Category Archives: Fitness

Independence Day? – Aren’t We More Dependent On Main Stream Media, Prescription drugs, and … ?

Let me declare up front that there was much to celebrate on the 4th of July, and this blog is not meant to distract from the great beginnings of this country that July 4 commemorates, and the many outstanding accomplishments that the USA can claim as our own over the past 235 years. In many ways, it’s remarkable how well the subsequent Constitution and Bill of Rights have fared over such a long period of dramatic change in the country.

We celebrate Independence Day as freedom from overt government intrusion into our lives, yet gazing back over the landscape of events and behaviors in recent years, I sense that we have allowed ourselves to become more dependent. The freedom and advances we benefit from today have come at a cost of our critical thinking skills and accepting responsibility for outcomes that effect each of us, our communities, and our nation.

I’ll touch on a few that are top of mind. You’ll likely have a different set, but these are top of mind as I write this.

• Main Stream Media – Stories That Sell Advertising Revenue Instead of Objective Informing

• Prescription Drugs Abuse

Main Stream Media

We use Main Stream Media (MSM) to educate and inform us on global and national events knowing full well that each major MSM channel has its own political and commercial (revenue) agenda. You can scan the channels any evening and hear very different “news reports” depending on whether you are watching Fox, CNN, MSNBC, or your local programming. We tune to the MSM channel that best fits our belief system and then allow the flow of information to confirm and advance those beliefs. Remember that MSM is a for-profit business, and you get what you pay for, meaning MSM will follow and report on the rubbernecking story at the expense of what events here or abroad are truly shaping our future.

I have been using the remote much more lately to scan between the major MSM channels in an attempt to triangulate on the information provided and then go off and coalesce those disparate reports such that I can make a more informed assessment of the information provided. When that isn’t enough, I’ll do more research to better understand the issue. I refuse to allow my belief system to be informed or altered by simple sound bites from the most polished, handsome, or politically biased newscasters. Be cautious when forming an opinion dependent solely on one news source, regardless of the stature it carries in MSM.

Prescription Drugs Abuse

This past April, the White House announced taking action to try to reverse what it characterizes as a growing epidemic of prescription drug abuse. A look at recent numbers demonstrates there is a ton of work ahead to reverse this problem.

• 33 million: Number of Americans aged 12 and older that the Food and Drug Administration estimates misused prescription drugs in 2007 alone. It represents an increase of 4 million from the 29 million who abused prescription drugs in 2002.

• $234.1 billion: Amount of money spent on prescription drugs in the United States in 2008 alone. This sum more than quadrupled the amount spent on prescribed medications in 1999.

• 48: Percentage of Americans who used at least one prescription drug per month from 2005 to 2008. This is a 4 percent increase from usage levels a decade ago.

• 90: Percentage of Americans aged 60 or older who have used a prescription drug in the past month. Most of these are a result of combating age-related diseases. Some are a result of doctors over-prescribing medicines.

• 20: Percentage of U.S. children who have used a prescription drug in the past month.

Just recently, four people were killed in a NY pharmacy by a person intent on gaining access to pain killers, one of the most insidious addictions that arise from the abuse of pain management in what are otherwise normal people. Parents run off and acquire antibiotics when their child develops a sniffle. Poor test grades? Try an ADD drug. Can’t cope with work or relationships? Pop a few benzodiazepines to get through the day.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are many medically necessary prescriptions written, though I can’t help but consider how many of these have now become the new normal when dealing with pain, minor infections, or manageable stress. I’ve tried gutting it out after knee surgery and that was clearly a mistake, pain medicine was needed. But are prescription pain pills needed for what are everyday aches and pains? Minor infections have a way of running their course instead of abusing antibiotics and creating a more drug resilient bacteria. Stress seems to be the new normal for many as more work is heaped upon a “right-sized” organization. Can benzos (like Xanax) really get more work done, or are they removing the eustress we need to accomplish more in tight time frames.

That’s my two for now. You will likely have your own top two or three and someone else will have another few. There seems to be an abundance of ways to become dependent on expedient decision-making or eluding difficult issues. I’m doing my best to better understand the issues that are framing our collective future and our ability to enhance the way we go about shaping that outcome. Our personal leadership in action can translate into community and corporate leadership. There is a huge opportunity to make a difference, if we once again declare our Independence.

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Action Plan for Healthy Leadership

How many of you think that you can get by with one hour less of sleep? Working through lunch equals one more hour of productivity, right?  Although these lifestyles may appear to work in the short-term, they are not sustainable standard practices. Even in small amounts, sleep deprivation and lack of work breaks significantly undermines your capacity for focus, analytical thinking, and creativity. Think about these suggestions and try at least one and see if you gain more productivity and creativity.

