Project Practitioners > Are You a Habitual Dieter?

Are You a Habitual Dieter?

By Chris Cook, PMP

READ TIME: 5 minutes


“Someone who lives a healthy lifestyle and is in habit of exercising does not respond to ‘six easy steps to losing weight.’ It’s those who don’t have the lifestyle that are most susceptible. It’s not news that a lot of people try diet after diet after diet in an attempt to get the body of their dreams. And no matter the regimen they choose, each comes with the qualification that regular exercise and a balanced diet will help boost results. In other words, discipline. Gym memberships tend to rise about 12 percent every January, as people try to fulfill their New Year’s aspiration to live a healthier life. Yet only a fraction of those aspiring fitness buffs are still attending the gym by the end of the year. Aspirational messages can spur behavior, but for most, it won’t last.” – Simon Sinek, Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action


The aspirational leader relies on manipulations to garner attention and followership. Take the excerpt above. ‘Six easy steps to losing weight’ works on the easily manipulated. Anyone who loses weight knows it is a process that is not easily packaged into clean, clear-cut steps.

There are no magic shakes to drink all day every day that leads to permanent results. Sure, the first few weeks or months you will be shedding pounds like they are going out of style. The second you start to live normally again, the pounds find their way back.

The packages themselves say to incorporate the magic drink into a balanced diet with exercise. Who knows if the product even has an effect because balanced diet and exercise are the remedies for weight gain?

These manipulative tactics steer people away rather than bring more in droves. These aspirational statements backfire. Project managers need to be inspirational, not aspirational.

Inspired people do not need to be told what to do. They do it for themselves as much as because you said so. People living the healthy lifestyle realize the benefits internally as much as externally. Sure they have six-pack abs and glowing skin, but those are side effects of being healthy. They have a balanced diet and exercise because they are inspired. They do not need six easy steps to continue.


Here is another excerpt from Start With Why:

“A management consultant friend of mind was hire by a billion-dollar company to help it fulfill its goals and aspirations. The problem was, she explained, no matter the issue, the company’s managers were always drawn to the quicker, cheaper option over the better long-term solution. Just like the habitual dieter, ‘they never have the time or money to do it right then the first time,’ she said of her client, ‘but they always have the time and money to do it again.’”


Does this sound like your organization? You are looking for a long-term fix with a short-term solution. You want to inspire yet use aspirational messaging. This confusion of messaging leads to status quo and nothing progressing. This fad dieter of an organization wants six-pack abs without putting in the work.

Change is difficult for everyone. I use this example quite often, but it highlights this point so well. A company wants each of their divisions to work together. ‘One Organization’ is the motto they choose. Not catchy but to the point.

This change is meant to be long term. The executives want this organization performing as one for the rest of time. Each division is helping the other one out when needed. Combining multiple divisions on one project to cut costs by eliminating expensive subcontractors. Sounds great, right?

While the message is ‘One Organization,’ the action keeps it separate. Payments are made separate. Profits are separate. Employees have different bosses and should listen to their direct superior. Equipment is taken away as the division needs it elsewhere.

As you can see, the message and the action have a disconnect. The fad diet of the organization is one unit working as a whole. The lifestyle choice of the organization is separate divisions working for themselves. Which wins out? The cookies and ice cream always beat the salads and water.



This ‘One Organization’ model was easier to say and present at a yearly conference than it was to do something about. It sounds nice on paper. ‘Six easy steps to losing weight’ sounds perfect, until it is followed by diet and exercise are necessary to make this work.

‘One Organization’ sounds fantastic, until it forces department heads to work together and compile their resources. Inspiration was nonexistent. The message fell flat. Aspirational tactics only last so long before you need more. They never satisfy like a bag of chips never satisfies hunger.

A way for the habitual dieter to turn inspired is to see results from lifestyle changes. Grab water instead of soda. Get a burrito bowl instead of the tortilla. Go for a walk during lunch rather than use the entire hour for consuming processed nothingness.

The organizational equivalent is someone who dangles bonuses out to get people to work harder, offers a company vehicle to get someone to stay, or thinks a promotion is going to make the situation better. These short-term fixes are describing what the consultant was saying. This organization does not have the time to solve the actual problem, but they do have the time and money to supply these additional resources to put a band-aid on the issue.

Do you find yourself being more aspirational or inspirational? What effects on your team do you notice? Is there a difference?

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