How Are We NOT Being Human In The Workplace? (Part 4 of 4)

You made it and thank you for sticking with me on this journey to explore what it REALLY means to be HUMAN… in the workplace. I mean, you ARE a human so that’s a good start.

In Part 1 (here), I set the stage and discussed how our BASIC physical needs ARE being met.

In Part 2 (here), I went on to discuss how our BASIC mental needs, by and large, are ALSO being met.

In Part 3 (here), I tackled the question of BASIC spiritual needs. I know, pretty daring right, but not really when it doesn’t have to have anything to do with God or religion.

So, let’s dig into Part 4, the KEY ingredient that continues to elude us and our humanity.

When all is said and done, I believe the gross negligence that is occurring in the workplace and the primary reason why so many people FEEL de-humanized is because they’re not being nurtured emotionally.

Emotional = Need is NOT Met

To be human is to feel. Human emotion is a basic and fundamental part of who we are and how we exist. To deny our emotions is to deny our humanity. And when we do deny them, Whoa-Nelly, it causes a myriad of problems! (Kind of like what we’re experiencing in the workplace, right?)

Since the industrial revolution, and probably long before, we have been training emotions out of people. Emotions and feelings are often considered a weakness and a liability when, in reality, they are a strength and asset, especially when honed.

For far too long humans have been denying other humans their need to experience their emotions through their feelings. Of course, there is a time and way to do this effectively and that’s where the subject of Emotional Intelligence (Bravo!) comes into play but before we even begin to manage our emotions we first need to learn how to “experience” and “honor” our emotions, especially the “negative” ones. If we’re grossly ignoring our emotions and suppressing our feelings then there’s nothing to “manage”.

“Our ability to give and receive love, connection, and a sense of belonging is what nurtures our emotional health.”

How often does a “human” employee not feel heard, valued, or like they even matter in their workplace or to their boss?

How often are we fearful at work? What are we afraid of? Are we afraid of the building collapsing? Are we afraid of being trampled by a herd of buffalo? Are we afraid of not being able to create a budget, an engineering drawing, or a marketing campaign?

More likely, we’re afraid of being shamed, judged, neglected, or rejected for our ideas, opinions, proposals, or for disagreeing with someone who could take your job away (which trickles down to your ability to maintain shelter and food, a.k.a. a basic physical need for survival).

What it means to “be human” is to honor our feelings and emotional states and nurture rather than attack each other (and ourselves) emotionally.

What it means to “be human” is to know, understand, appreciate, and value each other in a way so we know, for certain, we matter. Have your ideas every been ignored or dismissed without having a chance to explore them? If so, then that’s a pretty clear indication that what you were offering didn’t matter. The message we receive is, “you don’t matter.” And damn, that hurts!

The more we get to know and understand each other the more we find opportunities for rapport and connection. And with connection comes love and a real sense of belonging.

We’re already ALL humans at work. We’re all physically existing and mentally performing a job that matters to us at our core and spirit.

What we’re missing at work is feeling truly heard & valued, connected & loved, and that lack of EMOTIONAL nurturing is the HUMAN element we so desperately need. THAT is why, I believe, there are so many global movements happening to make the “workplace more human”.

If ALL of us humans can put even a little effort into really hearing, seeing, valuing, and just getting to know each other, as people first, it’ll go a LONG way toward making the workplace more “human” and I predict we’ll experience the behavioral benefits in very short order.

Thank you so much for going on this journey with me. I hope it’s resonated with you and perhaps enough so that you’ll share it with the people who matter to you.

Cheers to you and EVERY PART of your humanity!

Link to Part 1 | Link to Part 2 | Link to Part 3

How Are We NOT Being Human In The Workplace? (Part 3 of 4)

Thanks for sticking with me on this adventure of what I believe it means to be human in the workplace. It’s a funny topic right, afterall, if you’re reading this you ARE FULLY human! Congratulations!

So far, I’ve covered that most people are 1) physically (Part 1 here) and 2) mentally (Part 2 here) capable to function effectively in the workplace. We humans are doing it right! What’s next?

In recent years there’s been a lot of talk, especially in the Workplace Wellness community, about purpose. Personally, I’m a big fan of purpose because I believe that IS what nurtures us at our core, our essence, our soul, who we are… as a “human”, and the “spirit” that drives each of us in life. Our purpose nurtures us spiritually and once again, I believe this need is fairly well met for most employed humans.

I make this claim because, generally speaking, a person will apply to a job that means something to them. If it matters to you then it’s nurturing your core, your spirit. A person can choose from a myriad of employment options and while many people may not like their job is it the job or the environment (e.g. their boss)?

Now, the salaried or “professional” jobs are easy to see how they nurture our spirit. Most require a level of education, training, or experience which requires motivation and time to achieve. If it didn’t matter to you, deep down, then I believe it’s unlikely you’d jump through the hoops and “get the job you wanted” to nurture you at your core.

