Discipline Leads to Freedom

Last November, I received a couple of health wakeup calls.

The first, which I’ve written about here before was cancer – squamous cell carcinoma on my tongue – which I had surgically removed and for which I had my official hospital discharge earlier this month.

The second came at the same appointment when my doctor said that my LDL Cholesterol was 197, HDL 66 and the ratio was 4.2. He wanted to put me on a statin drug, but that was quickly overshadowed by dealing with cancer.

I did a lot of research following those twin health scares and decided to improve my health through discipline rather than drugs.

Nathan Schock

I just had those levels retested and my LDL was 141, HDL 74 and the ratio 3.1. My doctor said what I was able to do in eight months was rare. Most people don’t change their lifestyle.

I’ll tell you what I changed, but first what I didn’t do.

I didn’t count calories. I didn’t adopt a particular diet (keto, Atkins, etc.). I didn’t starve myself. I also didn’t cut much, other than (almost) all sugar, starch and dairy.

I already didn’t eat much sugar, but I wasn’t strict about it. Now, almost the only sugar I have is the little bit that comes from eating out and dark chocolate.

Dairy started because it bothers I have a daughter who needs to be dairy free. We have shifted to almond milk (which my wife makes and is amazing), other nut milks, and sheep and goat cheese.

Gluten because the more you eat bread, the faster you’re dead. Also not allowed for my daughter so it wasn’t difficult to eliminate.

Here’s what I added:

1. Big increase in nuts, especially macadamia, walnuts, pistachios, and Brazil nuts. Nuts are great for cholesterol (who knew) and almost everything else. I have a few handfuls every day. These make for excellent snacks at work and help me not to be tempted by the ever-present candy and cookies.

2. Dramatically increased the amount and, especially, the variety of vegetables. I already ate more vegetables than the average person, but my research on cancer found how good a variety of vegetables are for you. Here is what I added to my daily salad: red cabbage, broccoli sprouts, radishes, radish sprouts, kale. I grow the sprouts at home. Also, replaced almost all rice with riced cauliflower, which I like better. I pre-make a salad for every day that I don’t have a lunch meeting, keeping olive oil and balsamic vinegar at work so I don’t have to use unhealthy salad dressings.

3. Increased herbs. I didn’t know how good turmeric, rosemary, and a host of other herbs were for you. I cook with them all the time and have some supplements.

4. Increased tea, especially green tea. And I drink less coffee because of it. But still didn’t give up coffee. Couldn’t do that!

5. Increased supplements. I’m taking magnesium, turmeric, berberine, vitamin C, fish oil, and more.

6. Increased exercise. I learned how healthy a walk is after dinner, so I have been doing that almost every night.

7. Intermittent fasting. The body needs extended breaks from digestion and I now skip breakfast a few times a week in order to fast for 14-18 hours.

There’s more, but I primarily credit these changes with my improved health. I disciplined myself in order to achieve a longer and freer life.

Betty White’s secret to success: Authenticity

Betty White’s star just kept rising as she grew older.

The iconic television star died on New Year’s Eve, just shy of her 100th birthday. Though she appeared in many successful television shows and films – including “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “Golden Girls” – White became a cultural hero beginning in the 2000’s.

She was featured in Super Bowl ads, wrote a book, produced a show which pulled practical jokes on young people and even hosted “Saturday Night Live” at the age of 88.

Betty White

White was smart and worked hard to build a career that lasted seven decades. But that doesn’t explain why she attained what became a kind of mythical status in American culture.

That was something else, which I think is best described as authenticity, and from which we can draw lessons from her.

She attracted people because they believed what she said. More specifically, they thought she believed what she was saying. That’s hard to find in today’s culture but it’s an important characteristic when you think about leadership and success in business.

We’re drawn to authentic people. Those are the bosses we want to work for.

We crave authentic experiences. Those are the activities that we will pay more for.

We want authentic lives. The ones that people will remember.

Betty White was one of those people. Or was she?

She was a performer, an actor. She brought authenticity to the role.

Playing a role is the essence of staging memorable customer experiences. Think of Disneyland.

Your business isn’t a fairytale world of heroes and villains. But in a real sense, we are all acting.

Just like Betty White. The question is do your customers believe what you say? Are you authentic in the role?

The Persistence of the Founder

Persistence > talent, genius, education.

I watch very little TV, so I might be the last person to watch the Founder on Netflix. I enjoyed that the movie portrayed Ray Kroc in a way that felt unbiased, highlighting both positive and negative behaviors.

But there was one aspect of the movie that really stood out to me. That is how Kroc credited his success to his persistence:

He needed a lot of it. Even as it was exploding, his business faced bankruptcy as a real possibility. I read a lot of business biographies and that is a recurring theme.

When we see today’s successful companies, we tend to see their success as a foregone conclusion.

But many of today’s great companies had near-death experiences that their founders have written about: Tesla, Nike and lululemon are some recent examples that come to mind.

This is important for current business owners to know. When you encounter tough times, that’s not weird. Business is difficult.

