Living in the Real World

Scripture of the Week – Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Today we’re talking about how to live in the real world by staying grounded in reality because this ultimately helps you remain ruthlessly proficient at business so you can reach your goals.  

Have you ever experienced a time when you took several actions or made decisions on a foundation of facts that turned out to be fundamentally wrong? Josh (The Consultant) was once leading a product market fit exercise for a client. The product was a device for pre- and post- joint replacement surgery. It was a simple, effective tool that came with a device strapped to a patient’s leg and exercises on a tablet showing an avatar of the patient in real-time as they completed the exercises. It made complete sense because higher rates of patients doing their exercises led to incredibly improved outcomes, happier patients and lower costs – the elusive triple threat in healthcare. 

However, after extensive conversations with dozens of hospitals across the country, we found that the joint replacement programs fell into one of two problematic categories. On the one hand, high functioning/best practice programs had dedicated nurses to engage patients and frequently follow up with them – in other words using our device/software to alert them to patients who were not doing their exercises was of little marginal value to their bundled payment contracts or quality incentives. On the other hand, low functioning programs were so poorly resourced, no one had time or responsibility to check-in with patients who our systems flagged as not doing their exercises. While there was an excellent fit with the patient experience, the upside down economics of healthcare rendered the device/software irrelevant because patients would not pay for it and provider teams were not going to use it. We were certainly disappointed and our client, who had already invested a considerable sum in product development, was devastated. 

Product market fit is one of several areas which can cause us to deal with harsh reality. Many times in business, family or our community, it is very easy to base decisions and conclusions on our limited experience, values or other factors which may be mis-aligned with reality. Our encouragement to you if you have felt this before or are struggling to find reality in relation to your business, family or other dimensions of your life is to start small and prove one basic truth at a time before you over-invest thousands (or more) of dollars or other precious resources in pursuit of an idea. And stay humble – ready to pivot based on what reality reveals. 

Another personal, more fun example, training for a running race is an awesome check of reality because the watch does not lie. Last year, Josh was trying to train for a 10K. He had successfully just completed a 5K season where he recorded a personal best and was pumped to take it to the next level. He invested considerable money into a tracking tool to monitor his body’s data and adapted an aggressive training plan from a well known coach. By the time he reached the first race, it was right after Christmas and particularly icy so difficult to get a good read on time. Coming into the second race and 12 weeks into the season, Josh was convinced he had made considerable improvement in his overall fitness, endurance and most importantly, times. However, by the end of the first mile, it appeared things were not as they seemed. As Josh finished the race, the painful reality set in – after running up to 40 miles per week and pounding his body for twelve weeks, he had not improved at all! It was a very painful realization.  

What did he miss along the way? It took several months to figure it out but in hindsight, he ignored all the data telling him that he was training too many miles at too fast of paces. Instead of listening to the science from the training plan, he ran even harder when he felt up to it – working the wrong systems. Instead of listening to the science related to the data from his body, he pushed even harder. Basically he peaked too soon (maybe in weeks 4-6 based on the data), burned out and his body started going backwards because of his body’s inability to adapt to the strain. 

Lesson here? When we don’t pay attention to reality, eventually it will smack us right where it hurts!! Our ego!

These stories are examples to encourage you that we all face challenges of keeping our grasp of reality and there are times, no matter our best efforts, we will mis-read or mis-diagnose particular issues and when reality hits, it can be heartbreaking.   

Here’s a simple example learned from a counselor which can help when we’re feeling anxious, uncertain or disconnected from reality. It’s called 5-4-3-2-1. Anytime your mind starts racing or the pit of my stomach feels somewhat disconnected, stop what you are doing and ground yourself in the very real world around you. 

  • 5 things you see (e.g. chair, book, light, people, cup)
  • 4 things you hear (e.g. cars, bird, talking, fan)
  • 3 things you feel (e.g. paper, keyboard, coat)
  • 2 things you smell (e.g. coffee, cookie)
  • 1 thing you taste (e.g. gum)

Stopping to do these five things can help anyone move more calmly through the day having taken the time to see the real, analog world right around us. 

What are some ways The Consultant and The Coach help their clients with reality? 

The Consultant

  • Work with a CEO and executive team to refresh their process and outcomes metrics to ensure their efforts give clear indication of success or failure
  • Work with leadership teams to determine their ‘leap-of-faith’ assumptions or what must absolutely be true to either continue in their current business or when building new products or services such that they can confirm reality or disprove it and pivot to a more lucrative opportunity. 

The Coach

  • Work with the CEO to help them develop their own personal development plan and how their work aligns with their long-term future
  • Provide coaching to CEO, Board or other executives that focuses their development on maintaining a grounding in reality 

Thanks everyone! We hope this gives you some tips on how to live in the real world and stay ahead of your competitors because of your ruthless, disciplined commitment to real success. 

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