However, I believe a similar argument can be made even for hourly-wage employment that may not require the investment of education or experience. Even so, a human can choose to work fast-food at McDonald’s or serve coffee at Starbucks. They can choose to wash cars or clean houses. The point is, whatever job a person DOES choose to apply for I believe it’s fair to say they chose that job because something about it mattered to them. There’s a reason why a human chooses working as a cashier at a grocery store, a clothing store, or a car wash. In some way, that particular job or industry fulfills their purpose and is nurturing their spirit.

Spiritual = Need is Met

So, what’s left?

Stay tuned for Part 4 of 4 of “How Are We NOT Being Human In The Workplace?”.

Link to Part 1 | Link to Part 2 | Link to Part 4

How Are We NOT Being Human In The Workplace? (Part 2 of 4)

Have you read Part 1 – here? I hope so because there I set the stage for what this “being human in the workplace” could be all about.

In summary, I covered that our basic, HUMAN physical needs ARE being met. We are alive and getting around so let’s move on!

I’m going to go out on another limb and say, “I believe our mental needs, in the workplace, are MOSTLY being met.” First, it is unlikely a human will be hired for a job if they were evaluated, during the hiring process, as being incapable of doing that job. The hiring manager, therefore, recognizes your mental ability to 1) do the job and 2) follow whatever instructions they provide to do the job.

Now, there are times when a human may struggle to do a job they once were mentally capable of doing. I believe that can happen when a person is overwhelmed or overworked, perhaps even to the degree of being burned out and they simply cannot muster the mental fortitude to perform that job any longer or, at least, until their brain can have a rest from overdoing the thinking requirements, whether big or small, of the job.

However, even if a person is completely burned out at their job, they are likely functioning fairly well outside of work. They’re still able to commute, feed, bathe and dress themselves, take care of kids, use their phone, drive their car, etc. Thankfully, at least their entire mental abilities have not been compromised but it can happen, for sure.

Mental = Need is Met

We’re halfway there!

Stay tuned for Part 3 of 4 of “How Are We NOT Being Human In The Workplace?”.

Link to Part 1 | Link to Part 3 | Link to Part 4

How Are We NOT Being Human In The Workplace? (Part 1 of 4)

I don’t know about you but the only employees I’ve ever worked with have been people. That is to say, everyone has been human.

Therefore, if every employee has been a human being than how is the workplace NOT being human? Why is there such a push lately to have a “more human” workplace? What does that even mean?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the various movements occurring worldwide to have “a more ‘human’ ” workplace but given a workplace is comprised of humans hasn’t the mission already been accomplished? Or, perhaps this is a preemptive measure to avoid being taken over by robots and AI. Hrmmm…

All the employees I’ve ever known are walking, talking, thinking, solving, complaining, backstabbing, berating, creating, and the list goes on of the “human” things everyone is already doing.

So, HOW are “people” NOT being human”?

Until we truly define this idea of what it means to “be human”, given that we ALL are ALREADY human, then I venture to say we’ll be spinning our wheels and never get anywhere.

For that reason, I’d like to make an attempt at what I believe this wonderful movement, which I fully support, is really all about.

Being the 100% “human” that I am, I love to categorize, group, generalize and simplify. It’s served me well for the past five decades so I’ll continue.

When it comes to the workplace, or life, if our basic needs are met then we tend to function quite well. It’s when those needs are NOT met we begin to struggle and it typically presents in our behaviors. Perhaps then, some basic HUMAN need is not being met in the workplace? What could it be?

I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “I believe our physical needs, in the workplace, are being met.” In 2018, the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics reported that 97% of US workers DO work their required hours each week. In other words, people are physically able to get to work. That’s really all we need to know; physically we’re capable of working.

Physical = Need is Met

Thanks for joining along as we’re just getting started.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of 4 of “How Are We NOT Being Human In The Workplace?”.

Link to Part 2 | Link to Part 3 | Link to Part 4

Alex’s Suicide Note – He’s Telling Us Why But Are We Listening?

The rate of death by suicide continues to increase and especially in the United States. Family and friends are too often lost as to how or why this act could possibly happen. I believe the reason a person chooses suicide is really not as complicated as we might choose to believe or rationalize.

In most instances, I do not believe suicide has anything to do with mental illness or someone just being “crazy”. I don’t make this statement lightly; I’ve been thinking hard about this topic for nearly 20 years. It may hurt to hear this but it’ll hurt much worse to actually lose someone who matters to you.

Alex Hagen was a 19-year old college student who made a conscious and thoughtful decision to end his life. We are fortunate that Alex left behind his suicide note and if we listen, REALLY listen, maybe we can learn how to ease the pain of someone WE love.

