Recently I was asked to present to a group of college students the topic of sustainable living from a Tignum perspective. I knew that they were very familiar with the idea of sustainability from an environmental perspective so I wanted to stimulate them to think about sustainability from a human perspective. I apologize for this being so long but I thought it may provide some great nuggets for you too. Below is my rant:
In today’s media the rave is definitely sustainability. Since Al Gore produced the inconvenient truth businesses, and individuals have been challenged on how they can reduce their energy consumption, reduce their carbon emissions, recycle more, consume less, and become more environmentally sustainable. Almost every company has a strategic plan on how to make their brand more “green”. This is great for the reduction of global warming and the aversion of an environmental crisis but it doesn’t necessarily address the inconvenient truth about humans.
Most human beings have extremely poor habits when it comes to their own sustainability. They count on medical discoveries to keep themselves alive longer but they do nothing to improve the quality of the years they have. Even worse, the demands of the business world are growing and this is exponentially increasing the stress that most people are under. When you combine the fact that we are eating more processed foods, moving less, getting more unhealthy, and under more stress you have the perfect recipe for a disaster (maybe even worse than global warming).
Interestingly enough, some of the solutions for global warming are equally beneficial for our own sustainability. If we consumed less food (especially processed and artificial foods) and eat more locally grown organic foods we would reduce the fuel used for transporting foods, we would reduce the need for packaging, we would reduce the use of pesticides and herbicides, we would produce less pollution, and we would produce more local jobs. But we would also improve our energy levels, enhance our resilience, improve our brain performance, expand our capacity to perform at a high level both at work and away from work. Similarly, if we moved our bodies more by walking, riding our bikes, taking the stairs rather than the elevator, etc. we would use less energy, create less energy, burn more calories, improve our health and become more productive.
We live in a time where expectations for performance are low. We have grown to accept mediocrity from the average person because they don’t have the energy, focus, passion or capacity to consistently perform at a high level. This is a crisis. But it’s also a huge opportunity.
For those that make their own sustainable high performance a priority they will be rewarded with a plethora of options. Companies will be competing to get these people because they will be more creative, innovative, productive, and passionate. This is what companies will need to win.
So how can students begin now to invest in their own Sustainable High Performance habits? First, develop a high performance Mindset. That means become solution oriented rather than problem oriented. Quit buying into the drama of rumors and worst case scenarios and start challenging everything to find the truth. Stop settling for imitations and start creating innovations. Be new, be fresh, be passionate and be willing to take a risk. Second, begin eating in a high performance way. Your brain needs the right nutrients to perform its best. You need to keep your blood sugar steady and you need to be sure you are well hydrated. Stop using caffeine as the drug of choice to stay awake and instead use natural organic nutrient dense food to become alive. Stop skipping meals, especially breakfast, and start thinking about what your eating and the way it makes you feel. Eat better, eat more often, but eat less at each meal. Get rid of sugar whenever possible and eliminate high fructose corn syrup from your diet now - its killing you. Third, move more and sit less. Swear off elevators, escalators, and people movers. You were born with a people mover - your legs. Your body was built to move. When you don’t move regularly you are dying - period. Movement creates energy so skip the latte and try the stairs. Exercise is great but you can do less than you think if you just do it every day. Pick something you love like yoga, walking, riding your bike, or a recreational sport. Start looking at your body as something you are going to need for a long time (because you will). Treat it like you own it rather than like you’re just renting it. Finally, be sure to strategically plan for your own rest and recovery. Sleep isn’t a luxury its a necessity. During sleep your hormones get balance, your brain gets renewed, your cells regenerate and your immune system gets strong. Learn to breath because breath connects your mind and your body and is the difference between being alive and being dead (if you don’t believe me stop breathing and see what happens). Take some time to do nothing. Take powernaps every day (no more than 20 minutes). Plan breaks. Laugh often. All of these things help you recover.
If you do these things savagely well you will have more energy, a better resilience, a high performing brain, and an enhanced capacity. You will feel better, perform better, love better and live better. More importantly, you will be the cream of the crop, the golden nugget, and the most sought after commodity in the future. If you don’t believe me, look around. That is what you’re competing with and they don’t look sustainable to me.
By Scott Peltin
Founder & Chief Performance Officer