Training vs. Working Out | 6 Practices of a Healthy Culture

Three years ago I was fifty pounds heavier than I am now. I altered my diet slightly and learned how my body reacts to different foods. I lost a pound or two per week. My weight dropped but I didn't get any stronger. For that I need to add exercise. I should work out.

So I made the same resolution as millions of people around the world. This is the year I will be more active, grow stronger, and live a healthier lifestyle. To be successful I'll have to make extra trips to the gym. Understand, I'm no athlete. I've always had this policy, run only when chased, and my wife hasn't chased me in years! Treadmill time for me is a mind-numbing exercise in sheer determination. It's why treadmill time for me doesn't last. I exert more energy working up the will to run than I do actually running.

I feel the same about lifting weights. You pick things up. You put them down. It's boring. What I need is a different motivation.

I think I've found it. Instead of working out I've decided to start training. I'm not one for marathons or Mr. Universe competitions. But I do have four kids I love to wrestle with who will, hopefully someday, produce grandchildren I'll want to carry on my shoulders. When that happens I intend to be ready. All these mornings lifting heavy things will be worth it.

Motivation for the treadmill is a bit more challenging. I'll never win a race. My amazing one inch vertical leap will always hinder my mad basketball skills. When running, how can I go from simply working out to training for something that really matters? This is where my vivid imagination and overconsumption of science fiction comes into play. I tell myself, "I'm not working out. I'm training. If I can run just a little further a little faster than the guy next to me I'm certain to survive the zombie apocalypse!"

Crazy, I know. Conveniently, this same line of reasoning applies to bear attacks, hungry dinosaurs, angry mobs, and a great game of tag with the kids.

In your corporate culture there is a subtle yet significant difference between training and working out.

  • One feels like a mission to accomplish. The other, like a status to 'quo.'
  • One feels like energy invested with the high probability of progress. The other, like energy exhausted to justify bureaucratic red-tape.
  • One motivates, moves forward, and builds momentum. The other, maintains.

How do you transform your corporate culture from one that simply works out to one that trains well?

  1. Vision that Inspires - If your vision isn't a little intimidating to you, it may be a little insulting to your team. After all, you've invested hours and dollars finding, equipping, and paying these highly qualified industry professionals. Cast a vision that causes them to need one another and discover the potential that together they can become more.
  2. Meetings that Matter - My dad used to say, "Meetings are an excuse to avoid real work." No one needs another meeting. Real work needs to be done. If you can find another way to make the decision, ask the question or communicate the information, do it. Don't get me wrong. Meetings are necessary. So take the time to make your meetings matter. During the meeting refresh the vision, make the decision, and get back to work!
  3. Enter the Race - You know about S.M.A.R.T. goals - specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-sensitive goals designed to give you short and long-term standards of success. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals with your team. Define where you'll start, finish, and how fast you intend to get there. This should be more than financials and P & L statements. How will your S.M.A.R.T. goals strengthen your team, create value for employees and give clients an amazing experience with an industry defining product? Enter the race.
  4. Make a Mess - I've already said it, I'm no athlete. I don't know much about how to exercise, but I'm learning. Don't let what you don't know or what you can't do stop you from trying. Start. Make a mess. Clean it up. Move forward.
  5. Compete to a Higher Standard - Good is not enough. Industry leader is not the standard. Market share matters, but where do you go when you reach the top? Set a higher standard. Compete against yourself. Don't get discouraged by comparing your behind the scenes footage with everyone else's highlights reel. Set a higher standard.
  6. Celebrate the Win - Recognize every milestone. Talk about the progress you make. When you reach the finish line have a party, pass out bonuses, have a cookie, and enter the next race.

This year, stop working out. Start training for something that matters.


  1. How do you keep your team motivated?
  2. What are your personal and corporate S.M.A.R.T. goals?
  3. How do you train? What are you training for?
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