Never Sit Still (Well, Almost Never)

September 04, 2013 / SCHOOLING YOU

Never Sit Still (Well, Almost Never)

September 04, 2013

Gregg Imamoto ONO Solutions, Managing Partner

Gregg Imamoto is a distressed/turnaround business consultant and executive coach that has worked with Fortune 1000 to start-up organizations.

“Stop moving around. Would you please sit STILL! The more you move around, the longer it’s going to take!” I remember the day as if it were yesterday—not a shot at the doctor’s office or a cavity at the dentist. It was the dreaded family photo.

It’s the 1970s and as a very young (active) boy, I’d like to think almost anyone could relate to my situation. At a time when my main responsibility was to play, eat, then play again, the thought of being still for any given period of time felt punitive—or at least unreasonable. Really, who would care if I was looking at the camera or not? To make matters worse, my mom was compelled to torture me and get a shot with one of my hands clasped together with hers in her lap.

If this photo was simply of my family, or if we could jettison today’s digital technology back into the moment, I think I could’ve made the effort to make this successful. However, this wasn’t just our family—it was THE family: over fifteen people dressed in clothes we normally don’t wear, cramped together under hot lights with powdered faces to eliminate glare from shiny foreheads. I would have rather gotten a shot than try to get “the shot.” With Adobe still being a dream that wouldn’t exist for another decade, the Photoshop of the day was simply taking more photos. If minutes felt like hours and hours felt like days, this was a week. The more I tried to not think about moving, the more I moved. It took F O R E V E R.

Fast forward to today, and through much to the chagrin of my parents and extended family members, I may have actually been the tip of the spear helping all of us avoid the hidden crisis of today—Death by Chair.

We are all living with an epidemic that a majority of us ignore every day. The issue is not that different and actually has a strange correlation to the distressed turnaround work I’ve done over the past twenty years. Sitting still is not good for your business or personal health.

In June of 2011, CNN published an article titled, Sitting For Hours Can Shave Years Off Life. Did you know about this? Neither did I. Thanks to Dr. Tim Brown of IntelliSkin, a technical apparel company that uses Smart Compression, this Newport Beach based company has educated me on the need for movement and improved posture. In summary, the article reported that the American Cancer Society studied 123,216 people’s health outcomes during a 14-year period and found that women who sat for more than six hours a day were approximately 40% more likely to die during the course of the study than those who sat fewer than three hours per day. Men it looks better for us: approximately 20% of us could take the dirt nap during that same period of time. However, we are only talking death here (insert your own variation of the Princess Bride quote, “Never mess with movement when death is on the line).

Other studies have focused on cardiovascular disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes and depression. As you can predict, sitting increased the risk of illness here as well, and it only gets worse. The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study finding people who worked sedentary jobs had almost twice the risk of a specific type of colon cancer. (You may want to stand and read the rest of this post right about now.)

Now some of you may already be thinking, I work out, spend hours doing cardio and strengthening my core. I put my body in awkward positions in searing heat that must help neutralize some of the negative effects of my extended sitting. Well, more bad news for you. Recent research shows that extended sitting, much like smoking, can’t be undone by exercising. Everyone, from the American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, have shifted gears to include guidelines that address not just physical activity, but physical inactivity. Incorporating ergonomic stand-up and treadmill desks in the workplace are on the rise, but nowhere near the norm, and most people are simply not educated in understanding how harmful sitting is to your overall health.

Your business may also be suffering from poor movement and posture. The simple things to help address the problem are usually the things we run right past. So, as difficult as it is to just think about the activity portion for your health, here are five tips for you (and your business) think about regarding the inactive consequences.

1. Stretch

It’s important to get up every half hour for a couple of minutes for some full body stretching and deep breathing. This helps promote circulation and increase your metabolism.

To win, you need to stretch your business. Do you have a compelling purpose and vision that connects to goals and objectives that stretch your business? Not impossible goals, but goals that expand the creative thinking towards accomplishing your company’s purpose and vision.

2. Move

That stiffness and pain you feel after sitting for an extended period of time is a result of your muscles turning off. Take a quick walk around the building or office area every hour or two to get the blood and oxygen flowing.

If businesses didn’t stagnate or get complacent, I might be out of a job. Fortunately (or unfortunately) it’s very common. Businesses plateau and the easiest time for competitors to take your market share is when the target is not moving. Are you thinking about how they might steal your best customer or shave 10% off your market share (think Kodak or Nokia)? They are.

3. Moderation

As Oscar Wilde once said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.” Anything in excess is usually not a good thing. You can sit, but shoot for shorter periods of time and establish a rhythm. At a minimum, be cognizant of the amount of time you’re sitting (driving/meetings) and have an equal plan for the amount of time you should be stretching and moving.

Proper pacing and rhythm in business is critical. Stretch targets and changing a business’ scope cannot be completed tomorrow, so be realistic in setting expectations. Your team(s) will support and work hard to achieve reasonable stretch goals and you’ll be further ahead than if you didn’t set a target. If you’re committed to being unrealistic, be prepared to fail.

4. Flexibility

Be open to trying something new and find ways to improve your muscle imbalances. A physio ball instead of a chair or a stand-up workstation may be a good start, but don’t forget movement. I tried yoga and plyometrics but I love and use it throughout the day.

Be flexible in your strategy and explore the various ways to solve the same problem. Be careful not to marry a mistake and allow for healthy debate and spirited dialogue to pivot the business to a better place.

5. Responsibility

Take ownership over your health, get educated and make the necessary changes. Don’t be a victim. You may have no choice with your commute, but you do not have to sit in every meeting. You can stand, stretch, and move… try it!

It’s amazing the excuses you hear when a company starts to fail. It’s always someone else’s fault. The market shifted, labor was expensive, supply chain cost increased, sales couldn’t sell and manufacturing couldn’t produce on time with good quality—it never changes. The competitors you face don’t care, and they won’t be the same competitors tomorrow. Winners are winners because they take responsibility and embrace accountability.

Gregg Imamoto ONO Solutions, Managing Partner

Gregg Imamoto is a distressed/turnaround business consultant and executive coach that has worked with Fortune 1000 to start-up organizations.

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