Attached is my analysis and interpretation of Alex’s words and where his pain is rooted for which he saw no other option than ending his life. Imagine what kind of pain he must have been experiencing. Was it physical, mental or emotional pain that drove his action?

Click the link below to open the pdf in a new window or download the pdf file to your device. (No email or other information is required to view.)

World Peace Is Finally Possible

Reading Time: 5 minutes


World Peace

The idea of World Peace sounds beautiful and isn’t it the dream of most people on our planet? I remember watching beauty pageants in the 1970s and the contestants almost always ended their interviews with a goal of “World Peace”. Unfortunately, did anyone take them seriously? Did they even think it was possible? Or, was it simply “lip service” because it’s a nice idea but nobody really believes it is possible?

“I believe World Peace IS possible and I believe it can happen within two generations.”

The reality is, humans have simply not been capable of World Peace because it was not until quite recently, in mankind’s 200,000 year history, that our basic needs for existence have been met consistently. Even as few as 150 years ago humans could not reliably source or preserve food.

Simply surviving a winter, a natural disaster such as a hurricane, tornado, earthquake, or an attack by a wild animal was not guaranteed in the late 1800s or early 1900s. Our basic survival was being tested daily so the opportunity to live peacefully and actually THRIVE was virtually impossible.

However, for the past 50 years or so, humans have been able to exist, sort of. But, even in 2018, 80% of the world’s population does not have enough food or water in a given day. Therefore, humanity’s basic needs to exist are actually still not being met. If so many people are still unable to meet their needs to exist then how can they possibly meet their human need for love, belonging and connection? In other words, our emotional needs and emotional health.

Still, I believe of the 20% of people who are able to meet their basic needs to exist a large subset can begin to truly nurture the next critical need, their emotional health. And that subset can make a significant difference toward World Peace.

Why is Emotional Health So important?

Humans are struggling significantly today. We struggle daily with conflict and destructive behaviors. We fight wars over land and personal beliefs and we are killing each other. We fight wars to “show our power” over another. Why and to what end? Do we need to show power in order to exist? Or, do we need to show power in order to compensate for something else such as not feeling important, valued or like we matter?

Humans are self-destructing at an astonishing rate. It seems we are actually going backwards in life expectancy while the human race does continue to grow. Sadly, most of us are struggling with some kind of self-destructive behavior even if we don’t realize it.

It has become the norm to drink alcohol several times a week after work or binge on the weekends and many people struggle with alcohol abuse. Similarly, drug addiction continues to be on the rise and the opioid epidemic is out of control. Sexual assault is occurring in nearly every industry and gun violence, especially in the US, is practically a weekly occurrence. Depression/suicide and anxiety are seeing record numbers and the medications seem to only mask the problem and not address its root cause. While many of you will disagree, the root cause of most behaviors are NOT genetic or mental. (Afterall, people used to believe doctors were transferring “morbid poison” from dissected corpses to birthing mothers until handwashing became common practice in 1850. [Source] Many ideas we used to believe as “fact” have later been proven to not be true at all.)

The truth is, humans will do anything to avoid pain. The pain being experienced is not physical, it’s not mental either but actually emotional. When a person doesn’t FEEL truly loved, connected and have a sense of belonging they will do anything to compensate for that pain.

“Humans will choose, consciously or subconsciously, behaviors in order to meet, suppress, deflect, mask or otherwise NOT FEEL their emotional pain.”

Ask any drug addict, self-harm practicer or obsessive eater why they do so and they can probably tell you.

What nurtures emotional health more than anything else (or hurts it) is our relationships and connections. Until only the past several decades have humans even needed to be concerned about emotional health because their primary concern was simply to exist. Now, many of us are existing yet we and most other humans are self-destructing and certainly not thriving.

If enough people can love and support each other, and this happens in small, personal groups, then we will no longer need to compensate for our emotional pain or trauma. We will no longer self-destruct through our behaviors and we will actually participate in more constructive behaviors.

When enough people, and I don’t know how many that is, are constructively behaving then our self-destruction will be limited and the opportunity to thrive will increase. When enough of the world’s population is having their emotional needs met then they will behave more constructively and we will have less conflict and war.

“The more emotionally healthy each person is the less destructive they will be to themselves and others and when enough people are behaving this way then mankind will achieve World Peace.”

The Next Two Generations

As a middle-aged man, if my kids’ emotional needs and health are nurtured then their behaviors will be more constructive. They, in turn, will teach this to their kids (my grandkids) who will also be more emotionally healthy. At this point, my generation will be close to ending and what is left is my kids’ generation (Generation 1) and grandkids’ generation (Generation 2). If enough of my grandkids’ generation is emotionally healthy and not behaving destructively then THEY could be the generation where World Peace begins to take hold.

