Updated: May 5
How to Improve Your Health & Build Caring Cultures
It might surprise you to discover that I faced an undiagnosed illness at the age of 33. I didn’t know what to call it, and neither did a team of five doctors. Despite diet and exercise, I gained weight, lost color in my skin and eyes, and felt my energy drain away. Through the confusion, I kept working, doing, being and achieving—sacrificing my health, my relationship…myself.
My journey through medical misdiagnoses left me wondering, “What more can I do?” And what I discovered is that the secret to success wasn’t tied to my determination, my ambition, or my relationships. Just like you. Just like your team. Just like your organization. The secret was to simplify. What I discovered as a result is that having more starts with doing less.
I didn’t go from hopeless to healed overnight. I recovered one decision at a time. Any change is possible—from your personal health to the health of your team or organization—by doing the doable. By choosing differently.
The past is fixed. You can’t change it. The choices you made and actions you took are gone - lost into the sands of time. Right or wrong, they are gone. I don’t know about you, but I am who I am because of my choices—and despite them. I’m the first person to say, “I’m not perfect”—but I’m also first in line to keep climbing.
Ready to make a fresh start?
You can restart your day anytime you wish. It doesn’t have to be in the morning. It can be right now. You can begin again, anytime. Putting the past away is easier than you think—and it feels pretty good, too.
We have this moment, right now, and it’s a very powerful thing. Much more powerful than the past, actually. Because we can use this moment to create the future.
It’s a curious paradox but achieving the impossible always starts with doing the do-able.
Create Your Five-Minute Fix:
Choose a pressing problem. A challenge. Something in your life that’s causing friction, frustration, or other f-words to show up. The challenge could be of a personal nature or a professional one. (If you’re doing this as an individual, I recommend choosing something personal—something that might be outside of the corporate environment, outside of your career). For example, how about wishing you had more time to work out and concentrate on physical fitness? Wanting to have a weekly date night with someone special? Or maybe finding your way to that vacation in Cabo you’ve been dreaming about?
Write down your challenge. Drop back from the keyboard and go old school. Put pen to paper. My friend and colleague, Tissa Richards, explains that there is power in the pen:
“According to Ladders Inc., executives spend ~85% of the workweek typing on devices. My executive coaching clients who agree to try coaching exercises with paper and pen are in great company. Creative luminaries like Joyce Carol Oates, Toni Morrison, Truman Capote and Stephen King all write longhand for most of their drafts.”
So, the physical act of writing can activate creativity. Write down that challenge that you are facing, right now.
Press pause. The game begins with a pause. That’s right, a pause. Like a pitcher in baseball, coming to a stop before she delivers the ball: you must pause. During the pause, you remind yourself of this universal truth:
You can commit to almost anything for just five minutes. Step inside of this powerful pause. Ask yourself these three questions (or, if you are doing this as a group exercise, listen closely as the facilitator asks everyone):
Go slow to go fast. Take your time. Don’t grab at the first answer that comes to mind. Ask yourself, after each question (or the facilitator will): And what else?
Find the think-big-act-small, five-minute fix you need right now. What would happen if you took five minutes—just five minutes!—and stepped towards what you know you need to do. Still not clear on the smallest thing you can give yourself permission to adjust? Go back to the beginning: pause. Take a breath. Ask the three questions. Plus one more: And what else?
How do you know if you’re succeeding? If you’re making that commitment, five minutes at a time, you are headed towards the winner’s circle. Can you help others to do the same? Maybe you’re not just a team player, you’re a team leader - winning the game five minutes at a time. Because that’s a timeframe for success that anyone can handle.
Whatever it is that needs attention, give it your attention for just five minutes. Those five minutes could put you five minutes closer to your goal. Think about it:
● You could reconnect with your sanity in five minutes.
● Or reconnect with your family.
● Find a way to adjust so that you can find a new perspective - a perspective that reminds you that you keep your commitments to yourself.
● You could even grab lunch, or a snack, if you end a meeting five minutes early.
● Because if you are going to honor your commitments to others, you have to start by caring enough about yourself to spend five minutes—just five minutes!— on some powerful and personal self-care.
Consider that your success could be right here, right now. Why not take five minutes and explore it?
Take a pause.
Play with some new ideas around success and self-care.
Explore where success could lead you.