I just got a fantastic email from a user and I wanted to share it with you. There is a lot in here, but the first thing I wanted to highlight was that this person got started on PEERtrainer through a weight loss contest at work. As you will read, she is more active in her groups than her co-workers right now.
In answering her question, I pointed to a new team we have started associated with the Weight Loss Bootcamp we are doing. But I would also point out that people go on a journey like this at different paces, and just being there for the co-workers might do the trick. You might also start a team and invite many people into it. The reality is that some will be more active than others.
I also said that we started the daily email program and the coaching calls as an added layer of support. So if your groups lag, PEERtrainer is there to pick up the pace. Here is the email:
"I love Peertrainer!
I signed up with three of my co-workers because we were looking for additional ways to support each other in our weight loss goals. We've had a "Biggest Loser" contest going for the past three months. At the end of each month, we each pay $10 to whoever loses the biggest % of their body weight. We found after two months that the contest itself wasn't enough motivation. None of us were really doing anything to try and lose weight-it was always just luck that someone's weight happened to fluctuate to their advantage the last week of the month. So we talked about different ways that we could support each other through the month, did some research on the internet, and found Peertrainer. We work in different locations, so the online support group environment sounded like a perfect fit for us.
What I thought was going to be just a tool for online food journaling has become so much more to me. I'm signed up for the daily tip email (which I make a point of taking the time to read every day), I called in for all of the Bootcamp conference calls and I plan on signing up for the intensive program. I'm also motivated now to look into Weight Watchers and find other ways to incorporate diet and exercise back
into my life. In the past I've avoided figuring out the cause of my poor eating habits, but now I'm looking forward to taking that journey and fixing it once and for all.
The one thing that I would really like more help with is finding ways to get my co-workers more involved again with our Peertrainer group. Their online journaling has dropped off in the last two weeks...they feel that don't have enough time to keep up their journals. I know that I can't force them to participate, but I would love some ideas about how to get them involved again and how to encourage lots of active participation in our group.
I'm looking forward to a long and successful relationship with Peertrainer.com! Thanks for all you do!"
Weight Loss Ideas For You And Your Co-Workers
That was a great email and prompted some thinking on how to lose weight along with your co-workers. One of the biggest things you can do is really help create a thin culture at work. Simple things like candy dishes can be a huge temptation for people. Keep in mind that everyone has their own downfall, their thing that knocks them off track. Office food, cakes in break rooms, candy dishes from well meaning people- all these things really throw folks for a loop.
Maybe you are an HR person or even a CEO or senior executive. You know how health effects the bottom line in so many ways. Instead of struggling to do expensive and burdensome programs, just start talking to people in the company and ask them specifically if the workplace hinders their weight loss.
Daily logging and journaling works, and so does group support. An online PEERtrainer team can be a great way to get everyone in the same page and help create the culture. And if you are worried about people doing too much internet at work- have the HR and Executive staff join the team as well so they can see the benefit.
Join Weight Watchers Online instead of doing onsite meetings. Most people won't tell you that while they love Weight Watchers, they generally hate doing the meetings at work. People are often embarrassed and sometimes senior people in the company do not want to be on a "level playing field" with others in the company. It can erode their authority in their mind.
So join Weight Watchers Online and then challenge your co-workers to join as well. No matter what you do, remember that the workplace is tilted towards creating pitfalls and so much has to do with corporate culture. Creating an example and leading others in a successful effort to make the workplace healthier is also a great example of showing leadership. And this might end up being a pretty good career move as well. If you show you can control yourself, that you can lead and inspire others- the senior folks are going to notice.
If You Are Active On PEERtrainer You Have Already Started This Leadership Process
As you learn to become a mentor to others, either informally or formally, you will develop a greater mastery of the area of focus. As you teach an idea, the questions that you get will force you to approach an idea from a different perspective. The questions will force you to ask the same questions of yourself. Given how long the journey to health and self-discovery can be, embracing this role might just help to achieve your goals or further refine and clarify them.
Maybe you have started to run and lost some weight. Maybe you have run a 5k, or a 10k- or a marathon. Any level of success can enable you to start working on your mentoring skills. Simply being supportive on PEERtrainer is a great start- you have begun the process of leadership training just by being a group member.
