. He is a bit overweight, often feels fatigued, and suffers from some intestinal issues. Tom doesn’t have a serious or chronic health condition; he just needs to modify a few of his habits and learn how to prepare more of his own meals.

About five minutes in to our conversation, Tom felt compelled to announce to me that he is “not about to give up meat,” to which he added “I like my steak too much.” It seemed odd to me because we were merely getting acquainted and weren’t talking about his diet yet.

A few minutes later—when we were discussing diet—Tom told me (three times) me how hard it was for him to eat right because he had no time to prepare meals. He described his work schedule, spoke of his social obligations and mentioned a host of other interests. When I asked him what he felt was a reasonable amount of time per week to spend on food preparation, he couldn’t come up with an answer.

Tom isn’t all that unusual. Most of us have foods we love—sometimes to the point of addiction—things like coffee, soda pop, convenience foods or alcohol. Many of us have harried schedules and busy lives, and we’ve become accustomed to getting our food on demand, with little or no effort required on our parts.

At the end of our meeting, Tom told me he did want to become a client. He said he wants to work with me “because I know some of your other clients and they’re having success.” Tom has a good chance to be successful too. He’s bright and learns things quickly and I believe he understands how essential good health is to having a good life. But there is one issue Tom is going to have to come to terms with: what is he willing to change?

One of my favorite quotes—and it’s said in various ways—is:

If you keep doing what you’re doing,
you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.”

I’m hoping that Tom can embrace the wisdom in those words. My bet is that he can…what do you think?

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The Hostess Gift

September 16th, 2011

I threw a small party at my home this past week. It was for my Fork in the Road clients and it was a fabulously fun event. I had asked my friend Cyd Koehn to handle catering, and—because I wanted to be a stress-less hostess—I also hired someone to do some lawn and patio cleanup before the party. The “yard guy,” Tommy, did a splendid job for me. About a half hour before the guests were to arrive, I went outside to put the cushions on my patio chairs. At that point I discovered that when he moved the furniture to clean the deck, Tommy had put everything back, but in a different configuration from what I was used to. Now, let me mention that I have lived in the same house—with the same funky, vintage patio furniture—for over 20 years. Each fall I tuck the furniture in the basement to protect it, and each spring I haul it back out for the season. Every chair, table and accessory has an assigned place, and the slight worn spots on the deck bear testament to the designated areas for each item. Evidentially, Tommy hadn’t picked up on these visual cues.

I admit that I felt a twinge of annoyance when I saw the patio arrangement, because it meant I’d have to take the time to reshuffle things. By this point it was just a few minutes before the party was to begin. What if a guest arrived early? What about the wine glasses I still wanted to polish? It had been a busy week and I had everything timed out and planned in my head.

And that’s about the time when I noticed something else. The new composition, the way Tommy had placed the furniture… it actually looked better than the way I had been used to. Not only did this revised arrangement seem especially inviting, it allowed for a more efficient traffic flow. Holy crap. I had been using the same exact layout for two decades…and Tommy the yard guy comes along and—in a moment of what I had written off as inattention to detail—he rocks my deck for the better.

Later, with the guests long gone and a fresh glass of wine in my hand, I stopped to reflect on all that I had learned from that exchange. And I know I got more out of the deal than a clean deck and a new furniture arrangement. Thank you, Tommy.

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