Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Fail Forward

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Fail Forward

Throughout the month of February I have been sharing inspirational quotes and thoughts about the topic of failure. Failure is a difficult concept to see inspirationally but it is an important topic. It is often misunderstood.

Let’s start with a little secret: leaders fail.

In our social media fueled world it is easy to get caught up in the highlight reels of peoples lives. But that just isn’t accurate. People have setbacks, they have bad days and they have failures just like they have successes. Failure is a fact of life even if people aren’t bragging about it on Instagram.

Leaders look at failure a bit differently. Yes, they hate to fail. Nobody likes to fail. So don’t get me wrong that failure feels good because it doesn’t.

That said great leaders know that failure is a critical part of success.

There are countless of sources that have explained why failure is important to success. But two of my favorites are:

  • “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas A. Edison
  • “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” Henry Ford

I like these two quotes because they demonstrate a crucial fact about failure. Every failure is a step closer to success. You learn what doesn’t work. You have more information available to plan your next steps. The act of failing today makes your probability of success greater tomorrow. It is called failing forward!

I have failed many times. But every one of those failures equipped me to try a new path and my end result was better than it would have been otherwise.

The beneficial aspect of failure leading to bigger successes is why I have dubbed this month Fail Forward February.

One last point: failure is a critical requirement for innovation. If you don’t believe me, just listen to Albert Einstein – who was definitely an innovator:

If you’ve never failed, you’ve never tried anything new

Call to Action: do your best to succeed every day. But when, not if, you fail spend some time reflecting on the lessons in that failure. Take those lessons and apply them to the next iteration of your plan!

About Reflections on Leadership

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My goal for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all the obstacles to achieving your goals. Helping you become a better leader is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision…

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a share on social media or message me directly.

Join my email list to have weekly Operation Melt updates delivered to your inbox: https://OperationMelt.com/mail/

Week 86: Back on Track

I mentioned last week (Week 85) and the week prior (Week 84) that the deep freeze in Columbus drove me to basically hibernate and to not be as active as I should be. I am happy to say, after 2 weeks of less than stellar performance, I started getting back on track this week.

Weather Makes a Difference

There were 2 mornings this week when I woke up at 5:15 and discovered that the temperature outside was nearly 50 degrees. This 50-degree weather follows a week where we had single-digit high temperatures in Columbus. As a result I continue to learn how much the weather makes a difference in a fitness lifestyle.

Instead of last week’s hibernation and hiding from the weather I actually was able to have early morning outdoor runs twice this week. One of the runs was in the rain but that didn’t bother me at all. I just put on a rain jacket and went out in the rain.

The result was 2 great runs on Wednesday and Thursday and an amazing view of the rain soaked and densely foggy Schiller Park – have I mentioned that I love fog? The decision to go out and run despite conditions not being perfect was even the inspiration for this weeks Reflections on Leadership article.

Foggy morning run at Schiller Park

Unfortunately this means that I ran on consecutive days which I try very hard not to do because my body needs time to recover. Remember the “aging athlete” comment (http://www.operationmelt.com/2018/09/23/week-66-i-dont-give-myself-enough-credit/) from my doctor? But it seemed to work out ok this week with pretty much zero pain.

Me killing it on my morning run!

Though I usually only report my metrics a week behind I am going to pause to brag about running 17 total miles this week. That is way more than my 10 miles per week goal!

Music Makes a Difference

During my Thursday morning run I rediscovered that music makes a big impact on my performance.

I was nearing the end of my run and was in the final leg of my run around the park. Just then shuffle found some of my favorite running songs. The music pushed me to run another full lap around the park which added about another three-quarters of a mile to my total run. I ended up running over a 5k and being a little late for work – totally worth it!

This was just one of several instances this week when music made a big impact on me and my mood, my performance, my focus or my emotions. I am an incredibly music driven and its impact on me amazes me every time!

Killing it in the Gym

Not only did I get back to running this week I also killed it in the gym on Saturday morning for almost 2 hours.

My #Sweaturday workout this week … torched about 1500 calories in 2 hours!

I did a short, light warm-up run on the treadmill. Then I spent 40 minutes doing a weight lifting circuit that started with some body weight exercises including push-ups on a Bosu ball, deadlifts, bench press, cable chest presses and more. Then, just when the average person would have said “I’m done,” I got back on the treadmill for a 5-mile run.

I ran for an hour and hit a distance of more than 5 miles. I had planned to stop at 45 minutes but then, yet again, a string of great music played on my running playlist and pushed me further.

Almost Here: Operation Melt the Book!

My book is essentially done!

I have a couple of more edits to fold in and then we will call the first edition ready to sell. It has been an exciting 2 weeks of finishing the cover design, finishing my acknowledgements, adding a final chapter about bringing the weight loss journey to a close. Plus ever edit results in a new export to ePub format and it is a real book! I have thoroughly enjoyed watching this book come to life and am excited to share it soon.

Here is something that a lot of authors would never do – I am going to give you a semi-real-time view into my plans and thoughts. I have spent some time working on my rollout plan and have the basics figured out. My plan is to publish the first edition within the next 4-6 weeks in eBook format only. I am planning to start selling through OperationMelt.com for a short period of time first and then to expand to iTunes and Amazon and maybe more. I am going to let the eBook sell for a while and learn from the reviews. Then, after 2-3 months of eBook sales, I am planning to release the second edition in both eBook and paperback.

Hopefully by this time next week I can announce a target release date and maybe even start taking pre-orders. But that may be a little ambitious because there are still some mechanical and other aspects that I need to try to figure out this week.

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (1/28-2/3):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 198.3 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 4 miles
Total walk/run miles: 26.8 miles
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
Yoga 1+ times per week: skipped due to weather
One race per month: January 5k complete on 1/1, no February race scheduled
Continue to track & manage calories: 3,121 calories under budget

Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Don’t Wait for Perfection

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Don’t Wait for Perfection

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this week but I had an experience that made this topic jump out at me. I will tell my story and then talk about the leadership lesson.

I woke up in the morning and looked at the temperature and our Columbus winter warm snap was continuing — it was almost 50 degrees at 5:30. It would be the perfect morning to get suited up and go for an outdoor run. Unfortunately I looked outside and it was raining pretty steadily and fog was building so thick that I couldn’t see a full block ahead of me.

The morning weather was definitely not the ideal running conditions so I had a choice to make:

  1. Skip the run and make it a rest day and hope for the best tomorrow
  2. Don the hat and rain jacket and go out anyway

I bet you already guessed how this story ends:


I decided not to let the less-than-perfect weather hold me back. I have goals to achieve (less than 90 days until my next half marathon) and I was going to go out for my run.

After making the hard choice not to accept the easy path I ended up having a phenomenal run. It felt great, I kept a steady pace and enjoyed the sights along the way – I love fog! It also led me to have an epiphany about leadership….

Leaders have a similar choice — they can spend a lifetime waiting for conditions to be perfect or just start moving. The best leaders have a goal, have a basic plan and just start moving. As they progress towards their goal they refine the plan as needed. In project management we call this progressive elaboration and rolling wave planning.

For leaders to accomplish big goals they have to commit and go – they focus on speed before perfection.

Call to Action:stop waiting for perfection and push yourself and your team to take a step forward. It might be scary to start moving without knowing everything but it doesn’t get any less scary as you watch the days fly by without progress.

About Reflections on Leadership

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision…

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a comment on this post, a share on social media or message me directly.

Week 85: Deeper Freeze & More Hibernation

I talked last week about how the super cold weather led to me choosing to essentially hibernate instead of staying active with my exercise goals. Guess what? The temperatures in Columbus fell even further this week and this wasn’t the turnaround week I had hoped it would be.

Fortunately I did manage to get into the gym on Friday and Saturday so that is something. Plus the temperatures in Columbus are forecasted for a big turnaround today and will be near 50. I am going to celebrate the glimpse of warmth with an outside run. I just have to avoid the melting snow, slush and remaining ice and stay safe.

While I didn’t have many meaningful fitness updates this week I did have a couple of interesting experiences this week.

I Look Good!

Throughout this journey people have told me that I look good and have frequently given me compliments – no that is not a #HumbleBrag. But there has never been a time where I thought “yeah, I am looking good” because that is just not how my brain works. In fact I don’t believe there has ever been I time when I looked in the mirror and thought that.

On Friday I caught a glimpse of myself in a full-length mirror and everything was just working. I was wearing good fitting jeans, a slim fit shirt and a nice sweater. It all just came together and I really liked what I saw.

I looked good!

So I tried to get a good picture of myself to share and I just couldn’t replicate the lighting and perspective I had. I even tried taking a picture in a restaurant bathroom where the lighting was good and had an embarrassing moment when somebody walked in. But the following pic is the best I came up with from all of my tries.

Don’t I look good? You don’t need to answer that because I know the answer!

Before & After & After

During the last week of January a year ago my wife and I worked to create some good before & after pictures from my journey. I was really starting to show physical changes from my weight loss and I thought it would be a good time to show some side-by-side photos. You know, like ya do in a journey like this.

In my weekly blog on 1/28/2018 (Week 32: I am killing it!) I included the following side-by-side / before & after picture. This was taken at Barcelona Restaurant before I started my journey and then 32 weeks into it.

This week was exactly one year later and we happened to be sitting in the same seats – creatures of habit I guess. So I thought it would be a good time to share an updated version.

One year can make a big difference and I couldn’t be happier with my progress.

Some added fun in this pic is the progress of my posture. I think it looks like those evolution of man photos that show the progress from caveman to modern man. Or is that just the way my broken brain works?

Book Progress

Finally I am pretty excited because I made lots of progress with my book this week. I have fixed some layout things and created at least a working draft of my cover art. I added some additional visual elements in the book and have the eBook version close to ready for a launch. I just need to figure out a solution for how to prepare the print version too.

Stay tuned as I expect some big news here soon!

Thanks for reading!

Last week’s stats (1/21-1/27):

Maintain avg. weight of 189-199 pounds: 197.7 lbs average
Run 10+ miles per week: 3 miles
Total walk/run miles: 23.6 miles (one of my lowest ever!)
Weight training 2-3 times per week: 1 workout
Yoga 1+ times per week: class cancelled due to weather
One race per month: January complete, no February race scheduled
Continue to track & manage calories: 851 calories under budget

Reflections on Leadership: How Not to be a Jerk – Part 3

Weekly Inspiration

How Not to be a Jerk Part 3

I am publishing this week’s Reflections on Leadership a day late. I am doing this because yesterday was a big day and I had a special blog post to share. But I still wanted to share part 3 of my series about how not to be a jerk.

Just as a reminder this series is based on my new favorite (and made up) quote.

“Leadership is tough, but it’s tougher if you’re a jerk!”

Let’s start by pausing to recap what I have shared so far. In the first post I talked about how leaders can avoid being a jerk by treating others as equals. Last week I talked about how leaders need to be approachable so they don’t discourage people from interacting with them.

In this week’s final edition I am going to talk about the things you can do as a leader to best be of service to others. When you are serving others you definitely can’t be a jerk!

  • Think. The Focus 3 Team who created the R Factor talk a lot about Above the Line behavior. This behavior is based on deliberate leadership behavior versus operating on autopilot which often leads to B-C-D behaviors (blame, complain, defend). When leaders pause to think “what does this situation require of me” versus just acting on impulse the results are almost always better. If you stop to think about the situation at hand and react accordingly it is much more difficult to be a jerk.
  • Be honest with yourself and others. Leaders are only as good as their word. When a leader lies to people they are absolutely a jerk. If you are honest with those who you are serving you are taking an important first step to not being a jerk. Don’t forget that being honest with others starts with being honest with yourself first. Know your strengths, know your weaknesses and be honest about both!
  • Ask for help. When you are honest with yourself you know where you could use a hand to offset your weaknesses to get the best results. Use this knowledge and ask for help. When you approach somebody and ask for help you are showing them 2 important things: you trust them enough to be vulnerable and they matter to you. Asking for help not only gets more done but it also goes a long way to building stronger relationships and avoiding being seen as a jerk who goes it alone.
  • Focus on your own growth, development and humility. Invest time and energy in your own growth, particularly your growth as a leader, pays huge dividends with your team and helps you address your areas of opportunity. Plus showing others that you care enough and have enough humility to work on your own development models the behavior that you are looking for in them. Again it is hard to be a jerk when you are openly trying to improve your skills to be a better leader.
  • Teach and help others grow. As you are working to develop your own skills you should also be helping your team do the same. By teaching others, mentoring and finding other development opportunities you are showing your team that you are investing in them. When is the last time you thought somebody investing in you was a jerk?
  • Say kind words and tell people what they are great at. People need positive reinforcement. People need affirmation to know what they are good at. People want to be treated as though they are special … because they are. Take a minute to say a kind word to people. When you see somebody do something they are good at then tell them. Life is too short not to be nice and complementary… but make sure you are being honest and not just blowing smoke.
  • Show your team that they are important to you, you would be nowhere without them. I had a boss once who got a big promotion in the company. As he was sharing the good news with us he thanked us each individually and actually shed a few tears. He explained that it was us who made the promotion possible and that he owed his success to us. This is the case for every leader. Your success is not your success alone and you owe it to the people who are getting the results on your behalf. Never forget to show your team that they are important, remind them that you owe your success to them and that you aren’t a jerk who believes you could be successful without them.

Call to Action: first off, thank you so much for reading my How Not to be a Jerk series. I appreciate you spending some of your precious time reading my thoughts on how to be a better leader. Please try some of the tactics I have shared in this 3-part series and try to make it easier to be a good leader.

About Reflections on Leadership

Reflections on Leadership is my weekly article series reflecting on what it means to be a great leader. I hope that these thoughts can help you with your own leadership development journey.

My mission for Operation Melt is to help you melt away all of the obstacles to achieving your goals, not just your fitness goals. So, helping us all become better leaders is fully aligned with that mission. Maybe this will help achieve the Operation Melt vision…

To create a world where goals never die of loneliness.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your perspective on this topic, my Reflections on Leadership series or anything else via a comment on this post, a share on social media or message me directly.