Although this Provision moves on in our series to talk about flexibility and balance, it actually goes to the core of how to succeed in life. What’s good for the body is good for the soul and for the pocketbook. In fact, what we do with our body sets the stage for everything else. Read on to learn to more about the connection between health and life.
If you have been reading this newsletter for any length of time, then you know that I am using the newsletter to develop my thoughts for a new book titled, “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Coaching and Profound Provisions for the Trek of Life.”
After some early discussion about Benjamin Franklin as an early American role model of health, wealth, and wisdom, we began our current in-depth discussion of health. What inspires, creates, and sustains health? I have entertained, explored, and experimented with that question for the past five years.
The importance of that question came home to me again this past week, as Thomas Leonard, one of the founders and true creative geniuses of the modern coaching movement, died from a heart attack at the age of 45. Fortunately, Thomas’ legacy will live on for many years in the institutions he helped to create, most notably Coach U, the International Coach Federation, and CoachVille. Unfortunately, Thomas will no longer be able to enjoy the fruit of his labors. Why did this happen now? Why did this happen at all?
If you ask my 90-year-old uncle, he will tell you there was nothing Thomas could have done to change his destiny. More than once, I’ve heard my uncle profess his belief that the day of our death is set from the day we are born. This thought is at once comforting and disturbing. On this basis, there’s nothing we can do either to screw up or to improve our chances. Therefore, we may as well enjoy our life as long as God gives us life to enjoy.
I, for one, profess a different view. I believe that the time of our death is influenced by the time of our life. Notice the play on words. I am using “time” in two different senses. By “the time of our death”, I am speaking in chronological time • the date on the calendar. By “the time of our life”, I am speaking in ontological time • our quality of being.
If we are overweight, sleep poorly, seldom exercise, and stress out over our personal, family, and business relationships, then our life will be shorter and far less enjoyable than if we get those things right. As Thomas Leonard himself once observed, “Needs do not cease to be because they are ignored.” (The Portable Coach, 1998)
What I have discovered about health can be summarized in one sentence: If we want to be healthy, it takes endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance. Those attributes are not just descriptions of the four types of exercises. They are descriptions of what we need to be successful in every area of life.
* Do you want to be successful in business? It will take endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance.
* Do you want to be successful as a parent? It will take endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance.
* Do you want to be successful as an entrepreneur? It will take endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance.
* Do you want to be successful as an artist? It will take endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance.
* Do you want to be successful in an investor? It will take endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance.
* Do you want to be successful in love? It will take endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance.
By now, you get the idea. We are talking here about four fundamental qualities of being, each of which have to be mastered if we want to be successful in life. The fact that these qualities represent four distinct classes of exercise suggests a profound insight which under girds my entire book: the body can take the lead in showing us the way to go.
Many self-help books talk about the importance of positive thinking and having the right attitude. That’s fine, as far as it goes. However, I believe it’s even more important to have positive practices and the right habits. What we do with our body not only improves our chances of being healthy, it also improves our chances of being successful in every other area of life as well. The more we know about endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance through direct physical experience • through our body • the more we will know about these critical traits, all the way around.
Unfortunately, many people end up hooked on one type of exercise to the exclusion of the others. I know runners who never lift or stretch. I know lifters who never run or balance. They just do what they do, and then wonder why they never rise to optimum levels of performance and success.
Don’t let that happen to you. Develop routines in all four areas and practice them regularly. Last week I wrote about specific strategies for endurance exercises, four days a week, and strength exercises, three days a week. Here I want to talk about flexibility and balance exercises, which are best done a little before and a lot after other exercises, once your muscles are warm and full of blood.
Stretching exercises take two forms: dynamic and static. Neither one represents tough, jerky, and painful extensions of your muscle tissue. If a stretch hurts, then you’re doing it wrong (there’s a life lesson here).
Dynamic stretches are done with easy, smooth, and pleasurable movements of the muscle tissue. Tasso Spanos, a certified muscle therapist, has developed an extensive repertoire of dynamic stretches that include funny walking steps as well as the utilization of chairs and mats for the upper body. You can get some sense of how this works by reading an article from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reproduced at http://www.centerforpaintreatment.com/Post-Gazette-121102.html.
Static stretches are more familiar, as you gently lean into a position until you feel a slight stretch and then hold for about 30 seconds. The reason that Spanos doesn’t like static stretches is because people often hurt themselves by pushing too hard and holding the stretch too long. Don’t do that! Yoga, with its coordination of stretching and breathing, is one way to avoid such problems. It’s easy to find yoga classes in just about every community, but you can also get tapes or books if you want to go it alone. A classic book on static stretching by Bob Anderson, simply titled Stretching, is still one of the best. I recommend it highly.
Balance exercises develop strength as well coordination. They become ever more important as we grow older, since the inner ear loses elasticity, nerves lose sensitivity, muscles lose tone, and reflexes slow. Fortunately, there are many enjoyable forms of balance exercises such as ballroom dancing and Tai Chi. There are also very simple exercises, that can be practiced just about anywhere. Trying to think through a problem at work? Don’t just sit at your desk and ponder. Stand up, next to your chair, and shift your weight from one foot to the other. Hold on to the chair if you need support. Dip down on each leg and rise back up. The more you practice, the better you will get.
In my book, these and many more exercises will be spelled out in detail. For now, it’s enough to have a sense of what they are and of how important it is to do them regularly. Positive thinking about exercise is not enough. One has to practice exercise, daily, in order to receive not only the health benefits, but also the ancillary benefits in other areas of life. Let your body be your guide and you will soon reap an abundance of health, wealth, and wisdom.
To reply to this Provision, use our Feedback Form. To talk with us about coaching or consulting services for yourself or your organization, Email Us or use our Contact Form on the Web for a complimentary coaching session.
LifeTrek Readers’ Forum (selected feedback from the past week)
Editor’s Note: The LifeTrek Readers’ Forum contains selections from the comments and materials sent in each week by the readers of LifeTrek Provisions. They do not necessarily reflect the perspective of LifeTrek Coaching International. To submit your comment, use our Feedback Formor Email Bob.
This is truly a beneficial, life-enhancing newsletter, and I intend to read it consistently and apply the wisdom and practical knowledge LifeTrek offers. Thank you so much.
I am all about more exercise, less TV. But I do believe there is some great information on television. For example, yesterday morning I watched Meet the Press and then followed that with “Coming to America”. I often use TV as a mind release, but I am working on finding other ways of letting go.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC
President, LifeTrek Coaching International, www.LifeTrekCoaching.com
CEO & Co-Founder, Center for School Transformation, www.SchoolTransformation.com
Immediate Past President, International Association of Coaching, www.CertifiedCoach.org
Author, Evocative Coaching: Transforming Schools One Conversation at a Time, Online Retailers
Address: 121 Will Scarlet Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23185-5043
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