“Our willingness to acknowledge that we only see half the picture creates the conditions that make us more attractive to others.”— Margaret J. Wheatley

The exercise challenge of the day was perplexing to us. You see, the ice was going to be a problem.

For fun, my wife and I had signed up for a month-long exercise challenge series. In general, it was well set up. The exercises came with accommodations for different ages and levels of fitness. However, this challenge of the day showed a complete lack of perspective.

The challenge was this: “On the completion of your run (or walk), take a five-minute dip in the ocean or your closest body of water.”

Our walk that day was through snowdrifts that were often waist-deep. We did happen to have a nearby pond. However, as might be expected, the pond was covered with ice over two feet thick as you can see in the picture above.

This trend continued in future challenges. It was clear that the people running the series were living on the coastline of southern California. All the exercise challenges worked wonderfully where they lived. However, fewer and fewer of the challenges were meeting our “Winter in the North Country” needs.

This organization had and still has a problem. Their feedback loops are not working. We gave them feedback and never got a response. We still occasionally look at their articles and blogs and see that they continue to write as if snowy, cold winters don’t exist.

Why is this a problem? They want to help people all over the world improve their fitness. If the guidance they are providing does not fit the varied environments people live in, it is more likely to fail.

Many companies are trying to improve the “fitness” of how work is done. Unfortunately, often the people who develop the “get fit” processes for the company are picturing a “southern California” work climate. If that is where they received their experience, they are not wrong to use that as a starting point. However, if they want the “get fit” processes for their company to work, they better be ready to listen to people who are experiencing other work climates. They better be ready to adjust.

If they don’t do that, what will their intended audience do with these awesome processes given to them from the land of sunshine? Some might work hard to make adjustments to fit their own situation. Meanwhile, most will most likely laugh at the fantasy-land they can only dream of, while they just keep dealing with their personal weather situation of -10 degrees Fahrenheit.

What are the people in your organization likely to do?

Can you please hand me that axe? I have to chop my way through the ice so I can take my dip.

Yours in the calm pursuit of excellence,


Alan Willett

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