In a client meeting last week on the West Coast of America I realised every other male over the age of 45 in the room was wearing a Nike Fuelband. I had been given one last year, but never used it.
But this seemed like a gentle push between the shoulder blades. So when I got off the plane home I charged the Fuelband up and decided I would give it six weeks to see if it was for me.
The benefit that has most struck me is not the one I had been expecting. I had read a lot about the ‘Quantified Self’, and while I can understand that for many this is a useful way to keep motivated and set goals, that is proving less interesting to me personally. I know that many like the Fuelband’s linking to a community, and measuring progress against peers, but again this leaves me relatively unmoved. I like the fact that it lets me see the difference a walk vs a taxi makes, but I could get this from a pedometer.
No, the benefit that I am most struck by is a different kind entirely. ‘We are the stories we tell about ourselves’ is a concept from psychology that describes how we reinforce self-perceptions in the narratives we tell about ourselves. If I have a habit of saying ‘I am bad at presentations’, to slightly over-simplify, then I increase my tendency to present poorly: I will be more nervous and apologetic, and too reliant on the PowerPoint slides I use as a crutch.
Men don’t wear bracelets, by and large. So seeing that electronic sophistication on my usually naked wrist tells me a story about myself every time I see it—a story very particular to my age and context: That I have made a commitment to fight the fifties. That I am serious about it. That this commitment will endure past the unfortunate incident with the vodka luge at the party on Saturday night. And by telling me that story, it makes me more likely to put on my running shoes tomorrow.
Five weeks to go. Let’s see if the story sticks.
Adam Morgan is founding partner eatbigfish. Follow him on Twitter @eatbigfish.