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Passion, People and Principles

An Overweight Consultant Practices What He Preaches

post # 503 — February 19, 2008 — a Strategy and the Fat Smoker post

Douglas Hamilton, of Concentris Limited, contributed this:

Fat Smokers? Figuratively and literally, I definitely know a few of these individuals! I am pleased to say I have recommended your paper and book to them.

I received a request recently to deliver some ‘strategy training’ for a group of Directors. There were alarm bells sounding in my head when I heard this, for a variety of reasons; as is my wont, off I went to do some research before offering an opinion. I was familiar with your earlier material on the professional services firm, and co-incidentally had seen an online advert for the ‘Fat Smoker’

It summarises very well what I have been trying to put across to these clients for some time – strategy is delivered through everyday specific behaviours. As I pointed out to the clients, it often involves a ‘lightbulb’ moment before this becomes clear, and the way to get it instilled as part of the organisation was by coaching the right behaviour amongst the staff.

Actually, I had mastered this myself as few years back when trying to lose weight. Identifying and tracking out the right behaviour was delivered by two means. First off, by describing the two behaviours needed; eating less than 1500 calories / day, and secondly carrying out three periods of 20 minutes exercise per week. One point per day for the eating, three points per week for the exercise, therefore a potential of ten points per week, and a leading behaviour which was easy to score.

The chart was posted on the fridge – instantly labelling me as ‘sad’ in the eyes of the family – and I weighed myself every week to check the trailing result. There were mini–reinforcements for each week I had scored well, and an overall one of looking better, feeling better, praise from my wife / family etc.

Coincidentally, I was also using this example of behaviour change throughout the period in question, with a group of clients. Every fortnight, I had to post my weight loss chart in front of the clients. Talk about consequences of practicing what you preach!

But it worked; I have put some weight back on, but am still about 14 lb lighter than when I started off originally. The spreadsheet tells the story, I hope. Note the mid season slump in behaviours – I wouldn’t have known to change unless I had measured them.

Now, whenever I consult on behaviour change, I use this example. It tells a story far more powerfully than any bald theory.

Best wishes to you, and keep up the excellent work

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