We Own the Questions (Issue 584)

In which we explore  tracking our own activities in detail.

“I’ll have the Kung Pao Chicken,” he said, passing his menu to our server.

Looking at me, he smiled, “I have the same thing every time I come here. It’s in my diary.”

Leaning back and reaching into his trouser pocket, my lunch companion pulled out his phone and, with a few finger pokes, made an entry in his diary.

“What is that?”,  I asked.

“MyFitnessPal,” he said. “It’s an app on my phone. I’ve been using it for several months and I have lost 40 pounds – all the weight I wanted to lose. I track everything I eat and my exercise. It calculates my target calories per day based on my weight and the number of pounds I want to lose per week. It also shows me the balance between my carbs, fats, and proteins, and my intake of several key vitamins and minerals.”

“Here,” he said, passing the device to me. “Have a look.”

I had a look and I was hooked. I downloaded the app at the table, as we were eating lunch, and entered my meal into my phone when we finished.

That was three weeks ago.

Losing weight is not my game. Since I lean heavily (ha, ha, that’s a good joke!) toward a vegetarian diet, my concern is, actually, the opposite: Am I ingesting enough calories and the necessary amounts of protein, key vitamins, minerals, and fat.

Turns out, the answer to those questions has been, “no.”  So, by monitoring my intake, observing which foods provide required elements, and adjusting my diet, I have been able to ensure sufficient calories and the right balance of food elements. Before my evening meal each day, I look for shortfalls and choose foods for dinner and evening snacks that fill in the gaps. I get a little bit of a rush when I hit the targets.

My family thinks I am nuts (for this reason, among others). They are discouraging me from continuing – “You are obsessing about your food, you should eat anything you want, you’ll become bulimic, you’re setting a bad example,” and other choice morsels.

All of that could be true… and I am VERY interested in answering the question, “Am I feeding myself properly or have I fallen into some gustatory habits that are not serving me well?”    So to speak.

I suppose that, if my doctor had told me, “You must track every food you eat for a month,” I probably would have resisted that or felt challenged to comply. However, since it’s MY question and I chose and downloaded the app,  I’m easily sticking with the disciplines of tracking and modifying my diet.

I have rarely met a sales representative in any company who said, “Oh, greatest of all possible earthly joys, my company is requiring me to track my activities, call mix, conversation topics and… I am so very grateful to them for providing this tool!”

Why is that? Well, there is a big difference between clicking a few clicks on a phone app and navigating the decidedly more complex screens of typical large company sales tracking systems. A few seconds versus multiple minutes multiplied by multiple calls per day.

On the other hand, we could focus on issues that are meaningful to us about sales, as I am doing with my diet,  in an effort to improve our productivity, profitability, client retention, or other critical elements of sales health.

Someone else always owns the tool.  We own the questions we’re asking as we use it.

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