Anything you have done can serve as an incredible inspiration to others. After you have been a member of PEERtrainer for a while, offer to write an article or upload a success story to share your knowledge and experiences with the others in the community. You never know how the simplest story can help motivate another. Reading an informative article from someone like Joel Fuhrman can improve your knowledge dramatically. But people need to know that people "just like them" can and have done something. Often it is the most motivating thing in the world for them.
How To Become A Great Mentor or Leader: Some Basic Concepts
If you want to begin to think about or prepare for a more formal role as a leader of any sort, start to think about how you have interacted with people on PEERtrainer. What has worked, what hasn't? The following is a very rough outline of some of the basic principles of leadership. The framework is modeled after the work of Stephen Denning
All sorts of people teach leadership, but what is amazing is how the basic principles are usually very similar. Basic character traits like respect, understanding, and being a good role model and listener
are all important. Learning to empower and inspire, things people do routinely on PEERtrainer are essential to the basics of leadership. Here is a list of some more ideas, a specific sequence to follow to get people to actually act in their own interest. Something that is often very very difficult.
"Why Won't You Just Listen To Me?!"
Telling someone to do something has an uncanny knack of not working. Sometimes you have to show not tell. And sometimes you have to trick them!!! If someone believes something firmly, trying to reason with them may only lead to them digging in deeper and questioning your authority as a leader or motivator. This is called "confirmation bias", where people hear an opposing argument or something they don't want to hear and assume something is wrong with the source. This is a classic psychological phenomenon.
So when you start working with people or interacting with people in your groups and teams, gauge the people you are with and try and avoid triggering confirmation bias in people who may not be open to an idea. Generally great leaders seek to understand before they seek to be understood. (This is one Stephen Covey's 7 Habits)
Avoid analyzing the problem and then recommending a solution. This is what everyone does, and it fails to work in an overwhelming manner. When people are open to getting information, this can work. But you need to really test and see if someone is truly open. That test is pretty simple- if the person responds enthusiastically and does it, you are in business. If they gently question the idea- keep working to understand them and making them feel understood to preserve the communication channel. Remember the context- getting people to change a behavior is extremely difficult.
Get Attention First
Learn to get people's attention first. Unless they are listening, there is little point to communication. An online peer mentoring system like PEERtrainer is ideal for this, because you can say something in a probing manner and then the comment sits out there in the screen. People can't get around it and you have a little more margin of error. Asking a lot of questions before giving any advice is generally a great start. It will get them to respond, and do so that might trigger some helpful emotions. You can then start to identify their triggers. You may find people want to talk about the negative stuff, things that you can then use as reasons to do something.
Find The Motivation And Provide Inspiration
After you have their attention, then you can focus on a desire to act. And these are two distinctly different things. The negative stuff gets people's attention, but people tend to go for positive goals. This is where motivational skill comes in. People don't take new actions just to be healthy. But they might to fit into a pair of old jeans, to look hot for a guy or girl, to make more money. Yes, the changes you help them make might extend their life twenty years and improve the quality of it massively. But has to be connected to the stuff that taps into their burning desires.
Stories work to provide motivation incredibly well. Your personal journey of success on PEERtrainer, in all its gory detail will most likely inspire in a very effective manner. People can relate to it as long as you are like them. This is the Weight Watchers group leader model. Most of their leaders have been successful on the WW program, and as a result have a huge amount of authority to lead and be listened to. Never underestimate how the smallest success can be inspiring to others.
Reinforce With Motivation and Support
After the motivation kicks in, and goals have been identified, now comes the really hard work! You have to successfully keep people going and on track. This is finally the part where reason kicks in, where people will listen to well reasoned suggestions that reinforce the mission and evolving personal narrative. Remember to keep in mind that you are helping change not just someone's habits, you are changing many surrounding and related behaviors.
This is a potentially very powerful and important role you are playing in someone's life. You need to communicate to someone their potential, and do so in a manner that they can really begin to visualize it. Getting someone to believe in their potential, their worth and their voice in a clear and sustainable manner is the height of leadership.
It is likely that this is a tough approach to grasp at first because it inverts our traditional sense of structure and hierarchy, especially the part of using logic and reason as the last step of the communication process. People naturally resist forms of authority, but they are very open to a peer to peer framework or one where they truly feel listened to in a coopertative and communicative manner. Even people at the top of small or large organizations can embrace this approach. The great ones usually do.