The Transforming Power of Cadence
In 1961 Jean Nidetch had a big problem.
She was a compulsive, closet eater and she was 72 pounds overweight. To make matters worse, she was frustrated, felt like she had hit rock bottom and felt like she was out of ideas.
The diets she tried would help her lose weight for a little while, but they did not break the habit of binge eating so the weight would return.
Jean was a fighter and she was committed to finding a solution. As a result, Jean came up with what she thought was her last hope. This idea required a support group to help her.
The program was simple enough: Set a big goal and break the big goal down into smaller monthly goals.
She also built a plan based around the daily disciplines of managing her calories consumed versus calories burned, and the discipline of tracking these data points plus her weight in a journal every day.
Her support group agreed to meet weekly to weigh-in and share ideas and results.
Jean developed a weekly and monthly cadence of personal and team accountability which leveraged the camaraderie, team spirit and competitiveness that comes from being a part of a healthy tribe.
As you might imagine, the results came fast. Jean shed those 72 pounds.
In 1963, she founded Weight Watchers. The program was so successful that in 1968 she eclipsed 5 million customers and in 1978 she sold Weight Watchers to H.J. Heinz for $71 million.
Why did results come quickly for Jean under this program, as they have for countless others since? Was the diet the key or was it the cadence of accountability?
Obviously, diet was a factor…but she had tried diets before. I believe the cadence of accountability is what made the difference.
Jean understood what Aristotle said more than 2,000 year ago when he said, “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
If you are like most leaders, there are some bad habits you would like to eliminate and replace with new habits for you and your team.
Let’s dissect how Jean created new habits and explore how a consistent cadence can help your team transform performance.
One Big SMARTY Goal
Jean had a specific outcome she was committed to achieving. One big goal allows a person to focus.
“The great majority of people are “wandering generalities” rather than “meaningful specifics”. ~ Zig Ziglar
A specific goal allows your mind to focus on the resources needed to make the goal a reality. It is not a lack of resources that limits our accomplishments, rather it is usually a lack of resourcefulness. By focusing on one big goal we maximize the opportunity to tap into our resourcefulness.
Jean had ONE BIG SMARTY GOAL of losing 72 pounds. By breaking that goal into a very manageable six pounds per month she could gain and retain a line-of-sight to its achievement while getting immediate feedback about how well her strategy was working.
You can do the same thing with your business goals: evaluating smaller goals within shorter time frames allows you to identify obstacles, celebrate victories and determine effectiveness while there is still time to adjust if necessary.
One Big SMARTY Goal supported by smaller goals allows you to track a simple scoreboard that will tell you whether you are on-track or off-track with your goal. Scoreboards can serve as a visual motivator inspiring you and the team to break through.
This is the key in any habit breaking program.
Success is in the daily routine.
Short and long term goals are heavily influenced by your daily routine. Your daily routine should be comprised of activities that are within your direct control and have a high degree of influence on your goals.
You can use the daily routine to develop new habits, break old habits and create the discipline necessary to achieve higher levels of success. When building a daily routine consider actions you take and behaviors that reinforce the habits you want to develop.
For example, exercise and food consumption are actions that a person can control that highly correlate to weight loss goals. However, an intentional behavior that will reinforce positive habits is the act of writing down calories consumed, exercise exerted and measuring weight daily.
The fitness trackers such as FitBit, Garmin and Apple Watch are good examples. These devices empower individuals concerned with their health by tracking statistics about activities that will lead to better health. However, experts believe the greatest health benefit might be the awareness gained by looking at the data every day.
What new disciplines can you and your team implement that will correlate to high performance levels?
Think about your goals and then ask, what actions do I need to consistently take to ensure we meet these goals?
The last component is the cadence of accountability. Jean built a weekly and monthly cadence into her program. She developed a discipline of logging results, reflecting on what was working and what was not working and then making small adjustments to her approach. This discipline was the key to breaking through and creating transformation.
How can you implement this cadence with your goals? What habits must be created within your team to achieve the results you seek? What habits must be broken? What’s working? What’s not?
If you don’t develop the cadence of accountability, individually and corporately, you won’t know if you are on track until it’s too late to make the necessary adjustments. But if you can develop this cadence, you can spot the problem areas while there’s still time to recover, you will identify the actions that are making a positive difference, and you’ll build on the energy of celebrating small victories sooner.
Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection, will come even more effective action.” ~ Peter Drucker
Stay committed to your goal, but allow for flexibility in your approach. It is important to try to new approaches and to have a scoreboard system in place to tell quickly whether the daily routine is working.
Jean had a monthly weight loss target. She also had a daily routine that she believed would help her achieve her goal. If the daily disciplines were not delivering the results she wanted she could change her routine while staying committed to the goal.
What will you do differently today to develop this cadence of accountability in your team?
Write your goals in cement while writing your strategy in sand.
Ready to overcome the lack of clarity, energy and ownership in your team? Ready to have productive meetings and increased ownership? Would you like to solve a problem once rather than over and over? Find out more about Cadence Leadership and stop wasting valuable time and energy in an ineffective activity cycle.