Non-Negotiables: “Are they really?”
Two years ago a 15-inch snowstorm showed me how horribly out of shape I was. I needed four shifts to shovel my driveway. The same day, a friend had a massive heart attack after shoveling his driveway. When we got another foot of snow six days later, it was time to shovel the driveway again. But remembering my friend’s heart attack, my wife forbade me to shovel. So I hired it done; but I decided that after nine months of trying to lose weight on my own – and gaining rather than losing – I was ready to reconsider my non-negotiables.
Non-negotiables, whether in our personal or business life, are the things we have determined we will not give up or go back on. Nine months prior to that snowstorm, I was given the phone number of a former Missouri state representative who had designed a fitness program for an obese man. That man lost more than 200 pounds and went off all the medications he had taken before the fitness program. But when I inquired about the program, I was told that I could not eat pasta, potatoes, rice or bread – and that the change in my eating habits would have to be permanent.
Nine months before the snowstorm, I told that man that I was an Italian and pasta was a big deal to me. In my mind not eating pasta or eating pasta was non-negotiable. After all, pasta was a part of my heritage, a part of all of our major family gatherings, and family meant everything to me. He said it didn’t matter. I couldn’t eat pasta on his program. I refused to negotiate my non-negotiable and tried to get healthy on my own, until the snowstorm woke me up. It is humbling for me to say publicly, but I was up to 318 pounds and was miserable.
After the snowstorm, 22 months ago, I had to decide whether my pasta really couldn’t be separated from my family. I had to decide whether I was going to spend time on a treadmill to fitness or keep on what had become my own unhealthy treadmill. Because my family means so much to me – five children and 15 grandchildren – I knew that I had much to live for. I didn’t want to leave them because I was unwilling to negotiate my non-negotiable.
I needed a crisis of fitness before I would rethink what was really non-negotiable in my life. I also needed an informed, outside perspective to look in and guide me toward better health. That is similar to what I do as a member of FreshXperts, part of a team advising produce industry businesses, providing an informed perspective that may even help a business negotiate what was once thought non-negotiable in order to achieve success.
I signed onto the program and lost 90 pounds in 11 months. Over the last 11 months I’ve maintained that loss. I’m ready for the next snowstorm. More important, I’m ready to be here, as healthy and as long as possible, for my family. And that is non-negotiable.
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