I ate vegetarian for 15 years and now I do Paleo. Recently I had a conversation with a friend who pointed out that these were opposites (and “how could I possibly switch sides”…). From the discussion came a very important lesson that I followed at work and in fitness as well:
Do not confuse What You Do with Who You Are
There is a world of difference between ‘being vegetarian’ and ‘eating vegetarian’. One is who you are, the other is what you do to reach an outcome you have. I ate vegetarian because I believed it helped with my outcome of ‘being healthy’. When I found out that was not true I changed my diet. The outcome never changed. I still want to ‘be healthy’ and I now believe Paleo gives me that outcome far better than vegetarianism. Some of my vegetarian friends whose identity is ‘vegetarian’ will never make the switch even if it harms their health. Their outcome is to ‘be vegetarian’ for ethical or other reasons which are noble, but my outcome is ‘health’ and vegetarianism no longer serves that goal.
Same is true with Crossfit. I do Crossfit because I believe it helps to reach my outcome of ‘being the fittest’ I can be. Like many others, I did marathons, cross training, P90X, Insanity and other programs until I found CrossFit. My identity was never a ‘marathoner’ or ‘P90X-er’. It was ‘athlete’. Now I believe CrossFit serves that goal the most. The outcome of ‘being the fittest’ never changes. In that sense, ‘I am a Crossfitter’ as long as it serves the outcome of ‘being the fittest’.
Business actually teaches us this lesson many times over. In sales, we have a major global revenue target. Noone cares how we get to the outcome as long as we deliver. If I have to go to London or Beijing to do so, then that is the way. If I spend extra time with just one customer in need, then I do. The arrogant mantra that ‘This is the way we do it because that is who we are’ destroyed many businesses. The right approach is ‘We will do whatever it takes to get to our outcome’. Our identity is not ‘we’re doing things our way’ but ‘we’re delivering no matter what’.