Entrepreneur Secret to a Grow Get Give Life #15:
Photo: Ben White, Unsplash
Even when you eat right and exercise, there are many things that can derail your health and, in turn, your progress. Adaptability is great to manage your stress levels, but there are still risks to your health. It doesn't what your profession is in order to enjoy the time at work and the time away from work, we must stay healthy. In other words, we must avoid getting sick or injured whenever possible. That doesn't mean living in a bubble, but it does mean making smart decisions. In this rapidly shrinking world, it means managing germ and bacteria exposure. For example, in the second half of 2019, I was in the final few weeks push for attendance at a three-day summit I was holding. The challenge was that I was starting this up in a brand-new community. It was ambitious to even try so quickly, with a shallow contact list as the “new” guy in town. My attendance numbers were low, but I was hoping to attract a few more people to attend by simply going out into the community and personally extending face-to-face invitations.
Three weeks prior to the event, I got extremely ill with the flu and was bed ridden for three days, confined to my house for an entire week. I could not and did not want to face anyone; my throat was raw, and my voice was gone, so had to resort to online marketing only, abandoning the more effective direct approach. I know that this cost me a few more attendees and it put my revenue at risk by reducing the possible buyers in the audience. The flu cost me time and money. At worst, this time it was possibly $20,000. Luckily, this wasn’t a bigger event with more up-front investment risk. What staggered me was the fact that a simple microscopic virus took me down. I passed on the flu shot three months earlier. That was a mistake.
I live in Canada and have often told adventure-seeking tourists it is the big things (animals like bears, cougars, elk, coyotes, etc.) that can kill you. However, when you travel near the equator and in the tropics, it is the small things – the insects, spiders, snakes, scorpions and other critters that will do the dirty deed. You must be aware of this. Even more threatening, while travelling through airports, buses, trains, cities, and rural areas on this planet, it is disease and illness that are the biggest threats. Bacteria, germs, and viruses are some of the most impactful risks we face. How do you protect yourself against illness? Avoidance is part of the solution, but not always possible, so building your immunity through lifestyle and vaccination is critical, as is healthy hygiene.
Milton Berle, comedian and actor for 80 years, used to say, "Good evening ladies and germs” He wasn’t simply being funny by talking down the gentlemen, he meant it. He would say, “I call you ladies and gentlemen, but you know what you really are.” Men aren't necessarily germs, but the premise is that they're not only people in the room. They also are carriers of potential illness. It’s not good for your psyche if you go through life paranoid or worried if you touch, breathe or are exposed to other people's air. Take a measured approach, but always be vigilant.
There are very simple things you can do when managing your exposure to germs. Frequent hand washing is one of the easiest and most effective ways. If you're in large groups be sure to wash your hands pre-event and post-event, or even during a longer event. You can use a hand sanitizer, but it is more effective to thoroughly wash. Only running your hands under the water (i.e. getting them wet) isn’t cleansing. You must do more than rinse your hands. You need to wash your hands with soap thoroughly. Think of it. During events, or parties, you've shaken the hands of, or at least touched, 10 or 15 other people or even more. Food is served by a server and all the hands that have come near your plate or glass before them. Before you decide it's time to eat, your first decision should be to wash your hands. This is something most people forget to do. I admit I have often missed this step.
Washing your hands regularly, but not obsessively, is prudent. We can't afford to be ill frequently. It disrupts our lives, disrupts our flow and erodes our overall health. Especially if you're working and traveling a lot, your immune system might already be suppressed or compromised. I don't know what your day to day health is like, but if you're not operating at your optimal health and you happen to be exposed to contagions, you may in fact become infected. Illness then kills your days, your week or beyond. It's the kind of time off or “stay-cation” that you don't want.
It is not productive to spend your down time recovering from illness. You want to rejuvenate and refresh. I side strongly with science that shows value in exposing oneself to various germs and bacteria. Your body builds immunity to illness and manages to ward off the bad bugs. This is a proven fact, but it does not always hold true when we encounter something our body has never experienced before. Nor does it matter much when we are exhausted or physically compromised. We will get sick. It happens, but the severity doesn’t have to put us in bed for three days. Generally, you don’t need to go as far as wearing a mask. But you might if there's a highly infectious airborne illness that's going through the community. Vaccinations work. Be sure yours are up to date and appropriate for the area of the world you will be in.
Eating at restaurants, food fairs, and fast food chains exposes you to germs in obvious places, but there are many things we don’t normally consider when protecting ourselves from illnesses. For example, some time ago, our family was at Subway (I'm not picking on Subway as the only culprit, because it could be any organization). Our son told us not to use ice from the machines. He said he learned that the containers for the ice in the top of the beverage machines never get cleaned. He said he saw this program on it and the bacteria in there are staggering. While it feels like it would be a closed system with minimal bacteria, he said that, the fact is that they don't clean it. He said that is why he would never want to have that ice.
We must not become obsessive about hygiene, but it is hard to ignore some facts. One of the worst places for exposure is an airplane. Planes and airports are very difficult places for people to manage their risks. Not only do you have a lot of people in a confined space, but you might also have people from all over the planet, and if they're not on your plane, they were on another plane that was in the airport or seat at the gate that you might have waited in.
Traveling through airports, bus and train terminals increase the risk of exposure to illness. Here are some tips for travel:
1. Drink bottled water,
2. Wash your hands regularly,
3. Cover your own nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing, avoid visibly ill people,
4. Wipe down surfaces like table trays and armrests where possible.
5. Turn on your air vent. The air in the plane is cleaned and recirculated.
6. Get oxygen. Open those valves and get air flowing.
7. Hydrate and avoid caffeine and alcohol (they are diuretics).
8. Try to reduce the frequency you touch your face with your hands
Airports are doing well to becoming hands-free in bathrooms by not having to flush or touch the taps. They have even removed all unnecessary doors/door handles. That's helpful for general avoidance of bacteria and germs that are out there.
When you touch down and are headed away from the airport, crank open the windows on the car you are in. I love doing this right away when I pick up an Uber or a cab or even in my own car. I open the windows regardless of the temperature to get fresh air into my lungs and kind of rejuvenate my lungs from being confined to breathing manufactured and filtered air. Think about it: when you're in an airport, in a plane, and then an airport again, you could be there two to ten hours in a day. You're not getting fresh air. It is recirculated and hopefully filtered air. This is air shared with hundreds, if not thousands of other people who are in various states of health. The air system is bombarded with so much.
That's just my two cents for being well. It is for your health and illness prevention.