The next two generations, behaving more constructively, will help nurture others and their collective emotional health will spread. It can spread fast because emotional health is fairly quick to have a positive impact and even more people will thrive and thrive faster.

World Peace is finally possible and it can be accomplished within two generations if we start now. We need only begin to authentically connect by truly hearing, valuing and supporting each other. With love, connection and belonging, humans are exceptional animals and we must be there for each other, unconditionally and in return others will be there for us.

#peace #love #connect

Please consider “sharing” this post and at the least “Like” and “Comment” because the more people who know and understand what is needed for World Peace the better chance we’ll have of achieving it.

Kevin R. Strauss, M.E. is a biomedical engineer/problem solver (70+ patents) turned wellness specialist focusing on emotional health. In his off-hours, he is a 17-year Ironman Triathlete and Coach passionate about fitness and nutrition. Contact Kevin at, or 240-398-7228.

Tendinitis and Joint Pain – The Cure Doctors and Physical Therapists Don’t Know

Reading Time: 9 minutes
Joint Pain & Tendinitis

If you’re an athlete, you’ve probably struggled with some kind of injury that did not result from a traumatic event.

  • Do you suffer from some kind of tendinitis?
  • Do you hear yourself making excuses like, “I can’t run because I have bad knees.”
  • Do you struggle with plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, Runner’s Knee, any unexplained knee pain, hip pain, been diagnosed with a hip labral tear or have other hip pain?
  • What about carpal tunnel syndrome, Tennis Elbow or poor range of motion or other shoulder pain?

Every joint, even those in your back and spine, can flare up and cause pain and grief. When we’re in pain and we can’t take it anymore we go to the doctor and if we’re not prescribed a host of anti-inflammatory drugs or given injections of cortisone we’ll be told to rest and “try” a full round of physical therapy. But really you’re just masking or ignoring the problem hoping something will change. Hey, maybe it will!

What Do the Doctors and PTs Tell Us?

  • Well, we’re probably told we have muscle weakness or muscle imbalance.
  • We may be told we have poor biomechanics.
  • We’re likely told we have an “overuse” injury, maybe a stress fracture (with no clear indication) and we’re at the risk or have developed arthritis even in your 20s or 30s or teens!
  • We’re probably scared into taking at least 8 weeks of rest and ice or else we’ll risk a catastrophic injury requiring surgery… and nobody wants surgery especially when it’s not a guaranteed cure.

My Background and Disclaimer

First, I am not a doctor, PT or healthcare practitioner of any kind. If you choose to give the following advice a try, do so at your own risk. You know your body better than anyone else so it’s up to you to make the best decisions for yourself.

Second, I am a 17-year Ironman Triathlete & Coach. Full Disclosure: I am 17-years “basically” injury free. I have never missed a season due to injury. I, like most athletes, have my regular aches and pains and it was from a bout of Achilles Tendinitis in 2010 and much before then that I figured out how to help myself and now many others.

Third, I am also a Biomedical Engineer and while my focus now is Wellness and Emotional Health, I still have a keen understanding of body mechanics, bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments, etc. That’s how I’ve been named as an inventor on more than 70 patents and 10 publications.

What’s Really Going On?

Here is what I believe is happening and how you can fix it YOURSELF.

I believe the root cause of your issue is tight and knotted-up muscle fibers. I don’t mean tight like you need to stretch more. I mean tight like “tightened up” and cannot elongate but I prefer the term “knotted”. What I mean is your muscle has knotted-up fibers that cannot glide and elongate as needed. Further, since the muscle is partially knotted-up (and likely in more than one place) then it cannot fully “fire” or “activate” or “contract” which is why it presents as weakness. Weakness is the symptom your doctor and PT focus on which is why they prescribe strengthening. The problem actually is that your muscle is only firing at 80%, 70% or some lesser amount which means you cannot achieve a full contraction. A less than 100% contraction compared to the other side “appears” as weakness. It is not.

Strengthening is all well and good but what you’re really doing is building the muscle around the knot(s) which are then “compensating” for the knotted-up area that cannot fire. You’re actually not weak.

Anecdotal Side-Story… and I could share many more

I was once coaching a first-time marathon runner who came to me for training but also had been suffering from hip pain. She had been diligently going to PT for 9 months with no improvement and still had to take Aleve for pain management before even a 3-mile run. My athlete was black, about 5’8’’ and 160 lbs. with a flat stomach and a stereotypical booty. She was told her glutes were weak. Are you kidding me?!?! She was the same size as me albeit proportioned a little differently. Her glutes were NOT weak. They were knotted-up. Two weeks on my program and she was running pain free and off pain medication.

The Detailed Explanation

Weakness is not the problem but knotted-up muscle fibers are. When this happens, the muscle cannot fully fire or elongate, as needed. When it cannot elongate or lengthen, it pulls on the next piece of anatomy which is the tendon. Tendons only have a certain Range Of Motion (ROM) and when reached they really don’t want to elongate any further. If you try then it could rupture and then you WILL need surgery.

