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November 2005
What is Your "Use By" Date?
From the desk of A. Drayton Boylston

By Guest Author Greg Styles

What is a “use by" date, other than the stamp that is on your yogurt carton telling you when to throw it out?

I first came across this concept when researching executive tenure. An executive's “use by date” signifies that age when he or she supposedly transitions from being “effective” to “ineffective” (“Asia Pacific Thought Leadership Series” – Heidrick & Struggles). Can we apply this concept to all of us? Do we all have some type of cosmic “use by" date? How much time do we really have before we “go bad?”

The average American life span is currently 77.6 years (National Center for Health Statistics).

That 77.6 year statistic does not speak to the quality of life at that age, with quality here representing the degree to which we effectively engage life. Many of us will “go bad” long before we reach our 77th year. Are you doing everything possible to make sure you will be unspoiled for your lifespan?

For instance, are you tending to your physical health to make sure your effectiveness continues as long as possible? Some food for thought:

Body View of Boca Raton, Fla. has offered free CT scans to 155 CEO’s. 38% had evidence of coronary disease, 10% had serious coronary disease, and 6% needed surgical correction. By comparison, of all men tested by BodyView for that age group, just 6% had serious coronary disease.

Security guard company Guardsmark offered blood tests to hundreds of its executives and managers to screen for heart problems and discovered that 30% of them had some underlying problem (USA Today article, Do CEO'S Have More Heart Attacks? by Del Jones).

According to researchers from Illinois University the life shortening effects of obesity could rise rapidly enough in the United States in the next five years as to exceed the life curtailing effects of cancer or ischemic heart disease (New England Journal of Medicine. March 17 issue).

What about mental health? Consider these facts:

Only one in eight people who work long hours say they do so because they genuinely enjoy their jobs (Chartered Institute of Personnel Development).

55% of full-time employees say that work-related stress makes them ill-tempered at home (TUC).

So you have a choice – take the responsibility to change your quality of life, or allow your worth to be determined like so much old yogurt! But are you up for the challenge? It is estimated that 90% of heart-bypass patients fail to change their lifestyle…even though their life depends on it (FastCompany, May, 2005). Even with their life in the balance most people will not make the changes needed!

Be unique! Why play into the hands of those who created the “use by date?” Take charge of your overall health, influence others to do the same, and end the days of such an archaic notion. Set the standard – Be the standard. Remain unspoiled!


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Carpe diem!



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