Conditioning

I have been haunted by this intractable, plaintive cry of employers:

“We can’t retain employees –

some leaving after only a day on the job!”

Landscaper

 After spending 3 hours a day on several very modest landscaping projects at our new, down-sized house, I think I finally GET IT!   I would not, personally, last more than half-a-day in a REAL landscaping job!   I’m totally not CONDITIONED for it! 

POINT OF REFERENCE: Athletes who run marathons don’t do marathons the day after they sign up.   It takes at least six months of “conditioning” for someone already in “decent” shape to build up the stamina and associated physiology to handle a marathon.

But physical/physiological conditioning is not the only challenge here.  It’s as much MENTAL conditioning, it’s PSYCHOLOGICAL conditioning, its ATTITUDE conditioning, it’s LIFESTYLE conditioning, it’s the ability to FOCUS, it’s HABIT and ROUTINE conditioning, and it’s EXPERIENCE conditioning – continually expanding the tool kit of “Hard” and “Soft” and Translatable Skills to handle the load.

NOTE: Top tier athletes are much more efficient in energy expenditure than “Weekend Warriors”.   They can operate at peak performance for much longer duration with less effort, and they are more RESILIENT – they recover much more quickly.   It’s all in the CONDITIONING!

 Now to the really important part: Whatever your current job, you’re not only tasked with continual “conditioning” to carry out your current responsibilities, but also to launch you into your NEXT job.   We’re “conditioning” ourselves for sustainable plus advancing engagement.  For job retention in the face of furloughs (ouch!)  For salary increases.  For promotions.  For training and supervising others.   For potential changes in careers.

Or maybe this is the really important part: We need to keep CONDITIONING ourselves for LIFE!

One of my favorite tag lines for ERTIA UNLIMITED is:

“Life is a HARD HAT enterprise!”

Conditioning is the front end of what I call “Capacitization” … the acquisition of increased capacity for whatever life is going to throw at us.

How do you DO that?   Where would we start?  (See also “Visioning Miscellaneous”)

  1. EXERCISE: Whatever ELSE you do for conditioning, blood has to flow!  MOVE!  Get animated.
  2. CENTER DOWN: Take stock of what’s important TO YOU, what “floats your boat”. Who or what inspires you?   Clarify your VALUES, your PRINCIPLES, your ASPIRATIONS.  Build a DREAM big enough to carry you through Hell-fire and brimstone!
  3. VISUALIZE: Where is it you want/need to be going & what do you need to make it happen?
  4. MAKE A LIST: Get used to laying down bricks on the “Yellow Brick Road” to your Dreams … and consult and edit/update it often.
  5. IDENTIFY STRENGTHS: What do you do particularly well?  What time of day are you most productive?  Where’s your best work space?   Where do you need to improve?
  6. GET ORGANIZED: It saves time, reduces frustration, helps in “transitioning” between projects and activities, and provides a sense of control.  Eliminate potential DISTRACTIONS and BAD CHOICES.   And change all your “default” settings.
  7. Practice TRANSCENDENCE: Invoke EXECUTIVE FUNCTION to rise above trite and trivial matters, ignoring “bright shiny objects”, and practicing DELAYED GRATIFICATION. NOTE: There are certain things one should not do at certain times, and certain things one should not do altogether.   INTERNALIZE this fact, and act accordingly!
  8. Get Used to FUNCTIONING OFF BALANCE and out of your COMFORT ZONE.
  9. TANK UP YOUR KNOWLEDGE BASE: Read career-related / job-related postings and publications; join a network of knowledgeable colleagues; get mentoring and ask a knowledgeable leader about key resources to digest; join a professional association in your field (yes, go ahead and pay the dues!). NOTE: Knowledge of sports statistics or video game tricks or sit-com personnel or tabloid fodder or facts about actors and actresses is of no use to your advancement in life!
  10. “WEAPONIZE” YOUR DREAM: Acquire and indulge motivational resources; explore TED talks in your field(s) of interest; advance your communication skills (both written and verbal); become eminently RESOURCEFUL in broadening your understanding and carrying forward your mission; show INITIATIVE; be as HELPABLE as possible. Be CREATIVE!  Be ACCOUNTABLE.
  11. PERSIST: Develop the FORTITUDE and DISCIPLINE to keep going, to dig deeper and to shoulder an increasing load. Cull out DISTRACTIONS!  Become adept at creative PROBLEM SOLVING.
  12. Include SELF-CARE: Turn off the TV and social media, eat healthy (you may have to develop a “taste” for stuff that is “good for you” rather than defaulting to “comfort foods”), get reasonable rest, cultivate affirming relationships, EXERCISE, and enjoy a hobby.
  13. Change the Default Settings for UNSCHEDULED TIME: What do you do “automatically” when nothing urgent or compelling is pressuring you? NOTE: There is no such thing as “Free Time”!   This is where being organized (#6) and making a list (#4) will become helpful.  If nothing else, use unscheduled time to CENTER DOWN (#2), VISUALIZE (#3) or EXERCISE (#1)!  This is where EXECUTIVE FUNCTION and SELF-DISCIPLINE are most needed.
  14. Redefine WINNING: “Winning” is notseeing how much you can get away with”. It’s doing stuff you DON’T HAVE TO DO when you DON’T HAVE TO DO IT.  It’s choosing an apple to eat instead of a donut.   It’s doing your homework instead of playing video games.  It’s making your bed! (See # 17).  It’s definitively marking the big and important stuff off your list.
  15. GET CONNECTED: Your ability to cultivate productive and energizing relationships and associations will help guide and accelerate your development and progression. (See #8).   NOTE: It’s not all about “Who You Know”.  It’s more about who knows YOU and WHAT YOU CAN DO (provided that you can do useful and interesting stuff!) that keeps you engaged, adds to the richness of life, and makes advancement possible.   Become exceptionally useful!
  16. Become a perpetual student of HOW LIFE WORKS: Discover and ingrain WHAT WORKS and abstain from WHAT DOESN’T.  Helpful here (see #10) are TED TALKS, mentors, biographies, and carefully selected blogs.  (NOTE: “Conspiracy Theories” and “Echo Chambers” are not particularly helpful here.)    Do JOURNALING!  When you figure something out, write it down.
  17. Watch this: Admiral William H. McRaven, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esoQKkFQoIQ

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