The tendon, being pulled more than what is possible, reacts by resisting and becoming inflamed. That is your body saying, “No, stop doing this to me!”. The inflamed tendon is now your “tendinitis”. WAA, waa. Of course, we athletes are all about pushing ourselves so we keep on exercising and what happens next, well, the tendon begins to “pull out” of its insertion site. OUCH!!! There is your “pain generator”! This is where the tendon attaches to your bone and it’s typically around a joint. Now, your joint begins to inflame which is also known as arthritis. And, this is why your joint hurts.

Typical allopathic medicine will focus on the symptom and tell you about your arthritis and tendinitis but in reality the problem is in your muscle. Note: If you suffer from arthritis I would also recommend giving the treatment below a try.

The Treatment for Tendonitis and Joint Pain

“Your remedy is to ‘work out’ and eliminate the knots.”

Since the root cause of the pain problem is knotted-up muscle fibers then your remedy is to “work out” and eliminate the knots. There is a lot of talk about myofascial release and how the problem is actually a fascial issue and while this may also be true, I still believe the bigger issue is muscular and often deep inside the muscle.

If you can afford it, get as many professional massages as possible and tell them about your issue. If you cannot afford daily massages (like me) then I would recommend foam rolling or other self-massage devices. Rollers and the like have been around for a while and it’s wonderful to see them gain in popularity. Unfortunately, I believe most people are still using them incorrectly.

Curing Joint Pain and Tendinitis – Rolling and Self-Massage Specifics

Here’s the regiment I used for my Achilles Tendinitis after being told by a marathon running podiatrist and surgeon that I MUST rest for 8-weeks and then, very slowly, ease back into running. Following my own plan, I was running again inside of 3 weeks and was able to ramp up quickly…. using caution, of course. The following routine I did 2x/day and then continued to maintain but not as aggressively. All told, I’ve been rolling for nearly two decades!

1. Warm your muscles (e.g. a heating pad or hot bath/shower for 15 minutes)

a. Warm muscles are much more pliable and soft and allow you to roll deeper.

2. Aggressively roll your muscles (Don’t hurt yourself. It should “hurt so good”.)

a. Ok, it’s going to hurt, probably A LOT. Do what you can. The goal is so when you do roll it DOES NOT hurt and that’s when you’ll know your muscles are un-knotted. It’s a nice goal to strive for, right? When I first started rolling my quads I couldn’t only use 50% body weight due to pain. After a week of daily rolling, I could use 100% body weight.

b. The key here is your muscle should be FULLY relaxed and NOT flexed when rolling. This is where people get it wrong all of the time and especially on the quads and glutes.

c. Issue –> Muscle

i. Plantar Fasciitis or Achilles Tendinitis –> calf, soleus and entire back of lower leg

ii. Knee Pain –> Quadricep. Lateral knee pain –> lateral quad. Medial knee pain –> medial quad. Runners Knee –> top of quad. And so on…

iii. Hip Pain –> Glutes. This is a difficult muscle to get in deep so I recommend doing this standing with a lacrosse ball between your butt and the wall. Make sure no weight is on the leg/glute you are rolling.

iv. Carpal Tunnel / Tennis Elbow / hands –> forearms. Try this standing with your arm against your body and pressed against the roller which is in contact with the wall.

v. Shoulder –> try your back near your armpit, lats and neck.

vi. Neck –> often times this pain develops from a knot in your back such as your lats or trapezius muscles.

d. I started by rolling 15 minutes per muscle (so that’s 30 minutes just for my lower legs). But in my opinion, it’s better than surgery, drugs or wasting all of the time/money going to PT.

e. The key to rolling is frequency rather than intensity. So, do it more often for less time and intensity but go as long and hard as you can without hurting yourself.

3. Next, some VERY light stretching.

a. Keep in mind that in more than 200 studies, stretching has NEVER been shown to prevent injury. I believe rolling can prevent and cure injury (and I have 17 years to prove it.) However, I do believe stretching is excellent for dexterity and speed-of-movement plus it just feels really good.

4. Finally, a little anti-inflammatory, all-natural balm on the inflamed tendon and muscle knot(s).

a. Most balms such as Ben Gay, Tiger Balm, Mineral Ice, etc. only use menthol as their active ingredient. This feels good for about 5 minutes. I prefer Hammer Balm by Hammer Nutrition (I do not receive any incentive to mention this product.)

Rolling out the knotted muscles is also known at Trigger Points. I learned a lot about rolling from and that’s where I first learned about rolling from a small advertisement in the back of Triathlete Magazine back in 2003 or so.

