The Biggest Threat To Your Success

threat to your success

What’s the biggest threat to your success? It’s your health. But wait! Don’t stop reading thinking this is just another, “Eat less, exercise more”  lecture. It’s not, I promise. It’s bigger than that.

Here’s a concept that has stuck with me for a long time:

  • We all have important things we need to do, and;
  • We all have urgent things we need to do.

The problem is that the important things are hardly ever urgent. And urgent always trumps important. We get distracted by the urgent at the expense of the important. For example, your mother is in the hospital and you need to go see her (IMPORTANT). But you also have a big meeting at work that you have to prepare for (URGENT) and there is just no time to make it over to see mom.

Urgent wins again.

Your health is important but it is seldom urgent. No one has to urgently get on the treadmill to exercise, or urgently get their 5 servings of fruits and vegetables today. It’s easy to let it slide.

Matthew Kelly, President of Floyd Consulting and author of The Rhythm of Life, gives seminars all over the world. He often asks people to write down the 4 most important things in their lives. Usually they write things like, God, family, health, friends and work. Then he asks those people to pull out their schedules and show him where they’ve blocked out time for God, family, health and friends. Typically, the only things on the schedule are work related.

“As long as you have your health…”

While I know many successful people who do make their health a priority, I see many more who do not. And that’s a shame because being healthy just isn’t that hard and the benefits are tremendous. Specifically, you get to enjoy your success by living longer and with less pain, illness and all sorts of other problems.

And it’s not just the health benefits. People who appear healthy tend to be more successful. We know from studies that overweight people make a poorer first impression. People gravitate to fit, attractive people. It may not be fair, but it is what it is.

I have interviewed dozens of physicians and authors for my radio show on this subject. Their message is often that if people only knew the benefits of healthy eating and exercise, etc. then we could solve the obesity problem and all the other problems it creates. In other words, it’s an education problem. I disagree.

If you walked in to any fast food restaurant and asked the people eating there if they thought a triple-decker burger, super-sized fries and a 32 oz. soda was a healthy meal, I can’t imagine many, if any, would yes. The message has gotten out. People know about diet and exercise. What they do with that knowledge is their choice. (Yes, I am aware there are certain medical conditions that cause some people to gain weight and conditions that prevent some from exercising however that is not who I am talking about here).

Everyone knows someone who died early. My mother died at 60 and a few years ago I lost a good friend who was only in his 50’s. And he did EVERYTHING to try to stay healthy. I sense that people take these examples of early death and develop a, “When your number’s up – you’re number’s up” mentality. However as tragic as those deaths are, they are relatively rare. What is more likely is you will live long. Modern medicine is pretty good at prolonging life. However, the quality of those later years depends a lot on how well you take care of yourself today.

I was stunned to discover that many of the people who are in nursing homes and assisted living facilities are there NOT because they are sick – but because they can no longer function. They can’t get up out of a chair unassisted or unscrew the lid from the peanut butter jar. So they can’t live alone anymore.

When elderly people in nursing homes participated in a doctor supervised weight training program, it was astonishing how much of their mobility returned – even people in the 90’s! Some of those people, I was told, were able to leave the nursing home and go home. It makes you wonder how people could become so frail and weak in the first place. *

As hard as it may seem to fit in exercise into your life there are two things you might find motivating:

  •  Never have I heard of someone going to the gym or taking a walk or doing some sort of physical activity – and saying afterwards they wish they hadn’t done it. – Never. Everyone loves the “after feeling”.
  • Board certified family physician Dr. Davis Liu says he believes exercise is the “Fountain of Youth.” In his 15+ years as a doctor he says the patients who exercise are consistently the healthiest, happiest and – as they age – can run circles around their contemporaries. He has a patient in his 80’s who has to play tennis with the 50 and 60 year olds because folks his age can’t keep up with him.

While I have made this blog post about health, I am really talking about all the things on your “IMPORTANT” list- whether it is God, family, friends or whatever.  If you don’t move it over to the URGENT list, it will likely never happen. Then consequences follow.

As always, I welcome your comments below in the comment box.

*(Here is a link to the study of elderly people in nursing homes:

photo credit: gaudreaultnormand via photopin cc


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  1. mark nelson says:

    sounds like Stephen Covey (Seven Habits of Highly Successful People) and the four quadrants.
    Important/urgent…. you’re having a stroke
    Important/not urgent… getting healthy
    Not Important/ urgent… the phone is ringing, probably a tele-marketer
    Not Important/ not urgent… your hobby of collecting old records

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