You Can Reliably Deliver Results In Uncertain Situations

8 Steps To Continuous Improvement

In middle age, I was scared healthy as I watched my grandparents die of strokes and heart attacks. As I took my journey to fitness, I’ve become better informed about the links between my lifestyle choices, my health, and my mortality. I’ll use some elements of this journey as a case study for delivering results in uncertain situations, where I had no prior experience. This can serve as a model for any continuous process improvement in one’s personal or professional life.

1. Challenge Yourself With A Worthy Goal

In the infancy of my adult athleticism, I began exercising regularly by riding my bike, and I quickly realized there was no way I would continue doing so 3 or more days a week for the rest of my life: I would die young and overweight if ‘exercising’ or ‘being healthy’ was the only motive. When I added the emphasis of continuous improvement and competition, I set the goal of completing a triathlon, which meant I’d have to become a runner. I was hooked. Key takeaway: I increased the level of difficulty and “exercise” became interesting. I added goal orientation and “exercise” became worthy of continued focus.

Over time, I’ve stayed engaged in the pursuit, completed several triathlons, 5 marathons, and even adventure races where the registration paperwork warns: “YOU MAY DIE”.

2. Make It Interesting

Before middle age, I never liked running, and I certainly never did it. The longest run I recall ever completing was the one mile Presidential Fitness Challenge in 4th grade, which poisoned me as a runner for life. We ran on wet grass, on a cold spring morning, in dress shoes, nice slacks, a button down shirt, and an itchy sweater. I’d never trained for the event or any other running activity. My lungs burned in the cold air, I felt like I was drowning in mucus, I couldn’t finish the full mile running, and I had to return to class in sweaty, wet, uncomfortable, sticky, itchy clothes. Still, decades later I’ve become a runner because I had a bigger goal, behind which was the simple intention of being healthy and fit. I just had to fake myself out and make it interesting before I’d bother.

3. Get Help

Among the first key advice I received as an adult endurance athlete was to identify all the stressors in my life and systematically eliminate them. That led me to address digestive issues that have plagued me since childhood; now I’m regularly and often, surprisingly, complimented for the healthfulness of my whole foods diet. Along the way, because I kept poking and asking questions, I received diagnoses for an autoimmune condition and related vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are notorious for low energy and fatigue. Now I understand the root causes and how to manage them through diet. Eat healthy for better life!

4. Use Data

The quest for more data to support athletic performance, led me to a company, InsideTracker*, that measures my blood markers and recommends dietary and lifestyle changes to address any that aren’t optimal. Over four years, I’ve found and resolved low and high conditions of a handful of markers, which has been particularly satisfying at times when I objectively noticed fatigue or other symptoms whose cause and resolution I didn’t initially understand.

5. Take Action

I’ve also found value in DNAFit, which has delivered diet and exercise recommendations that align well with recommendations made by InsideTracker*. It’s an ongoing lifestyle change to take all the available information and build actions and habits that support those recommendations consistently. The trick is to focus on one thing at a time and stay with it until it’s just what I do, it’s easy, and it naturally fits with everything else. That’s the very basis of continuous improvement.

6. Own The Results

If you aren’t committed to your own success, nobody else will be either. I took ownership, paid attention, did some work, managed what I ate and paid attention to how it made me feel, and the result is I have a far better awareness of what I eat, how I feel, and how my body responds, than I ever imagined possible or believed necessary. The direct connection between my food, my lifestyle, and how I feel, is inexplicable, and was formerly invisible to me. I have control over the quality of my life and my perceived experience, that I never before imagined. The process is fun, because it’s become a game where I can create the result I want. When it doesn’t work as expected, I can explain failure and be accountable for it. I’ve seen continuing improvement, received trophies for high achievement, and made amazing friends.

Sujata and I won age group awards at this 5k race in 2015

7. Enjoy The Journey

Where in your life do you measure results and manage performance? Are you satisfied with the results? If you could have any help or result, what would it be? Are there areas of your life or work where making it interesting and adding goal orientation could improve performance? Share your story and insights.

* You can experience InsideTracker for yourself, and receive a discount using code “THANKSDYLAN” (without the quotation marks). You’ll enjoy insight and control over your health and fitness like never before. As an InsideTracker triathlete, I’ll receive a non-monetary benefit thanks to your purchase. Win-win!

8. Share

Share your advice, information, and referrals below. You’ll be helping people you may never meet. We appreciate your contribution!

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I am committed to a world where:
* People have the lifestyle they want
* Organizations serve their stakeholders
* Communities serve their members
* Relationships work for everyone
* Fun and Growth, Health and Fitness are everywhere

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