I recently wrote about our company’s five corporate values and their helpfulness when used in making decisions. Today I want to start a series of posts on each of these five values, addressing how I can live each one personally and professionally. As a reminder, the five values are:
This post focuses on the first value – Inspire Health.
When I was young and continuing all the way up through college, I was the skinniest person I knew. I recall once being held up by my ankles in grade school at my desk by a bigger kid when the teacher was out of the room. I know what it’s like to never be picked for the sports teams in gym class until there is no other choice. I was “invited” to not come back to my Little League baseball team by the coach after a few practices. Even though I was a pretty good shot at basketball from playing quite a bit at my house, the junior high coach did not reward my tryout with the option of playing on the team – a tryout that took every ounce of courage I had.
By high school, some of my closest friends affectionately called me Runt and still do. I knew my strength was academics, not sports, so I have avoided team sports like the plague ever since. When I got married one week after graduating from college, I weighed a measly 113 pounds and embarked on a year of drinking a gallon of milk a day to put on a few pounds. Eventually I took up running in my 40s because it’s something I can do and be proud of, competing against myself while improving my health.
Goodness knows I have enjoyed my share of junk food along the way – burgers, fries, pizza, all things spicy, ice cream, chocolate, and the favorite soft drink of all of us raised in Winchester, Kentucky – Ale-8 – all the usual no-no’s. Being perpetually underweight didn’t exactly deter me from eating what I felt like eating in quantity or quality.
I share all of the above to confess that for most of my life I haven’t been too terribly concerned with health-related matters. It’s rare that I’m sick or experience issues, so there has hardly ever been an imposed reason to be concerned.
But then I went to work almost ten years ago for Humana, a health insurance company, and not just a health insurance company, but one that genuinely cares about people living in a healthy manner, promoting it among employees as well as those they insure. I finally joined a nearby fitness center that was convenient to attend, although I’m not a member currently, preferring to walk/jog/run alone or with my dog for most of my physical activity.
Last summer our company sponsored a 100 Day Dash for employees where I made a commitment and succeeded in averaging 15,000 steps per day for all 100 days, losing 16 pounds in the process and returning to a weight I had been at for many years when I felt my best. I have been at or below that weight every day since last July 26 and I make sure I eat and maintain a level of activity that keeps me at or below that target weight.
I still enjoy an occasional junk meal, but never to excess, and I more frequently choose healthy options when eating out than I did my first 55 years of life. My annual physical results are great as are the annual biometric measurements for work that earns us a lower health insurance cost, and an additional annual assessment for work which last year showed my “Vitality” age to be two years younger than my actual age. All in all, not too bad.
That’s the personal. You may or may not find it inspiring. What about the professional opportunities I have to inspire health?
In my role at work as the community manager for our enterprise social network, I am pleased that health and wellness related topics are the number one topic every week. It is a pleasure to manage a platform that is being used by more than 26,000 employees in part to help improve all aspects of their well-being – health, security, belonging and purpose. While very few of the 7,000+ posts per week are made by me, I choose which few get broadcast in a weekly summary email to all 26,000 people, making sure I include health-related posts regularly, bringing attention to personal success stories and opportunities to improve one’s health.
Also at work, I am responsible for the company’s corporate Twitter account (@Humana) where I make sure that about eight tweets per day go out, the vast majority of which promote health-related well-being. That is another opportunity to extend the message and inspire thousands of others daily to live a healthy lifestyle.
There is still more I need to do for my own health, some of which is captured in my goals for 2013. I’m doing very well on the health-related goals I set for the year and am starting to think about goals for next year such as more gym workouts, and more (and longer) races to run.
I deeply appreciate the regular encouragement, reminders and incentives my company provides for our 44,000 employees to live a healthy lifestyle. I appreciate the regular well-being reports they distribute that inform us how we are progressing as a company regarding associate well-being. I appreciate a President/CEO who models healthy behavior. I enjoy working on the social media team that occasionally participates together in events like races and who daily makes multiple posts across numerous social media sites related to well-being. I am grateful for a host of colleagues who share their struggles and successes on our internal social network. Such sharing opens the conversation, creates a safe place for others to share, and inspires untold thousands in the process.
I may not be the person others think of when they think of the value “Inspire Health,” but in some small ways I know I’m living it and promoting it to others. I look forward to continuing the journey.