Business Lessons Found in Whole30

The Whole30 is a lifestyle change to eating that is getting a lot of attention lately.  You may know some friends that have done the Whole30 and may even be thinking of doing it yourself.  I’m going to stay away from a lot of the specifics about the “re-set diet” – sparing you the details of how hungry I was and all the planning – and instead share some themes and lessons that apply to business.

First things first – if you don’t know what the Whole30 is, it’s a way of re-starting your body and cleansing it over the course of 30 days.  And even though I did it (sorta – I’ll get to that later) I’m still not a pro.  Here’s the basics: you cannot eat lentils, dairy, sugar, alcohol, grains, or soy.  What can you eat?! Meats (without sugar processed in them), vegetables, fruits, nuts, eggs, etc.  There are actually a lot of things you can make but it requires an extraordinary amount of planning.  I learned a lot about reading food labels and had to make new things I’ve never even heard of before.  I also felt a lot better and when I started to eat gluten and soy again I got my morning headaches again.  I thought they were just there until I had my coffee.  Turns out they were a reaction to the food I was eating!  But several things came up along my 30 day journey that I’ve also experienced in the business world.  They occur really with everything we do and I thought it was worth sharing.

  1. There will always be people who question your intentions and also always be people who cheer you on – no matter what.  I started my “Holy30” March 1st to coincide with the beginning of Lent.  I usually skip giving something up because it usually ends up being an excuse to go on a diet.  (And no money or time spent actually feeding the hungry.)  But this year I decided that this would be part of my Lenten journey.  And that was one of the reasons I gave my friends when they asked, “Why are you doing that?!  I hope it’s not to lose weight – you don’t need to lose any weight!”  My friends who asked why I was doing this weren’t being mean – they seriously wanted to know my reasons.  But it reminded me about some business decisions that I’ve made and I got the same questions from people.  There will be people who question your intentions – it doesn’t matter.  In business we all get judged for mistakes we’ve made or missed opportunities.  We also get support from the same friends and colleagues because of, and despite what we accomplish.  We need to just “do our thing” and not worry about the opinions of others.
  2. Know your “Why” and make it strong enough to sustain you.  I’ll admit that my “why” wasn’t strong enough but I did have several reasons I wanted to do the Whole30.  Health benefits.  Lenten journey.  Always wanted to try it.  Set short-term goals again.  But my reasons weren’t completely inspirational.  I don’t have any major health reasons to eat such a restrictive diet.  Lent is 40 days and I was already cutting it short with the 30.  So when I looked at the homemade chocolate chip cookie on Day 22, and took “just a bite of the chocolate” that spiraled into eating the entire cookie, plus another cookie, a flour tortilla with my tacos instead of lettuce wrap, dessert, protein bar, and two glasses of wine.  Yikes!  (I really was so tired of being hungry all the time!!) My “why” wasn’t strong enough, and this happens a lot in business.  We need to know why the next promotion is important. We need to have reasons that justify the work, the rejection, and the inconvenient hours sometimes.  I once was told that if your “why” doesn’t make you cry, it’s not strong enough.  Whoa! And while I’m eating gluten-free and soy free because of the headaches I now get from it, I did not finish my Whole30.  And it’s okay.  (I did donate money to Food for the Poor though.  Guilty concious always gives money.)  If your “why” isn’t strong enough in business, its okay to find something else or dig deeper to find that reason that will motivate you to do your best.  I had accountability partners (they tried their best for me!), and its critical to have them in business.  Seek out partners and mentors and it will make all the difference.
  3. You don’t need to be perfect to try.  We have increased stress in our digital world.  In my business, promotions and good news are all over the place online.  It’s easy to look at others and think they are perfect and doing great and avoid even trying because I might look bad.  There is only 1 person that can be number one.  I’m a recovering perfectionist and can safely say that I don’t care about being the best anymore.  Or even being perfect.  No one looks good when they start anything and we all have our own journey.  But how many people avoid even trying something until they have “100% of the facts” or over think things and wait until they are sure they will do well?  Just jump in and figure it out!  I decided Tuesday night that I would do the Whole30 Wednesday morning.  I made several mistakes off the bat but kept going…well, until day 22 – then I kinda walked to the finish line.  I wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t quit either.  I was honest on my journey.  I try to do what I should about 90% of the time in my personal and professional life.  And even though I didn’t do this “the way it should have been done” I think I got what I needed to out of it, and realized a few things that will help with business.


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