What South West Airlines can teach you about losing weight and keeping it off




What’s interesting about that quote is Collins was actually referring to why most businesses never achieve greatness.

But the same can be said for people looking to transform how they look.

Most achieve nothing more than mediocrity for the simple reason they are chronically inconsistent.

A typical approach…

Conventional wisdom runs rampant in the paleo space.  Ask everyone what you must do to achieve success and they will all say pretty much the same thing.

Loose the grains, legumes, and junk food and eat nothing but real foods.

Now don’t get me wrong.  For those with a body that responds to a Paleo-type diet, that is the perfect recipe…LONG TERM!

The mistake is thinking that is what people need to do the moment they discover Paleo.

That is a freaking recipe for disaster. It’s too overwhelming for most people. It’s like putting me in front of a major league baseball pitcher who throws 100mph, giving me a bat and saying, “OK Dean, to be successful all you need to do is go up there and hit the ball.”

Are you kidding me!  That’s not where you start me off.

You start me off by teaching me the mechanics of a good baseball swing.

I spend my first week or two practicing the mechanics of my swing and hitting a ball off a tee.

Then you soft toss me a few balls so I can practice hitting a moving ball making sure I do not resort to my old bad habits. If I do, then I move back to hitting a ball off the tee until I have shown I have that skill mastered.

Then we go over to the batting cages and we turn the heat up a wee bit.  All the while I am focusing on my form.

OK you get where I am going here.

You can’t send in someone completely unskilled in Paleo and ask them to compete like a pro.

They will fail miserably and hate themselves for it, thinking they are the problem.

Baby steps…

When you approach this journey with a mindset of moderation it allows you to accomplish 3 essential things.

  1. You can learn one essential skill at a time, each acting as a building block for the next.
  2. It allows you to build confidence, which is so MASSIVELY important on this journey.
  3. And confidence allows you to hunker down when the going gets tough so you can build consistency.

And quite frankly, consistency is the MOST powerful weapon at your disposal.

It’s not another cookbook or gym membership or extreme fitness workout. It’s consistency.

And what is consistency? It’s the ability to do a set of vital behaviors without fail with no expiration date in sight.

An example from the business world

One of the most consistent businesses over the past 40 years is Southwest Airlines.  They have turned a profit every year they have been in existence.

In fact, they have had years where their profits were greater than the entire airline industry combined.

So how can a company be great in an industry that is notoriously unpredictable?

In a word it is consistency.

And the way they accomplish this is with a clearly defined set of core PRACTICES that have changed very little since the inception of the company.

And just to be clear, PRACTICES are not the same as values. They are the clear do’s and don’ts on how to run a profitable business.

Some of those include…

  • Stay out of food services
  • Use only 737’s
  • Focus on low fares and high frequency

They have a list of about 10 in total that have remained virtually unchanged over the past 40 years.

Each of the practices they have adopted have helped them stay focused on creating a business that does exactly what it must to remain profitable.

So why do they only fly 737s?

It’s brilliant really. It allows them to control costs.

First, it means the only train pilots once and those pilots can fly any plane they have.

Second, it is easier to get parts and service the planes because once again you only train mechanics for one plane and they are all equipped to work on every plane they have.

What does this mean for you?

Well without a doubt, the biggest reason most people struggle is because they operate like most airlines.

They are all over the freaking map.

They have NO practices to speak of. And if they do, they change often and are based on other people’s observations rather than their own.

And they try to do way too much too soon, rather than focusing on adopting one or two core behaviors at a time and only moving on to the next when they have mastered the first.

So what should your practices look like?

Well that is for you to determine, but a practice is something that can endure the test of time.

For instance, one practice that I have implemented is the three treats/week.  Every meal I eat is clean, but 3 times a week I can treat myself to something of my choice.

That practice helps guide my behavior, especially when chaos ensures. And I have been able to sustain that behavior for almost 2 years now.

On the other hand, one thing I have NEVER adopted is the cleanse mentality.  A cleanse is a desperate attempt (in my mind) to get rapid results immediately.

But research will show you that extreme tactics are not sustainable behaviors long-term.  They actually fuel more extreme behaviors.  People become detox addicts…jumping in and out of detox rehab rather than reining in their extreme behaviors and developing consistent sustainable behaviours.

So what is your takeaway from today’s post?

Well ultimately you want to become the South West airlines of your weight management.

Their brilliance lies in their consistency and they are able to do this year in and year out because they have a set of practices that guide their behaviors.

My suggestion. Steal from South West Airlines.

Begin to develop your own set of PRACTICES to guide your behaviors especially in times of chaos.

The choice is yours.  Continue to navigate the world of chronic inconsistencies or begin to build something durable that will withstand the harshest of conditions and provide stable results that are sustainable long term.