I was teaching a Corporate Athlete Resilience program (www.jjhpi.com) on the West Coast recently and we had spent a good deal of time talking through the multidimensional nature of how we function as human beings and how we need to renew energy in the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual dimensions to maintain high levels of sustainable performance. Crucially, we talked about how the different dimensions are all interdependent.
For example, how emotionally strong and mentally focused do you feel at work if you're coming off the back of two terrible nights sleep? Equally, you may get yourself into bed at 10pm with all the right intentions of catching up on your sleep, only to find yourself still staring at the ceiling at 2am. Too much noise in the brain whirring and whirring to allow you to fall asleep. So we can't think about our well being at work purely from the neck up. We have to think about it entirely holistically.
So back to the classroom. Towards the end of the session we started to focus in on clarifying our purpose. Our 'ultimate mission' if you like. This is so important because without a clear sense of where you're heading, and why, it's all too easy to get knocked off your path by the inevitable bumps in the road. And once we have established our 'destination' we talk about the 'truth' of where we are now. The distance between the two becomes the focus of our commitment to change in the next 90 days.
I asked the participants to write down the specific thing they are going to change in the coming weeks to move them along their path to realizing their purpose. Once completed I asked if anyone was willing to share what they had written. One participant, about to become a parent for the first time, shared that his purpose was to become the best father he could possibly be. His truth was that he didn't consider himself to be in the best physical shape to do that and how the impact of his tough work schedule left him drained at the end of the day.
And then the moment of brilliance. He told the class that the action he was going to commit to was to eat a banana every morning before he left the house. Just the banana? Yes, and here's why this seemingly simple and insignificant act was so unbelievably powerful. He explained that he skipped breakfast every morning. In fact he often wouldn't eat anything until around 11am in the office, surviving only on coffee up to that point.
We know that our bodies need two things to function, oxygen and glucose. And by not eating anything until 11am he was starving himself of the glucose required to fuel his system (and let's be clear, no amount of coffee is going to cut it!). And with his physical energy dimension so critically compromised, he now understood that there was no hope of bringing good energy to his emotional (positivity), mental (focus) or spiritual (purpose) dimensions. But, with the ritual of eating that banana first thing, he was moving towards a better pattern of getting the right fuel on board from the start of the day. And with a higher level of awareness on fueling his body effectively he would metabolize the impact of the day more efficiently, leaving him with more energy to engage with his family when he got home.
I love this story so much because it connects two seemingly incongruous concepts. At one end of the scale the simple act of eating a banana within 30 minutes of getting up and, at the other, the realization of one's purpose in life.
Powerful, bite-sized change. We can all do that!