Doctor’s Orders

Andrew ScrubsI recently read that 80% of U.S. adults do not meet federal recommendations for aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening exercise. In other words, they’re out of shape. Sadly, I’m one of them.

Now, before you get the wrong idea; I’m not a total couch potato. I spend a lot of time outdoors through my involvement with the Boy Scouts. In fact, my son Alex and I are about to leave town for a two week backpacking trip in the mountains of northern New Mexico. But unfortunately, I don’t get out as often as I’d like (or need) to. And the closest I get to regular aerobic exercise is watching “The Biggest Loser” with a bowl of ice cream in my lap.

I’m not happy with the way I look or feel – haven’t been in a long time. Just like most of the other people making up the 80% in the opening statistic, I know what to do. I’ve just lacked the motivation to do anything about it. Sometimes I ask myself “What will it take for me to change? Perhaps if a doctor were to deliver some bad news, it would inspire me to get serious.” Well last month I got my wish.

One minute, I was conducting a webinar. The next, I was doubled over in pain. It got worse and worse until I finally went to the local walk-in clinic. After a number of tests and a trip to the emergency room for a CT scan, I was diagnosed with kidney stones. I was treated with intravenous fluids and pain medication. If you know anything about kidney stones, you know they’re not life-threatening, but cause a great deal of pain. Furthermore, they can be symptomatic of larger health problems.

My doctor shared that I was at risk for additional kidney stones and suggested I make some changes in my diet and level of activity. Nothing he suggested was new to me. But thanks to the pain I’d just gone through, I committed myself to acting differently going forward. I’ve been drinking more water, watching what I eat and moving more – not rocket science; just simple actions I’ve known about all along.

Sometimes we have to receive some bad news before we make even the most simple changes. Operational tweaks, management priorities, even basic acts of customer service – they’re all easy to ignore, overlook or put off. But in the face of negative feedback, the basics take on a renewed sense of importance.

Earlier this year, I helped an organization develop a set of Customer Experience Standards. The standards outline basic expectations regarding how customers and coworkers are to be treated. Nothing included is revolutionary. In fact, most of the document is common sense – many employees even complained about the simplistic nature of the contents. As a result, some chose to ignore them or assumed they were covered.

About a month ago, they introduced a customer feedback survey and the results began pouring in. As you can imagine, some of the feedback was negative. Time will tell if the pain of negative feedback is enough to finally motivate them to action.

How do you react to bad news?

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