Making Changes

Over the past several years I’ve gradually been making changes in the area of green living.

Bahram Akradi, founder, chairman, and CEO of Life Time — Healthy Way of Life

Over the past several years I’ve gradually been making changes in the area of green living. This includes everything from the kinds of cleaning products I use in my home to the kinds of personal-care products I use on my body. I’ve been paying more attention to the foods I purchase and seeking out more organics. I’ve found myself picking up small pieces of trash in parking lots and recycling the paper clips and folders that come through my office.

I started just doing a little at a time, and as I have, my awareness of green issues has grown. I like to do things in my own way and at my own pace, though, and I respect that same attitude in others. Each of us has our own approach, our own perspective and our own instincts about what will work best for us.

With that in mind, when I think about this issue of Experience Life and green living in general, three suggestions come to mind:

1. If you are interested in doing something good for the environment, start incorporating some green choices and values into your way of life. It doesn’t matter if your first steps are small ones. What matters is that you are moving in a positive direction, opening your mind to options that are healthier for you and for the world around you.

2. As your awareness about environmental concerns expands, strive to maintain a balanced perspective. It’s good and wise to be conscious of the problems and risks we all face, but getting overly stressed out about all the potential dangers of chemical pollutants in your midst just creates more stress-related chemicals within your body. It also creates a toxic attitude that negatively affects those around you. And this brings me to my third suggestion …

3. Even if you feel passionate about preserving and protecting the environment, it’s important to allow other people to learn and make changes at their own pace. Avoid the temptation to judge others or tell them how to live their lives. The best thing you can do to inspire positive change is to be a good example. Influence others through your own demonstrated commitment to healthy living. When they see you looking and feeling good, they’ll ask how you’re doing it.

I think this same approach translates very naturally to business. In the past few years, as we at Life Time Fitness grew more aware of environmental-impact issues, we began making some changes to render our business a little more earth-friendly. As we’ve learned more, we’ve grown more motivated and committed to positive change. Recently, we began investigating the feasibility of larger-scale initiatives that can help us measure and reduce our company’s environmental footprint, while serving our members, employees, investors and local communities even better than before.

We’re discovering that many environmentally friendly choices are also inherently business-savvy and practical choices. It’s not an either/or thing. In fact, recognizing that most organization-wide changes require a solid business case to even get off the ground, leading sustainability advocates like The Natural Step (www.naturalstep.org) promote sustainability models and tools that pass all three of the following tests: “Is it good for business, good for society and good for the environment?”

One of best business mottos I know is: “Think Big. Start Small. Move Fast.” This is how I’d like to see Life Time Fitness approach its sustainability initiatives: by taking an informed, big-picture approach and making well-paced, steady progress in the right direction. This issue of Experience Life encourages you to consider a similar approach in your own life – by inviting you to consider some information that may inspire you to live better, with more pleasure and confidence in your choices.

I encourage you to make the changes in your own life that you feel inspired to make. Share your successes and good experiences with others. The seeds of influence you plant gently will take root and flourish.

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