Thank You Fitbit!

I’m going to confess something in public right now. I’m obsessed. Ever since I got a Fitbit in August 2013, I’ve become more and more a slave to this device. I started with the basic unit and upgraded to the top-of-the-line Surge as soon as it came on the market. I created a spreadsheet on which I record my daily step count and miles walked (think I’m a little OCD?). Early on, when traveling if I found myself short of hitting my step goal, I would walk hotel hallways and stairwells until the Fitbit buzzed my achievement. More recently I continued to push for higher and higher daily step counts – 20,000, then 25,000, then 30,000. At this point in time I average 20,000 to 21,000 steps each day. I’ll park my car in the farthest reaches of the parking lot to get more steps. It’s comically absurd the lengths I’ll go to increase my step count.

Walking has been mostly a beneficial experience for me. Fortunately I picked something healthy over which to obsess. Along with eating properly, walking has enabled me to lose a lot of weight. It’s great to get outside in the fresh air and I tend to listen to a wide range of podcasts and some terrific music. I guess I’m glad that I didn’t choose to obsess over an ultra-expensive hobby or something riskier like sky diving or helicopter skiing.

However, the fact remains that walking is still an obsession for me. So I started to wonder how I might channel this persistent fixation. And I’ve finally decided that walking 20,000 steps each day is probably sufficient. I don’t need to try and push my average to 25,000 or even 30,000 – though I’ve actually contemplated both of these goals. I know that my personality is such that I will always obsess over something. It might as well be something even more productive than walking. Thus, I started a process to discover a new obsession.

Intentionally searching for an obsession is more than a bit bizarre. But I knew that I wanted to settle on something profound. Then I had an epiphany. One of our corporate core values is Customer Fulfillment – We Strive to Exceed Our Customers’ Expectations. Why not focus my obsessive energy on Customer Fulfillment? This notion began to resonate with me and I became excited over the possibilities. The challenge is to keep from having an artificial mindset about this. My obsession over walking is totally natural – can my obsession about Customer Fulfillment be just as natural? I resolved to make it so.

It is a fascinating experience to consciously and purposefully channel one obsession into another. I’ve only been doing it for a few months. But every time I walk, I find myself thinking about Customer Fulfillment. Ideas flow freely during these twice daily wanderings. Many notes are made on my phone to be fleshed out later. I’m now adding some podcasts with a customer-centric flair for my listening pleasure. Walking has become the trigger for the focus on this new obsession. I think this is the real key. If we want to channel an obsession into something productive, a trigger of some sort is needed. It also needs to become a daily practice. If I only walked three or four times each week the trigger effect would be less pronounced and I doubt that I would be able to transfer the walking obsession into that of Customer Fulfillment. I’m not going to stop walking, but now I ‘m inspired to walk for a different reason.

Obsessions can often be destructive. Fortunately there is a way to channel them into productive endeavors if we resolve to do so. Thank you Fitbit!

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.


Batter Up

Question: I am very competitive and want to win in the worst way. It depresses me when I lose. Are these feelings healthy?

Answer: The world is more competitive than ever before. Companies are competing for customers. Individuals are competing for jobs, promotions, more compensation, better assignments – it never ends. And yes . . . competition is healthy. It makes us better at what we do. It makes us stronger, tougher and more innovative. But this can only happen if we are willing to embrace competition in a positive and constructive way.

How do we embrace competition and why would we want to? It comes down to something I mention quite often – mindset. We can either fear and resent competition, or we can view it as an opportunity for growth. And we know that fear and resentment are negative energy. How then can we win with negative energy? Instead, we can look at competition with an attitude of what we can learn. Moreover, we should take the opportunity to accentuate our strengths and shore up our weaknesses.  

I used to obsess over the competition. I would incessantly study the win-loss records of our competition and try and figure out their every move. When they won and I lost, it was devastating and I would move through a series of emotions from second-guessing myself to believing that they somehow cheated. Finally at some point I realized that I was so focused on the competition that I was failing to focus on my own performance. Could this have been the reason they were winning and I was not? Going forward I opted to create a game plan that was different and began to focus on executing that game plan to perfection. I stopped obsessing about the competition because it was apparent that I was giving away my power when I did so.

As a kid I loved to play baseball. I can still hear the coaches drilling the words, “keep your eye on the ball” into my brain. The analogy certainly fits in a competitive context. Fixating on my competitor causes me to take my eye off the ball. When I watch the pitch, I hit home runs. Today the only reason I watch the competition is to find something I can use constructively to incorporate into my own game plan. And then I hit even more home runs. Batter up.  

This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.