(As published in the Sunday Star Times, August 9, 2015 – article online here)
Aaron Callaghan: Getting into shape for business
The former rugby player used to rely on his youth to carry him through busy days after late nights of partying, but as he started getting older he realized that recovery was a lot slower and that he wasn’t working at his peak. So he changed his lifestyle and turned his life around.
Now he is a high-performance coach, helping business people get a better balance between work, life and health. From his Wanaka-based business, Peak 40, Aaron works with executives and business owners to get them physically and mentally fit.
Aaron is appearing at the Nurture Change Fiji Business Retreat in November, as the resident wellness expert. He’ll be taking daily fitness and wellness sessions.
In the meantime, we asked him a few questions about business and the best lessons he’s learned in his career.
Who is a leader from whom you learned something incredibly valuable, and what was that lesson?
A book called “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel Pink, is an interesting look into human nature and what keeps us motivated.
Traditionally, external rewards were believed to be the best way to keep a workforce motivated and productive, i.e. more money equaled more productivity and satisfaction. This strategy has been proven to be effective in the short term, but interestingly, it can actually have a negative effect in the long term.
Pink has concluded that internal drivers are much more important in maintaining productivity and motivation. He says there are three keys to keeping motivation high: purpose, mastery and autonomy, which taught me three lessons for business.
Firstly, employees need to understand their purpose or ‘why’. How does what they’re doing fit into the big picture?
Secondly, they have to have a certain amount of control in the process.
And thirdly, there is the desire to continually improve the task at hand. Muhammad Ali once said, “If I had been a garbage collector then I would of been the best garbage collector in the world”. The task is irrelevant, but the desire to improve is a huge driver.
What lesson in business do you try to pass on to others?
If you want your business to be better, you must be better. Embrace the journey of continual self improvement physically, mentally and spiritually. It is the small changes that you make every day that will get you to your final goal.
Who do you think is a great innovator (individual or company) and why?
The “Quantified Self” movement is very interesting. It’s about using technology as self-tracking tools, to measure inputs (ie food), output (ie number of steps a day) and performance (mental and physical).
You could say technology has contributed to our accelerated decline in health and wellbeing, but this movement is a positive one. The ability to store information could be one of the keys to getting us back to good health, especially as the data collected really increases individual accountability.
It’s one thing to think you have done enough exercise for the week, but another to look at the hard data and realize you haven’t. Quantified Self technology could be game changing.
What has been your biggest learning in business to date and why?
Lao-Tzo said it best with, “A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step”. Significant change is about understanding the small steps necessary to get to where you want to be. Small steps add up – they are what will get you to your end goal.
Embrace the small wins and enjoy the journey. Understand the small steps and acknowledge the wins to help keep your motivation high. It provides proof that you’re getting closer to the end goal.
If you were 21 years old again, and could do any career you wanted, what would you be and why?
I am lucky enough to say I am doing my dream job.
The gift of being able to give guidance to allow someone to become a better version of themselves provides me with a lot of job satisfaction. In hindsight, maybe I would have slightly changed the journey it took me to get to this point, but at the end of the day we are the sum of our experiences. Maybe my journey is what allows me to coach with authenticity and empathy.
What are you most excited about in attending the Nurture Change Business Retreat in Fiji?
No matter where you are in the world or what you’re doing, it is always the people that make the difference. To have so many motivated people who are at the top of their game in the one place will serve as an awesome learning opportunity. I know when I leave the retreat I will be slightly better than when I started. A small win.
The Nurture Change Business Retreat is being held at the InterContinental Golf Resort & Spa in Fiji, November 11-15. For a full schedule and list of speakers, see www.nurturechange.com
– Sunday Star Times