  • Schedule uninterrupted work periods: I’ve read research that shows we can manage our attention and achieve more when we work in uninterrupted sprints, rather than marathons. Once a day, schedule an uninterrupted period of 60 to 90 minutes. Try getting in a bit earlier than everyone else and promise yourself that you will resist the typical “good morning” chit chat that shaves time off of your most productive time of the day. Post a do not disturb sign on your door for a certain period each day (particularly first thing in the morning). When you can, focus on one task at a time and work until they are done. Give yourself a gift of an energy break for getting these tasks off the to-do list.
  • Take an energy break Get up and take a 5- to 10-minute energy break, do something completely different: take a walk, or talk to that friend that might have been the “good morning” distraction earlier. When I was working at Bell labs in Holmdel, the building seemed designed for just this since the entire outer frame was glass with corridors along the glass frame.  A loop around the building was refreshing while getting daylight and seeing the outdoors.  Any building can appear like this.  Walk the stairs and walk outside for 100 yards.  That’s all it takes to get that much-needed energy back in your stride. Colleagues will come to appreciate that when they do talk with you, they get your full, undivided attention, instead of the body signals that you really want to get back to your focused set of tasks.
  • Take a lunch break: This is your big energy break.  Even if it is only 30 minutes, get some low-fat nutritional lite meal items and move around. When you eat, take small bites and actually notice and savor your food as you chew and swallow.
  • Work hard at play: Play lies at the heart of our capacity to imagine and invent. I’ve read articles on the neuroplasticity of the brain that shows that you can build new neural pathways and slow the negative impact that stress and aging can have on your mental abilities.
  • Setting aside time to learn:  With work so intense; Covey’s Sharpening the Saw principle may never happen.  Learn a new skill for your role or future role such that you will be more efficient now and more capable of moving your career to your new destination. I’ve done this recently and it so refreshing to not just have new skills, but knowing that you can still bear down and acquire significant new game changing competencies.  Or simply practice a long-lost hobby, such as art, the piano, or needlepoint—all of these can boost your long-term mental agility. If you make this fun, powerful endorphins will be released in your body, which promote wellness and the kinds of positive emotions and energy that are the foundation of optimum performance.
  • Meet with colleagues when you don’t need anything from them: Build that relationship and listen to them.  Shift your focus from self to them and open yourself to different views and opinions.  One new idea can be a great leaping off moment for the rest of the day.  Your colleague may gain from talking through a tough task as well.
  • Sleep: Go to bed an hour earlier. Wind down at least an hour before and do not check e-mails just before going to sleep, unless you want to be twisting and turning most of the night trying to respond in what should be a resting sleep state.  If you are having trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, checking emails as extra productivity is counterproductive when trying to return to sleep.  Not sure what your email backlog is like, but not many of mine are uplifting enough to provide the peaceful state of mind allowing restful sleep.

Come back to me with your ideas on how you have made significant gains in well-being and productivity.  As I said before, I learn at least one new good idea from every interaction

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Posted by on April 5, 2011 in Fitness, LinkedIn


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Healthy Leadership

Today’s work force has been asked to do more work with fewer people.  The recession has increased stress on employees by demanding them to perform the same amount of organizational work with a slimmed down employee base.  For those that whose roles were eliminated and remain searching for employment, a different type of stress awaits them most mornings.  To remain vibrant and lead in this environment, everyone should be investing in both mental and physical fitness.

Longer work days can become a rationale for reducing or eliminating time set aside for mental and physical conditioning.  While this can work in short bursts, this is not a sustainable lifestyle.   Most people think of stress as the negative influence or distress.  Stress can be a positive force or eustress.  Since there is little opportunity to eliminate stress, changing the balance of stress into eustress can create wonderous benefits.  It can be a strong motivator, keeping you stretching for and achieving new levels of excellence.  However, too much of anything including eustress, can cause focus on short-term wins at the expense of long-term success. 

Successful leadership puts demands on the whole person, both mental and physical.  Leading by example requires abundant energy, and no amount of caffeine or energy drinks can sustain your energy throughout the long days when every interaction with clients, employees, or shareholders is your 15 minutes of influence that affects outcomes and organizational success. 

Those that know me have heard me say that I keep mentally and physical fit for three “clients”.  The first client is myself since I feel better and more vibrant after a regimen of hard exercise, and hope to live a longer and more healthy life in the years ahead.  The second set of clients are my family, those wonderfully loving people who have high expectations that I will be an active contributor to the fabric that makes our family so special.  The third client is everyone I come in contact with in my career.  For me to be credible to the multiple generations of employees I influence or lead, I need to relate to them both mentally and physically, engaging in long work days and even longer play times when we gather for social and personal relationship activities.  For these to be repeatable, fitness is required.

In the second installment of this blog topic, I’ll lay out some specific examples and a roadmap on how to get to this balanced state of mental and physical conditioning that have worked for me and many others I know.  Stay tuned!

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Posted by on March 27, 2011 in Fitness, LinkedIn


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