Tom Rath is an inspirational human. A writer, researcher and filmmaker, he studies the role of human behavior in business health and well-being. Diagnosed with cancer at age 16 – high school, yes – he found out during his treatment that he happened to have a rare genetic disorder. As a result, he was missing the all-important tumor suppressor genes. His cancer was treated, but was told that he now faced a life where cancer risk would be very high.
I can’t imagine receiving that news at such an early age, and it was not delivered as a very promising situation.
Some time ago, Tom began to do his own research on any science related to health and well-being. He’d review hundreds of studies some months, looking for any clues to augment his health and longevity, and stay ahead of his own health risks.
Today Tom is in his forties, married, with two children. In addition to his own writing and wonderful work (tomrath.org, twitter @tomcrath), he is a senior scientist and advisor to Gallup, where he’s an expert on employee engagement, strengths and wellbeing. Remember Strength Finders 2.0? That is his work, along with half a dozen other NY Times bestsellers. Fascinating to see his evolution over time.
His story has a big lesson in terms of stress management. In his years of research, and twenty years of handling various cancers, he learned a few things about handling stress. But a decade ago or so, he was getting frustrated at seeing friends die prematurely. He loved his job, but it didn’t leave him time to give attention to an important desire that kept getting pushed to the back burner.
Now, here’s a man that knows the day to day skills that are part of good stress management. From his writing it’s clear he eats healthy, he exercises and stays active during the day, and he prioritizes good sleep. We can guess lots more stress management wisdom and strategies filled his days. But one day as he looked at his life, he realized that though he was doing well handling stress overall, not getting to fulfill his desire was really taking a toll on him.
The desire? To share the information and research he’d gathered over twenty years on how to stay healthy and live longer. He just had to write a book about it! That required a lot of work to organize and synthesize the most important parts of his discoveries. And it wasn’t going to happen, with is current life and schedule.
So he talked to his work peeps, and arranged a sabbatical. He unplugged and spent many months fulfilling his desire.
He addressed the elephant in the room. And he did it while maintaining his healthy lifestyle. Now that’s an achievement.
His book, Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes was published in 2013. His eatmovesleep.com website offers resources including study guides, and a self-assessment that gives you your own eat move sleep plan.
Tom’s interest in addressing the larger health issues that negatively influence the economy, workplaces and people’s lives – well it looks like he created a remarkable and effective tool, and gift, for the planet today. See below resource list to Spread the word.
And in terms of your life, are there any elephants about? Big deals that aren’t getting dealt with? Side projects that … shouldn’t be on the side now? Maybe over the holiday weekend you can give that some thought … Even the most mindful goddess can be undone by even a wee baby elephant taking up residence.
How do you examine life in terms of elephant detection? Your ideas posted below help us all…
To spread the work on Tom’s book
Interviews with Tom