you don’t typically see purple, hand-addressed envelopes in your business mail, so i opened this letter with interest. tucked within were two hand-written pages on startlingly bright green notepaper.
the letter was from a reader of the blog who shared:
“since i listened to you (and tanya and greg) on hr happy hour, i’ve been drawn to employee wellness. i read about it, i think about it. i cannot stop talking about it. but lately, i’ve been discouraged by my professors…all they talk about is how unfulfilling and monotonous [workplace wellness] was for them. or how it was either all fitness or all nutrition-based.
“i’m writing to you for reassurance…and inspiration to continue and gain perspective, i suppose.”
here’s a bit of my personal response to the letter writer.
if you read about something, think about it all of the time and can’t stop talking about it, you’re passionate about the subject. that passion is what you’ll draw upon when you meet the inevitable cynics, skeptics, naysayers and stonewallers. and it’s that passion you should respect and give credence to, not their attempts, perhaps unknowingly, to derail or redirect you.
i know there’s a more conventional version of this saying, but i always preferred: don’t let the a-holes drag you down. as the letter writer points out, these professors talk about how dispirited the experience was for them. you can learn from others’ experiences, but you need to go in with the knowledge that it’s all opinion. and it’s all predicated on their experience: whom they worked with, where they worked and when they were doing the work. being involved in employee wellness today is a far cry from being involved even five years ago. employers are more aware of its benefits, and they’re smarter about the approach too.
it’s important to listen to everyone, even those with whom you disagree. within each skeptical or negative remark, there’s typically at least one kernel of truth. i join your professors in lamenting the still-too-narrow focus on fitness and nutrition in many efforts to improve employee well-being. lifestyle behaviors are the leading contributor to our current health disaster. but until we get serious about addressing the emotional and financial concerns that lead to these behaviors, as well as the systemic and political forces, we’ll not get as far as we could.
what would you add to my advice to this reader?