Fitbits and the quest for reality

Health wearables have definitely been having a moment.

Fitbit, Jawbone, Apple Watch… their popularity stems from something significant that can help not just our health, but our approach to work and relationships as well.

The underlying promise of health trackers is that they will deliver the wearer data about their activities and wellness which will enable them to understand their current health situation, and prompt them to make choices that will improve that situation.

Dr. Henry Cloud, a psychologist who works with Fortune 500 companies, says that “Reality is always your friend… even though it might hurt a bit”

What he means is not that our situation is always good news, but that having a firm grasp on our reality will always help us – even when it hurts a little to come to terms with. Understanding the reality we are facing – instead of operating under false assumptions or outdated understandings – puts us in the best position to make deliberate choices about how to move forward.

This goes for all areas of life. If we’re trying to resolve a conflict based on what we think is upsetting the other person, without good communication that lets us find out what’s really going on, then we’re not necessarily operating in reality, and therefore aren’t likely to get the best outcomes.

If we’re trying to implement change in our workplaces, without understanding why the current situation or attitude is the way it is, then we may be making decisions that aren’t actually dealing with reality – but only with our assumptions.

Even in an area or topic where we might once have been at the top of our game, we can easily disconnect from reality or end up in a confirmation bubble if we don’t stay up to date with changes in society, technology or innovations in our field.

Whatever area of life we’re looking to discover reality, there are four things we can do:

Gather data

Health wearables, habit apps, survey tools, focus groups, studies – all of these resources can help us get a firmer picture on the framework of the reality we’re facing.

Look for opportunities to gain a new perspectives

Take a professional development course. Learn a new digital tool. Seek out someone who’s been in your workplace a lot more, or less, time than you. Find someone who’s nailing the habit you want to build. Read an author you disagree with.

Ask questions

Ask other people what they think. Ask follow-up questions. Ask why. Ask what-if. Listen.

Test assumptions

Try a new approach out. See what happens. Make adjustments. Test out your picture of reality to see if it holds up to… reality.