Last month I was invited by the UK’s biggest engineering solutions company (it says here) to contribute to their ‘Healthy Living’ month. Could I do something participative, fun, maybe even competitive - and something that would give employees some objective feedback re their health, habits and energy?
After their people spoke to my people we settled on half a day of half hour slots for two people at a time – the focus being a stationary cycle test to exhaustion measuring heart rate, pedal speed, resistance and duration. The 16 attending folks got homework from me in advance: Keep a food diary for a week and complete one of my killer questionaires designed to get through the spin to the (often) uncomfortable truth.
Now the bike test was designed to be all over in about 10 minutes – if you were still going after that then you were either in very good shape, bloody stubborn or on stuff. The bikes were positioned opposite each other in a semi public part of the building where casual supporters could gather. In a location where most were blokes doing blokey stuff it deliberately combined personal challenge with peer group pressure. I had a great time doing my best drill sergeant impression amidst the gurning and grunting. I was told afterwards that the buzz around the place that afternoon was all around the bike test and the pecking order it produced – but that wasn’t the headline as far as I was concerned.
The other exercise they all did was using something called Performance Profiling – an incredibly versatile tool. This time I’d come up with a list of 20 of what I saw as ‘good’ components of personal Health & Energy such as:
‘Eat breakfast daily’
‘Make time for self (guilt-free)’
‘Enjoy your workouts’
They scored themselves out of ten for each of the components – 10 being consistently good – then their friend would score them on the same measures. Then they chose the top five that for them was most important to improve or get even better at, and finally they ranked the top three from this five in order of personal importance.
You wanna guess what came out top of that group of 16 blokes and one lady aged from mid twenties to late 40’s re ‘I Really Want To Improve..?’
Gotta say I was surprised verging on shocked – and this is my line of work we’re talking about here.So that’s personal body image ‘compared to what?’
What template or measure are they using to justify a low self score?
And more to the point how bleedin’ realistic is it?
‘Cos if it’s anything like the pics of aspirational lifestyles and looks that are pedaled on social media then odds are much of those are achieved with an invisible support team of personal trainers, shoppers, chefs, personal assistants and nannies. We have no idea of the cost of that look – I mean apart from time and money, are they happy? Really? – or how sustainable it is in the long term if the team downed tools and walked out?
Comparing our inside to their outside is easy – and flawed. Being OK with self to self comparisons? Well, that takes a little more practice – but the smile it produces comes from the inside…and that one sticks.