Few people have influenced the day-to-day management of people and companies more than Ken Blanchard. A prominent, sought-after author, speaker, and business consultant, Dr. Blanchard is universally characterized by his friends, colleagues, and clients as one of the most insightful, powerful, and compassionate individuals in business today. Ken is one of the most influential leadership experts in the world and is respected for his years of groundbreaking work in the fields of leadership and management.
Dr. Ken Blanchard is the cofounder and Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international management training and consulting firm that he and his wife, Margie Blanchard, began in 1979 in San Diego, California. In addition to being a renowned speaker and consultant, Ken also spends time as a visiting lecturer at his alma mater, Cornell University, where he is a trustee emeritus of the Board of Trustees.
Ken has received many awards and honors for his contributions in the fields of management, leadership, and speaking. The National Speakers Association awarded him its highest honor, the "Council of Peers Award of Excellence." He was inducted into the HRD Hall of Fame by Training magazine and Lakewood Conferences, and he received the Golden Gavel Award from Toastmasters International. Ken also received The Thought Leadership Award for continued support of work-related learning and performance by ISA--The Association of Learning Providers. Ken has been inducted into Amazon's Hall of Fame as one of the top 25 best-selling authors of all time. The business school at Grand Canyon University bears his name. In addition, Ken teaches students in the Master of Science in Executive Leadership Program at the University of San Diego.
Born in New Jersey and raised in New York, Ken received a master's degree from Colgate University, and a bachelor's and PhD from Cornell University. An avid golfer, Ken belongs to the Loch Lomond Golf Club in Scotland.
Fit at Last: An Interview with Ken Blanchard
Posted on January 22, 2014 by Bill Connolly
Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Ken Blanchard, one of the most influential business leadership experts and author of the iconic One Minute Manager. His newest book, Fit at Last, demonstrates how his leadership techniques can be applied to achieving success and strengthening commitment by chronicling his journey to better health. We discussed his inspiration, the most important step to take for a healthier life, and how being healthier can translate to a more successful career.
What do you define as your personal brand?
I think it’s in my mission statement: “To be a loving teacher and example of simple truths who helps myself and others to awaken to the presence of God in our lives.” I mention God because I think the biggest addiction in the world is the human ego — where we start to think we’re the center of the universe and forget we’re here to serve, not to be served. We’re here to give, not to get. My mother always used to say, “Don’t do something for someone else with the desire to get something back, do it because it’s the right thing to do. But watch out — you’ll be amazed at what will come back.”
Why were you inspired to lead a healthier life?
For a number of reasons. It starts with my family, particularly my desire to see my grandkids graduate from college and set their lives on a significant path. I’d also like to see my son and daughter get their AARP cards. Ha!
Then there’s Joy, my wonderful little dog, who runs down the hall to greet me even before I turn in the driveway. When I started my fitness journey she was two years old. I realized a small dog like Joy could probably live 14 to 15 years and I can’t stand the thought of her running down the hall to greet me and have me not be there. I know it’s a little odd — most people are concerned about losing their dog instead of their dog losing them!
Another reason is that I think a lot of things need to be done down here before I go. I think the world is in desperate need of a different leadership role model. Everyone has seen the negative effects of self-serving leaders in every segment of our society. I’m at the point now where I can be a supporter of a new image of leadership as an act of service. My best and most influential years probably are ahead of me rather than behind me.
Finally, a big inspiration to me was my relationship with Norman Vincent Peale, the famous author of The Power of Positive Thinking. I met him when he was 86 years old and we coauthored The Power of Ethical Management. He was so excited about every day and was still making a real difference out there, right up until he “graduated” at 95.
What challenges did you face along the way?
The biggest challenge is usually changing your past habits. I had started fitness programs many times over the years and then would getFit at Last too busy and stop. I realized that the reason New Year’s resolutions don’t work is because after you announce one, everyone who is important in your life laughs, says, “We’ll believe it when we see it,” and goes to a delegating leadership style where they leave you alone to accomplish your goal. I realized from my own work with Situational Leadership® II (SLII®) that if I could handle a delegating leadership style in the area of health and fitness, it wouldn’t be a New Year’s resolution — I would just do it. So I knew I needed a different leadership style. That’s when I partnered with Tim Kearin, who had once played a major role in the fitness program at West Point and started his own health club called Personally Fit. The hook for Tim was that he had always wanted to write a book on fitness for people in our age group. If Tim didn’t help me be successful, we wouldn’t have much of a book.
Along my journey I had some interesting challenges — a bout of pneumonia, a diagnosis of prostate cancer and a ruptured bicep muscle — any of which would have discouraged me from going further if I hadn’t been committed. That’s why it’s important to have a fitness partner like Tim or a friend or relative that will keep after you to keep on keeping on.
What is the most important step people can take to lead a healthier lifestyle?
Analyze where you are on the six key aspects of fitness: aerobic exercise, strength training, flexibility, balance, weight control/nutrition and rest/sleep. Using SLII®, determine your competence and commitment to achieve your optimum fitness level in each of those areas without help. If you’re like me, you might have one or two areas where you are doing well but all six are key.
How does a healthy lifestyle translate into career success?
It’s simple: healthy people produce good results. How many people are at the top of their game when they’re not feeling good? If you are at an optimum level of health and fitness, you will have more energy and be able to present your best self at work every day. That logically translates into good results for yourself and your organization.
Thanks to Ken for taking the time to speak with me. His dedication to health and business is truly inspiring, and I would recommend that you pick up his book if you are looking to make significant change in your life.
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