We’ve been taught for decades R.I.C.E. and while I’m a fan of ice therapy (especially for an acutely inflamed joint or right after a big, hot workout) I would absolutely NOT recommend icing your muscles, in this situation. Your goal here is also to increase the blood flow to the muscle and not constrict it with ice.


I hope I’ve provided an alternative understanding of your painful joints and tendinitis issues AND a way to remedy this issue WITHOUT a doctor, PT, time or money. You still need to do the work but I can tell you I’ve helped dozens and dozens of people overcome their “injury” in a matter of days or weeks.

I also believe this kind of therapy, or something similar, could be an incredible remedy for people suffering from arthritis of all kinds. I would love to do some research if anyone is interested in collaborating. In the meantime, do the experiment for yourself and give it a try. You can go easy at first and at your own pace.

  • If you have any questions, I’d be happy to hear from you.
  • If you find this information valuable then I am happy to accept any monetary donation or payment you feel is suitable but certainly there is no obligation. Afterall, I’ve already told you everything… what’s it worth to you?
  • If you would like me to teach a rolling class at your organization or club or privately, contact me and we can arrange a fee-based class.

One Final Note

Regardless of what I’ve mentioned here, if something is working for you, whatever it is, then keep doing it. But if it’s not working then maybe it’s time to give another approach a try.



Please let me know what you think by “liking” and “commenting” and if you feel this article can help a friend – caring is “sharing”.

Kevin R. Strauss, M.E. is a biomedical engineer turned wellness specialist focusing on emotional health. In his off-hours, he is a 17-year Ironman Triathlete and Coach passionate about fitness and nutrition. Contact Kevin at, or 240-398-7228.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail – A New Thought To Consider

Reading Time: 3 minutes

New Year Resolution List

We’re well passed the 6-week mark of the new year and by this time more than 80% of resolutions have failed. Bummer. Why?!?!

The simplest solution I have conceived is:

“A New Year’s Resolution is set in the conscious mind whereas most behaviors are rooted in the subconscious mind.”

In other words, we WANT to change but we’re being subconsciously BLOCKED.

This is probably why behavior change is so difficult for most people because until we truly and fully subscribe to a change it really isn’t becoming ingrained in our subconscious brain. As it turns out, most of our subconscious wiring occurs between the ages of 0-6 years. Which means, most of your learned behaviors happen long before you’re even conscious of them. What?!?

Have you noticed how a baby will subconsciously or instinctively figure out how to have its needs met by behaving in such a way that lead its parent(s) into taking the desired action. And, if the parent(s) does not pick up on these clues then a child is destined to not have its needs met and this could ultimately result in emotional pain or trauma which will likely playout in that person’s behavior for the rest of their life… unless it is appropriately addressed.

People change behavior, in a moment, when it truly is THAT important to them.

Actions speak louder than words, right?

A new father quits smoking, cold-turkey, when his first child is born. A long-time alcoholic quits drinking instantly when she kills someone while drunk-driving. A morbidly obese person one day, seemingly out of nowhere, decides they’ve had enough and instantly changes their lifestyle and begins exercising and making better food choices on a random Tuesday. A person will “drop everything” when their smartphone breaks and go get it fixed even if that means going to work late, taking a long lunch or skipping meeting up with friends after work. It’s THAT important.

Unfortunately, and perhaps thankfully, most of us have not had a catastrophic event that shocked our emotional state and instantly re-wired our subconscious brain. What this means is, for most of us, our pre-existing subconscious wiring is guiding our behavior.

What behaviors are you struggling with and why?

What emotional need was not met or violated as a child?

Some techniques such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can do wonders for addressing specific behaviors. The goal here is to replace the undesirable behavior with the desired behavior until the desired behavior becomes ingrained in the subconscious and the “new” habit. In other words, hold on consciously until you’re able to re-wire the subconscious. Perhaps this is where the “21-day rule to form a habit” is based.

In some cases, it may not be necessary to understand the underlying cause of the behavior however, I believe the greatest chance for success is to understand the root cause. In doing so, that knowledge is empowering and disarming and by addressing it the behavior change will be much easier and more natural.

In summary, New Year’s Resolutions fail because the decision is made in the conscious mind while behavior is driven by the subconscious mind. Re-wire your subconscious and the behavior change will be far more likely to stick.

Do that you may never need a resolution again!

Participation, It’s Not The Same As Engagement

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Disengaged Employees

One of the hottest topics in Human Resources, Wellness and Employee Development is Engagement. It’s sounds like a nice word but why is it so important? We’ve all heard managers say, “I pay my employees to ‘do their job’. They’re not children so I shouldn’t have to ‘hold their hand’. As long as they show up and put in the hours what do I care?”

Well, as a manager you should care A LOT because it’s costing you tons of money and more! The current global workforce is said to be only 15% engaged (Gallup). In the US, it’s slightly better at 30% engaged. That means, in the US, 70% of the workforce is NOT engaged.

