Learning from Michael Mosley


Many people in the UK and elsewhere in the world will have heard the sad news about Dr Michael Mosley’s unfortunate untimely death last month at only 67 years old. For those who aren’t familiar with him, he was a medical doctor who became a high-profile broadcaster and author, educating large audiences and inspiring people to try to live better.

While Mosley left behind many legacies, one that is particularly useful for the workplace is his concept of “one thing”. The idea behind one thing is simple: rather than people and organisations thinking they have to make huge changes in their lives all at once, they should focus on one achievable goal at a time. If you try to change too many things at one time or to make overarching adjustments to many aspects of your life, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and incapable. No one can start a daily meditation practice, while also training for a triathlon and changing their diet and taking up a new hobby. But doing one of those things at a time, while still challenging, is more possible. Trying to do too much at once and finding that they can’t do it leads to people feeling like they can’t make any changes whatsoever so then they give up on the idea of improving their lives. Instead, you should focus on something small and manageable. When you succeed with that one task or goal, you’ll feel empowered and then you’ll be able to make another change. And so on: it will snowball and before you know it, you will have made a whole swathe of changes, just as you wanted to, but it will have been easier to make happen than attempting to do it all together.

Mosley recommended a lot of things people could try, and his suggestions were always supported by research and were evidence-based. Examples range from volunteering to balancing on one leg, from weight-lifting to cooking tomatoes. As Mosley pointed out in his One Thing show, volunteering decreases your cholesterol and improves your mental health, while balancing on one leg strengthens your core and challenges you mentally and physically, and lifting weights and doing resistance training decreases your blood sugar and reduces your risk of chronic conditions, which in turn helps you live longer. And if you’re wondering why the tomatoes have to be cooked, it’s because it’s known that tomatoes have more nutritional benefits, especially lycopene, when cooked than when raw, plus then you have a broader range of recipes you can use them in, but of course tomatoes are good for you when raw too, so eat them however you like them.

Plenty of these ideas can be applied to the workplace too. If you’re a manager, you could come up with some small but significant changes to implement at work.


Written by B.J Woodstein, PhD

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