I once worked with a founder who thought business was all about the idea. He believed that if your concept was good enough, the business should practically run itself.

When he encountered difficulties he started tinkering with the concept. If he could just get the concept right, everything would be okay.

But there was nothing wrong with the concept. Could it be better? Sure. But was it good enough? Yes. It just required a lot of hard work to make it work. All businesses do.

He eventually lost his business because he was trying to perfect the idea.

He didn’t have the persistence of Ray Kroc.

Do you?

A learning – and winning – mindset

Two weeks ago, a devastating winter storm passed through an area of the country that isn’t used to cold and snow. It wreaked havoc across the south and disrupted millions of lives.

I had the opportunity to work with a couple of disrupted lives and the contrast between the two is one of the best examples of the impact of mindset that I’ve ever witnessed.

I frequently coach salespeople with a combination of virtual training and regularly scheduled calls. On the calls, we talk through their sales process, strategize current opportunities in their pipeline and discuss what they’ve learned in the virtual training.

I had calls scheduled with two people that week. The first was on the day the storm hit. That morning, I got an email from that person saying, “It will be doubtful I will be on the call. We have a huge winter storm here and everything is shut down and probably going to lose power soon.”

The second scheduled call was with someone who emailed me the night before (Wednesday) saying, “Our area of Texas has been without power since Sunday night. Please call me during our scheduled meeting time as a video call/WiFi access is not an option given the circumstances. Look forward to our conversation – thank you!”

When we got on the call, I discovered that she had completed her assigned online video training the night before by plugging a hotspot into her car and watching on her mobile phone while the car heater kept her warm!

Neither person chose their circumstances, but they both got to decide their response. Those responses were clear evidence of the impact that mindset has on those decisions. You see, one of the two had been faithful in completing training assignments, updating their sales dashboard and attending our regular calls. Guess which one.

That’s why it’s so important for companies to have a development strategy for their team. That’s the third step of my 4D Transformation Method, which I talk about in this video:

Does your company have a development program for everyone on the team? How effective is it? Let me help you evaluate it by taking this short assessment and then signing up for a strategy call with me after.

One more question about these two people: which one do you think booked a sale that week?

Paying Attention to the Obvious

Because I consume a lot of content, I frequently read things that overlap with other things I’m reading, podcasts I’m listening to, blogs I’m following, etc. I try to pay extra attention to those things when they happen, believing that those serendipitous moments often happen for a reason.

Recently, that forced me to pay more attention to…attention. At the same time I was reading Finding Flow, which I blogged about here, and learning about the importance of attention to achieving flow, I was also participating in a class at my church called The Journey. In preparation for a recent session, we read Jesus’ Parable of the Sower and the Lamp Under the Jar.

The Parable of the Sower is all about the different ways that people receive the Word of God and what kind of fruit it allows them to bear. And it turns out that the difference boils down to one thing, and it’s Jesus’ instruction from Luke 8:18a: “Pay attention to how you listen!”

The message was the same to each individual. The difference was in how much attention the recipient paid to it. This made me think about the importance of paying attention. It’s so easy to get on auto-pilot in our busy, distracted world and fail to pay attention to everything happening around us.

It reminds me of the famous Kenyon College graduation speech from novelist David Foster Wallace, this is water. Click here for full transcript and audio. But I really like the shorter clip from this video:

Stop and pay attention this week. See how it causes you to order your life differently.

Get Bitter, or Get Better

In his sermon this morning, my pastor had a great message for everyone who has had life upended by COVID-19. The advice he gave to our congregation is useful for any person or organization dealing with this crisis, or, as he stated, any crisis that comes along.

Think about not getting caught waiting; waiting for everything to return to normal…most likely things are going to be different in the future. There’s no going back to what was, so we need to lean into what’s coming and not miss out on the opportunity that this season – this situation – gives us. We want to look back at what we’ve lived through in this season and accept the challenge of it for what it is and see it as a part of moving forward.

So my challenge to us is this: ‘Are you going to look back at this season with rejoicing or with regret? Are you going to rejoice in the opportunities that you had to learn and to grow and to engage with your life in a new and maybe different way and set yourself up for a better future or are you going to regret having all of the time that you’ve had and all this opportunity that you’ve had different than it’s been before; are you going to regret not having taken advantage of this opportunity. Are you going to sit back and let this all happen around you and to you or are you going to grab a hold of the opportunity and grow into what you want to become when this is all done and we’re on to whatever the new normal is after the storm?’

As pastor McCready said, we get to choose how we respond to the crisis – we have a choice in how we respond when anything in our life doesn’t go the way we want. He put it like this:

“In every storm, we have a chance to respond. We have the choice. We can either get bitter or we can get better.” Pastor Bill McCready

So, what mindset will you choose in the midst of COVID-19? Are you going to use the time of isolation to get better? To read good books, build new skills, shape better habits? Prepare for a new future Or, just follow Twitter and Google News all day and get bitter, hoping that the world quickly goes back to what it was? It’s your choice.

Here’s his full message: