First Look: The Importance of Wellness

A sound body and sound mind focused on the right tasks can accomplish amazing things, and it’s in that spirit that we have instituted at POET new wellness initiatives. It is a focus on health in body, mind and spirit, and so far the response has been astounding.

Both Jeff Broin and I have, through different paths, arrived at similar conclusions about the importance of wellness to fulfilling not only a productive work life, but a productive life. As many of us have found, with age and new experiences come new perspectives.

For me, the first step toward wellness was a better understanding of the importance of physical health. When I was in my 20s, while building a family and career, I felt bullet-proof, and I devoted much of my energy to work and very little to my health. I slept 4-5 hours a night (I used to actually brag about that!). I ate what I wanted. I didn’t exercise.

So it came to be one afternoon while on a trip in the mountains with some friends that I jumped off my snowmobile. I was 335 pounds, and I sunk like a stone into chest-deep snow. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was having a heart attack.

I didn’t have that heart attack, thank goodness, but it scared me enough to turn my attention to taking better care of myself. Through better food choices and consistent portion control, I managed to lose 100 pounds over the next year.

In my 30s, my respect for health grew, and I fine-tuned my diet and exercise routine and dropped even more weight.

Now in my 40s, I find myself dealing with an illness in my family that has caused me to dig even deeper into healthy living. I firmly believe that we are what we eat, and moving from a diet of fast food and packaged food when I was young to a diet of whole food has really made a difference. I see people at POET coming to the same conclusion under the leadership of Melissa Ellefson, our new Wellness Director. I hear people talking about how great they feel and how much energy they have! I know this makes a difference not only in their lives but in the work they do at POET.

Besides physical health, a strong spiritual connection and a positive outlook in life are important to overall health.

I use my faith on a daily basis to guide me, whether it’s here at POET or in my personal life. Everyone has a purpose. We all have something that we are able to do like no one else. It warms my heart to see so many team members putting their skills to work to improve the world. I see it in how we make renewable energy and food an ever-larger part of our world. I also see it in our team members’ work in Africa, in their local communities through church or mentoring programs and in many other ways. We change the world through the work that we do by having a positive impact on people’s lives.

A good indicator that you’ve found your purpose is in the passion you have for what you are doing. If you listen carefully to what you are called to do, you’ll end up with a natural drive to want to do great things.

When these elements come together – a strong body, coupled with a positive attitude guided by a sense of purpose and spirituality – we are able to tackle anything. My personal focus on total wellness has given me a sense of calm as I deal with the ups and downs in life. I have more patience when I see changes like with today’s $40-$50 oil or the challenging drought of 2012.

I believe in our mission, and I truly believe this organization has a higher purpose. I have faith in what we are doing and where we are going. POET is a living organism, made up of each team member, farmer, investor and community member who touches some aspect of the business. Each of you is important to POET and to me. I wish each of you all health and prosperity in all that you do to make your impact in this world.




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