Posted by: nedpelger | August 15, 2008

Not Exactly the Diet Coke Hunk, But…

Do you remember the Diet Coke commercial in the 1990s? A bunch of women look out an office building window at a sweaty construction worker taking off his shirt. He cools himself off with a refreshing Diet Coke and the bug-eyed women stare in wonder and appreciation.

Well, I was thirsty the other day on the jobsite and… Wait, back to reality. I look like an average 50 year old, a few extra pounds and not turning any heads these days.

I do stay in decent cardiovascular shape, though, and recommend you do as well. Back when I was near 30, I started getting migraine headaches. A buddy of mine was a deep sea diver in the military at the time. He told me how the divers all knew the secret to  quickly feeling better from a hangover was to breathe higher concentrations of oxygen. A doctor had just given them a seminar and explained that athletes process oxygen far more efficiently, so getting in top physical condition actually helps your lungs get more oxygen to your brain. The doctor also told them that getting in shape helps greatly reduce migraines.

So I started to run and do calisthenics. When I got in good shape, the migraines mostly went away. These days I swim, bike and run. In fact, I’m training for a Lancaster YMCA triathlon that’s coming up in a few weeks. It’s a mile swim, 25 mile bike and 6 mile run. I’m not in great shape due to the trip to India in June and being too busy trying to catch up from the trip since then.

As I was riding bike yesterday, though, and my thighs were screaming, “Enough already!” I thought about this competitive nature that drives me. In reality, it doesn’t matter when I finish the triathlon. Know one cares but me. Yet I struggle to train and to do my best.

On the jobsite I notice my competitive side jumps into play as well. Usually I try to cooperate and get things done the best way for everyone. But sometimes it just comes down to a “you win and I lose” or “you lose and I win” situation. Then the adrenaline flows and I get fired up. Rarely does this end well.

One of the best lessons I’ve ever learned was to keep negotiations broad enough that it just doesn’t come down to somebody loses and somebody wins. The wise negotiator keeps enough items in play that everybody can win, at least a little. In the Construction Knowledge database, I have a section How do I Go for Win-Win Solutions? that further illustrates the concept.

So I guess I have two points in this post. Do you take the time and effort to stay in shape? Do you struggle on the jobsite to work toward creative solutions, to negotiate rather than dictate? Both those items have a great return on investment for your life. If you can establish the habits, you will be glad you did.


  1. On the Office Michael Scott introduced the little known Win-Win-Win strategy.

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