Why should managers care? Well, let’s say your organization has 100 employees but only 30 actually do any work. Would you be willing to pay 70 salaries for little to no contributions? Let’s re-state this… what if each of your 100 employees only did about 2 hours of “real” work per day. How would you feel about that? That’s what happens when people aren’t engaged.

For the Wellness Industry, or for those purchasing wellness products, a lot of emphasis is placed on participation. One reason is because we falsely assume if people are using the program then they’re engaged at work. For example, What percent of employees completed the Wellness Survey? What percent had the “voluntary” evaluation where if they didn’t they’d be fined? What percent committed to a 30-day “eat healthy” or “step” challenge?

Even when we see 80-90% participation in such programs our employees are still disengaged with their work. How can that be? We provided the programs and people did them. They must be engaged if they’re doing the programs, right? WRONG.

Participating in programs and activities at work is completely different than being passionate, excited, deeply interested and engrossed in your work. When a person is fully committed to their job and the organization at an intellectual and more importantly, an emotional level, THAT is engaged.

Emotionally committed, at work? This is business, not a relationship. WRONG, again. If you’re a member of the human species then you’re emotional. If you’re working with other people then you’re in a relationship too. It’s obviously not romantic but it is most certainly emotional. Emotions are what drive our behavior more than anything else. The behavior here is engagement or lack thereof due to unhealthy or not-so-great relationships.

As a manager, the more you can do to connect, as a person, with your employees, the stronger your relationships will become and the more emotionally invested you ALL will be. By strengthening your relationships you’ll be showing your employees that you really do care about them and value who they are and what they contribute to the overall effort.

Afterall, they’re your employee and a big part of why they were hired is because there was some kind of subconscious (or conscious) bonding happening during the interview process. So, now it’s time to nurture that relationship because like exercise, if you don’t practice it often you’ll lose it. And then not only will you have an engagement issue but also a retention problem too.

People have a basic need to feel loved and like they belong. If we don’t feel heard or valued then we don’t feel loved. And if someone doesn’t feel loved then why would they ever extend themselves and become passionate and committed to the cause much less truly emotionally invested in their job or the organization. By holding back they’re also protecting themselves from pain…. it’s not physical pain, it’s emotional. When a manager doesn’t value his/her employee it hurts them and it’s real and it’ll show in their behavior.

The next time you’re thinking about your workforce and why they’re not engaged even though they show up, participate in happy hours, birthday celebrations, surveys and challenges, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself how well connected you and your staff really are, as people first.

A little bit of sincere interest in others and sharing who you are can go a long way in helping people engage. Heck, if you’re company truly values its employees and they feel it you can probably even reduce salaries by 10-15% because more often than not a person will forego money for happiness… and they’ll work harder too! Imagine that!

– Kevin

My Mission To Help Balance Health & Wellness

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Let’s take a moment and think about your health or that of your organization. What does “health” really mean? More often than not, when people say “health” they’re primarily thinking Physical Health.

We all know health is more than just physical. I believe there are four main areas of health which, when nurtured, will support overall wellness and well-being. Many sources claim three primary areas: Physical, Mental and Spiritual but I believe this three-legged approach neglects the key area of Emotional Health by grouping it within Mental Health.

Now, if you’re ready, I’m going to offer an approach to Wellness from a rather different angle and if it makes sense to you then together we’ll have a strong likelihood of improving your wellness and perhaps a lot of other people too!

Below are the definitions I choose for the four primary areas of health AND in order of importance or how they might be prioritized.

  • Emotional Health – The ability to give and receive love, connection, belonging. This is different than Emotional Intelligence – the ability to manage one’s emotions and feelings.

Often Emotional Health is included in Mental Health but as you can see from the definition below, Mental Health is not just about being “crazy” or “unstable”.

  • Mental Health – The ability to focus, think clearly, concentrate, and stay on task. This is not to be confused with Mental Illness – the significant impairment of an individual’s cognitive, affective or relational abilities.

Only a small percentage of the population actually struggles with Mental Illness yet every single person could benefit from nurturing their Mental Health. In other words, not everyone is schizophrenic, psychotic or suffers from multiple personality disorder but anyone can be stressed out, overworked, overwhelmed or burned out at any given time and that is what affects your Mental Health. This is why taking a break to “clear your mind” is so important throughout the day.

  • Physical Health – The ability to execute our daily activities without undue fatigue or physical stress. Similar to the Mental Health definition above, most people are not ill or suffering from a disease such as cardiovascular, cancer or diabetes. However, every person would benefit from daily hydration, good nutrition, exercise and rest. See, it’s pretty simple really!

