Soul Savvy Courage Story: Tom Rath

Tom Rath is a great scientist, author and fellow human who is a tribute to the benefit of getting to your deep work. His back story is an even more compelling example of courage, and an advanced level of stress management. Like a true Soul Savvy example, his work continues to evolve in fascinating ways. See links at end for his books and follow him on Twitter @Tomcrath.

Tom Rath is an inspirational human. An American consultant and author re: employee engagement, strengths and well being, he’s best known for his studies on the intersection of strengths based leadership and well being. He synthesizes the science and research in helpful books and frameworks.  All well and good right? A man who has evolved his genius work, and is doing it for the good of all. Or at least, it has the potential to benefit many of us humans, if heard.

As a cancer counselor in years past, I found his back story also compelling. To me, he is a prime example of the best use of courage, as well as advanced stress management skills.

Tom was diagnosed with cancer at age 16 – high school, yes. It was a type of eye cancer, and in his treatment, he lost that eye. But there was more. He found out during his treatment that he happened to have a rare genetic disorder. As a result, he was missing the all-important tumor suppressor genes. His cancer was treated, yes. But he was told that he now faced a lifelong challenge, where his risk for other cancers was exceedingly high.

I can’t imagine receiving that news at such an early age. You can guess it was not described as a promising situation. Many people would be lost as to what to do with this – how to navigate their life in lieu of this medical reality.

In his 20s, Tom began to do his own research on any health-related and well being related science. He’d review hundreds of studies some months, looking for any clues to augment his health and longevity. This was one way he took an active role to stay ahead of his own health risks. (That would be working with the side he can control, Step 2 of the 4 Steps to Destress, right? And freakin’ masterful problem solving, Step 3. And there is also major masterful mood management too, huh; Step 4. OK he’s got it covered here).

Today Tom is in his forties, married, with two children. In addition to his own writing and brilliant work, he is a senior scientist and advisor to Gallup, as well as working with several startups now including his own publishing company. He’s an expert on employee engagement, strengths and well being – remember Strength Finders 2.0? That’s also his work, along with half a dozen other NY Times bestsellers. Fascinating to see his work evolve over time.

His story has another big lesson in terms of stress management. In his years of research, and twenty years of handling various cancers, he learned a few things about handling stress. But a decade ago or so, he was getting frustrated at seeing friends die prematurely. He loved his job, but it didn’t leave him time to give attention to an important desire that kept getting pushed to the back burner.

Now, here’s a man that knows the day to day skills that are part of good stress management and wellbeing. From his writing it’s clear he eats healthy, he exercises and stays active during the day, and he prioritizes good sleep. We can guess lots more stress management wisdom and strategies filled his days. But one day as he looked at his life, he realized though he was managing stress well – he was not getting to fulfill an important desire. This was taking a toll.

The desire? To share the information and research he’d gathered over twenty years on how to stay healthy and live longer. He just had to write a book about it! That required a lot of work to organize and synthesize the most important parts of his discoveries through the research. And it wasn’t going to happen, with is current life and schedule.

So he talked to his work peeps, and arranged a sabbatical. He unplugged and spent many months fulfilling his desire. He wrote that book for his family, friends and the world, Eat, Move Sleep.

He addressed the elephant in room. He had the courage to step back and assess the big picture of his life. He listened to his internal intel. And he created a sane path to make it happen, while maintaining his healthy lifestyle. Wow. Don’t you love stories like this?

His latest books are extremely relevant for the Soul Savvy tribe – and there is a film that I’m excited to check out on some of this recent work. See below for these resources, and spread the word.

Now, excuse me while I take a walk and do a happy dance to celebrate this human example of excellence. Heartwarming inspiration – helpful time for this, no? Though I don’t know Tom Rath personally, (no affiliate links here; probably would be a good idea) – I know when giving Thanks and Praise is a good idea, lol.

And what about you? If I many suggest, here are some

So dear reader, in terms of your life, are there any elephants in the room? Big deals that aren’t getting dealt with? Side projects that … shouldn’t be on the side anymore? Covid-19 has really changed the landscape of this summer of 2020 time. Even the most mindful side of you can be undone by even a wee baby elephant in the room.

So try any of these steps to get that big picture overview working for you:

ACTION 1) Assess your life with the life wheel:
A common tool in coaching and other areas, the life wheel has you rate important life areas. If you see some deficits, check internally to see if it’s time to put some attention to raising that rating. (coming)

ACTION 2) Assess your stress management:
Try this worksheet to look at what’s working, what’s not serving you. Stress mgmt. tools should be updated and upgraded every now and then. Try the 4 Steps to Destress training to grow your skills.

ACTION 3) Start a discussion: Comment below with questions, or ideas, that help you update and assess how you’re doing overall. How you might enhance your work and your life right now?

ACTION 4) Schedule a consult: If you need more support to get traction with important projects, talk to me. No pressure here – and if we’re not a good fit, I’ll still have tons of insights and ideas for you.

Stay cool as you step it up
– we’re having the mother of heat waves here in Boulder ….


Most relevant books for Soul Savvy tribe (see his books on this link)
Fully Charged: The 3 Keys to Energizing Work and Life
Life’s Great Question: Discover How You Contribute to the World
It’s Not About You: A Brief Guide to a Meaningful Life

And for health
Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

Which has a movie based on it that sounds great, and a website with a health quiz that will get you your custom Eat Move Sleep plan.

Your Soul Savvy Guide,
Denise Barnes

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