A Difficult Message To Hear

A Difficult Message To Hear

I grew up in Kent, by the seaside. My mother, working long hours in the City to earn a crust for the family, was away from home most days. Consequently I was very close to my maternal grandmother, Ivy, who ran our seaside family business. Literally chief cook and bottle washer.

Ivy’s one vice, and pleasure, was cigarettes. Even then, her doctor regularly told her she needed to cut down or give up, lest her fragile health get worse.

Of course, like most people advised to change their lifestyle to something more healthy, she ignored the advice. After all, she had been smoking with little observable ill-effect for thirty years already,

Later on in life, when the family business (a guest house) was but a fond and distant memory, she retired from being a cook. Not long into retirement, and when I was working in Munich, she fell gravely ill. The tobacco had finally caught up with her. I flew home to be at her hospice bedside. After a mercifully brief but very distressing illness, she died there, of the cancer, aged 81 years.

Doctors Know This

In terms of health and long life, doctors are forever advising us to change our lifestyle – permanently.

“I think most people are put off by the fact that what we usually promote is life-long change”

~ Robyn A. Osborn, RD, PhD, dietician and psychologist

People need to feel that the benefits of changing their behavior will outweigh the costs, Osborn says. For many people, the psychological cost of giving up their current unhealthy lifestyle seems too great. So they opt for the “quick fix”.

For example, people may not think about whether a weight-loss plan touted by an attractive celebrity is healthy or logical. They just like the way he or she looks and they’d like to look like that, too.

“Maybe that’s one of our problems as nutrition health professionals, because we so much focus on the long-term health consequences rather than how you look. We would prefer that people are comfortable with the way they look but they’re more concerned with their health.”

~ Lisa Dorfman, RD, dietician and mental health counsellor

And there’s no getting away from the difficult message – if we want to be healthy, we have to change our lifestyle. And that implies changing how we see ourselves, and our relationships with the world.

So It Is With Business

And so it it with business. If we want to have a healthy business, company or organisation, we have to change our lifestyles. And that implies changing how we see ourselves, and our relationships with the world.

That is a hard message to hear. And even harder to act on. People die rather than change. Every day. So what chance we’ll act when something less than our personal health, our life, is at stake?

No matter how far-fetched, faddish ideas continue to appeal to business folks. We are very much intrigued by those things that seem to demystify the whole thing – there’s some magic pixie dust, or some new wonder method that others have been claiming to get great results with. That has to be it. It couldn’t be something as simple as “I need to see things differently and change how I relate to myself and others”.

My gran was the world to me, and with her passing I died a little. Every time I see folks go for the easy “fix” rather than the difficult message, the self-change, I remember her, and I die a little more, too.

– Bob

  1. That’s brilliant that, I love stories with a message.

  2. Hi Bob,

    per my twitter re-tweet, this really is a stand out article. I’ve shared this at work as I think it has real relevance to our transformation.

    I have copied in the mail I sent

    the link below is worth following


    Bob Marshall is a very talented man that writes entertaining, informative and intriguing posts (yes I’m a fan of his work).

    I thought this blog particularly relevant within the context of transformation. It is a short blog, very powerful, excellent message.”

    Looking forward to more of your writing.

    Paul (@beaglesays)

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