The primary reason Physical Health is not first is because most people are actually doing just fine. Sure, we could all lose a few pounds, exercise and sleep more and eat more vegetables but in the whole scheme of things, most of us ARE “walking and talking” and able to go about our day. Our basic needs for physical existence ARE being met albeit maybe not fully optimized.

  • Spiritual Health – The ability to establish peace and harmony in our lives and understand our purpose.Often times, spirituality is equated to religion/religious. I believe that definition discriminates against those who are not religious, don’t believe in God or simply differ in their religious views. To nurture one’s purpose can fill your spirit.

If your purpose is to serve God then that is how you achieve Spiritual Health. Someone else my view their purpose as raising their family or their work. And purpose need not be something so grand. It could be as simple as fulfilling “your purpose for today” such as getting the car fixed or finishing a report.

Four Health Components of Wellness
Wellness Wheels – Balanced

Just like the four wheels of a car, if you only inflate or over-inflate one your car won’t drive well. Therefore, in order to nurture our overall well-being we need to nurture ALL FOUR components of health and not just one such as Physical Health.

Given how familiar people are with Physical and Mental Health and how “controversial” Spiritual Health can still be, my primary focus is on Emotional Health. Plus, I believe it is the most neglected and perhaps the most important component to achieving overall well-being. Why? Well, because our state of Emotional Health is the primary driver of our behaviors. (This may be a very new idea for many of you so maybe just take your time and think about it for a bit.)

In the Wellness Industry and life in general, we regularly speak about Behavior Change. What is it? How do we stick to it? Why can’t we do it more easily? Why don’t New Year’s Resolutions last? Etc. Well, I’ve been independently researching this topic for 17 years and I’ve even published a few articles describing where behavior change was successful.

So here’s the BIG secret I discovered that few people know or understand (which is why it may sound so “out there”). A person’s behavior is primarily driven by their state of emotional health (or un-health). I won’t get into the details here but suffice to say, if you’re ever wondering WHY someone is doing what their doing it’s pretty likely their behavior is an attempt to compensate for an unmet emotional need or an emotional trauma/pain.

The good news is as soon as a person begins to feel loved and supported their Emotional Health begins to improve and so do their behaviors. In study after study, specific behaviors have been shown to improve when a person feels more connected. In fact, a person’s behaviors are really just a symptom of a deeper, emotional, issue. I’m not saying love is the panacea for all ailments but I do believe it is the root cause for many.

Now, rather than focus on behaviors such as alcohol or drug abuse, obesity, bullying, sexual harassment, eating disorders, addiction, gun violence, etc. we can help a lot just by supporting these people emotionally. Support and love combined with other interventions could be a fastest road to addressing the behaviors.

In the workplace, the more connected and Emotionally Healthy we feel the more positive the culture, engagement and retention. While most Wellness Programs focus on Physical Health to try and reduce healthcare premiums there are many other greater expenses rooted in poor Emotional Health, yes, even at the office. While business may not seem emotionally driven if people are involved then it most certainly is.

Retention – Research shows 50% of employees quit because they’re unhappy with their boss or management. That is an emotional choice based on the feelings about a poor relationship. If the standard retention rate at an organization of 300 people is 10% and it takes 6 months to replace an employee and if their salary was $60,000/year then that is a poor retention cost of $900,000/year.

Engagement – Research shows 75% of the US workforce is disengaged. That’s like saying ¾ of your staff isn’t working or your entire staff is only working about 25% of the time. If a person doesn’t feel valued or like they matter at work and if they feel their work isn’t appreciated by their boss or organization then their motivation to try drastically reduces.

Let’s use some low example numbers… We’ll assume 300 employees earn an average of $60,000/year for a total annual payroll of $18 million. If people are only truly engaged 25% of the time it’s as if your organization is wasting 75% of their payroll or $13.5 million/year.

Culture – Happy people are far more productive, creative, innovative, willing to negotiate, compromise and work together. They do not tend to micro-manage, bully, harass, be absent, quit, disengage, argue or complain. A well-known 75-year long study by Harvard University shared their results in Triumphs of Experience (2012) showing “the key to lifelong happiness is connection”. Imagine if you and your workforce felt truly connected to others at the office, at home and to the organization, at large. Imagine how happy everyone would be and how contagious your positive culture would be. An organization like that would truly THRIVE!

Ultimately, each person’s state of Emotional Health is driven by the strength of their relationships. Positive relationships translate into constructive behavior and negative relationships leads to destructive behavior.

Emotional Health - Garbage In / Garbage Out
Emotional Health Box by Kevin R. Strauss

My #1 goal is to help you and your organization strengthen your relationships so you will thrive and I’ve developed a way to leverage technology so anyone can do it.

That’s my platform, in a nutshell. If it resonates with you then I’d be happy to help you and your organization implement a program to balance your wellness by addressing the critical Emotional Health component.

Now, it’s your turn to reach out and connect and tell me your needs and goals!

– Kevin