By Peter Jeff
The Leadership Mints Guy
Here’s an idea to help reboot your thinking machine. Reading time: 2:33
Sick and tired of being sick and tired, Henry Tanner figured he would starve himself to death.
As a medical doctor, he couldn’t bear the thought of committing suicide. So he would just stop eating and in 10 days he would be dead; his pain even deader.
At least that’s what all the medical literature in 1877 said: a human could live about 10 days without food.
But then Dr. Tanner taught us all a keen lesson in creativity in particular and leadership in general: Don’t assume anything.
Starving himself as planned, Dr. Tanner was amazed that he was still alive –two days AFTER he was supposed to have starved to death.
That day, on day 12, he was even more amazed that the pain from his asthma and rheumatism had diminished. He continued to fast for a total of 42 days– a full month and two days beyond the time he was supposed to starve to death.
During those six weeks, of fasting, his rheumatism and asthma –labeled hopeless by seven other physicians — was gone. He felt great. And he went on to live another 40 years. In the fast lane.
The leadership lesson here is clear. Leaders challenge their assumptions no matter how logical. And it seemed very logical to think hunger pains would exacerbate your hunger and become even more painful the longer you fasted, the longer you went without food.
That’s why Tennessee Williams, the playwright of Streetcar Named Desire fame, was astonished when he felt no hunger after the third day of his fast.
Tennessee Williams later wrote in his memoirs that: “God or somebody drops in on you invisibly and painlessly injects you with a sedative so that you find yourself drifting into a curiously and absolutely inexplicably peaceful condition.”
That peaceful condition is the human body’s digestive system getting a chance to reset, repair and restore. After all, when you stop eating, your digestive system expends about 60% less energy it would normally burn, doctors say.
Making Your Taste Buds Dance
And Tennessee Williams and others who practice fasting discovered another keen benefit of not eating for awhile. Nutritionally, fasting awakes your tastes buds.
It’s almost as if your taste buds say to each other — “Hey where did everybody go?” — when they no longer have any food to dance with. But when the dance begins again– when food touches your tongue after an absence– your taste buds seemingly dance for joy. Everything tastes so much more delicious. It almost feels like your taste buds are really in the mood to shake, rattle and roll.
Heightening the taste in foods is in fact the major driver in people ironically stopping to eat for a few days to a few weeks. At least that’s the observation of an owner of a health clinic that has conducted more than 5,000 supervised fasts.
He says heightened taste is a strong motivator for those suffering chronic diseases who undertake a water-only fast. In fact improving your taste is a stronger motivator for fasting than the fear of excruciating pain, the fear of a lifetime of obesity or the fear of death itself.
Don’t assume. No matter how logical it seems.
Be a leader. Think fast. Think creatively. And ponder your food for thought. In the Fast Lane.
Beware of your assumptions to keep your leadership thinking in mint condition.
SUBSCRIBE: Have a Leadership Mint delivered to your E-mail every business day. It’s free. Just click the SIGN ME UP box in the upper left column.