Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Know their View is Limited

Welcome to my latest edition of my Reflections on Leadership article series, my weekly reflections 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.

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Know their View is Limited

I am training for a half marathon and went for a long run this weekend that ended up being 13.1 miles (had only planned 11!). My strategy for my first half marathon is to alternate running a mile and walking a mile. During my run I had reached the 10 mile point or so and had entered a walking period. I walked by multiple super fit people who were running around Goodale Park in Columbus, a very popular running location.

Suddenly I got a little self-conscious because I was walking and they were running. Do they think I am less fit or less of an athlete? Should I start running so I fit in?

No! I am being silly! I am 10 miles into my journey, I have a plan and I am not going to deviate from it.

That is the minute I was reminded of a key leadership concept… leaders understand that their view is limited. They know that they don’t know if that runner just started their run or if they are 10 miles in. They know that they don’t know the back-stories or the other facets of the lives of those around them.

I had an HR partner who described the situation very well. She said “everybody has stuff and you have no idea what that stuff is!” As a leader you don’t know if that person who just showed up late did so because the line at the coffee shop was too long, because there was traffic or because they decided last night to get a divorce and had to move out of their house. You just don’t know.

You only see the face that people want to show you!

So what are we as leaders supposed to do?

First off getting to know your people is a great first step. If somebody suddenly changes their behavior it is a good sign that something is going on. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to do something but the awareness is key.

Most importantly you can lead from a position of empathy and service to others. Make clear to your team that their success is your top concern and walk that talk. By trying to be a humble servant leader instead of a no-nonsense, take no prisoners hard-ass you may just make a difference. You may go from making the worst day of someone’s life worse to bringing a little sunshine into their dark moment.

Call to action: remember that you are a leader second and a person first. When somebody exhibits surprising behavior stop and reflect on it. Are they trying to be difficult or might there be something else going on that you aren’t aware of driving the behavior?

Week 62: I Accidentally Ran a Half Marathon!

While the quantity of notably accomplishments in my fitness journey was low this week, the quality was high. I had a big accomplishment that I am very excited to share!

Oops… I ran a half marathon

I mentioned last week that I have decided to sign up to run the Columbus Half Marathon in October. I have signed up and I have started training. My strategy is to alternate a mile of running with a mile of walking throughout the marathon.

Signing up for a half marathon means I am now training for a half marathon. Last weekend I did 10.7 miles and I was at the end of my range. I couldn’t have gone any further. So I decided to increase my distance very slightly during this week’s long run on Saturday. I wanted to try to get to 11 miles this week.

On Saturday morning I got up and ate a slightly larger than normal breakfast and set out for my run. 11 miles is quite the distance and I expected to cover a significant amount of ground in our wonderful city, but I didn’t have a real plan. I walked to the Scioto Audubon Park (home of the Operation Melt First Time 5k) and hopped onto the Scioto trail. This trail continues through downtown along the riverfront and ultimately forms a big loop plus there is an intersection with the Olentangy Trail which continues for over 20 miles. So when I got to the end of the Scioto Trail I got on the Olentangy for this first time ever.

Ultimately I went from German Village to the Brewery District to downtown to Grandview to Harrison West to Victorian Village to the Short North to the Arena District and then back to the Scioto Trail. It was quite the distance and had lots of fun and interesting sights. Plus the American Heart Association was doing their Heart Walk through much of downtown and I accidentally found myself cutting across the field of walkers – sorry friends!

Around the start of mile 10 it dawned on me that I was more than a mile from home so I was going to end up going more than 11 miles. That is when I made a different decision…. I decided I was going to try to do the full 13.1 miles of a half marathon. I was already 10 miles in and wasn’t feeling bad. I had a little pain here and there but nothing major.

I did it…. I ran a half marathon!

I hit the 13.1 mile mark at 2 hours and 50 minutes which is an average pace of 12:55 per mile, not bad for alternating run/walk miles! This is also much faster than the 3 hours and 30 minutes pace that I estimated when signing up for the Columbus Marathon.

When I got home I was definitely sore. I was exhausted. Plus I was starving! The run burnt over 2000 calories and my TOTAL daily calorie target is usually around 1900, so it was taxing. I did a quick stretching routine to help get the recovery process going and I drank a protein shake to start tackling the carlories. I also started drinking tons of water because I didn’t take any on my run. I hate carrying things in my hands while running so I end up not hydrating myself. I think I am going to need to figure out a solution here.

Then I proceeded to eat amazing amounts of food through the day including lunch at a BBQ place and a prime rib dinner.

As draining as the run was I was still in fine shape to walk around and do other things through the day. Yes I was more physically tired than after a normal long run but not so much so that it made me useless for the day.

I need to decide what this means for my training. Do I try to do this every weekend or should I take it a bit easier leading up to the day? I am also training for a 4-miler in 2 weeks that is NOT alternating run/walk miles so I think that needs to be my focus in the next 2 weeks to ensure I am ready for that. But I am confident, I have done a 4-mile run before. Even better I am now confident in the half marathon because I have done that before!

XL is Extra Large

My other notable moment this week was clothes shopping.

When I started this journey I was a size 52 waist, size 30 inseam and a 3XL shirt. I was super excited when I got down to an XL shirt and size 38 waist because that meant I could shop anywhere and have clothes to choose from. But that wasn’t the end of my story.

One evening this week Liz and I went to Kohl’s to shop for clothes. I used to be bored in Kohl’s because they had nothing in my size… not this time! I had tons to choose from and learned some new things about my clothing sizes.

XL shirts are too big! I am now a large or smaller depending on the shirt. That is amazing!

My waist size is holding fairly steady at 38 inches (which is 14 inches less than where I started) but I am right on the border of a 36 inch waist.

Finally is the strangest detail…. My inseam is now a 32 instead of a 30. When I wear 30 inch inseam pants (most of what I own now) they are a little too short. Is it possible that I grew in height or is it just the cut? Very strange!

So fall is just around the corner… I am going to need to buy an ENTIRE new fall wardrobe! But that means that I am going to first need to choose a look I want to go for. This is something that was never an option before. What a great additional benefit of my journey!

Check back next week for more!

Last week’s stats (8/13-8/19):
Distance walked/run: 43.28 miles (+9.31 vs. LY)
Total calories burnt: 23,990 (-5,794 vs. LY)
Total calories consumed: 15,009 (+2,580 vs. LY)
Net calories this week: -8,981 (+8,374 vs. LY)
Weight change: 2.7 pounds lost (+2.7 vs LY)
Best Weight Day: Wednesday, -128.2 total pounds down

Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Mind the Details

Welcome to my latest edition of my Reflections on Leadership article series, my weekly reflections 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.

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Mind the Details

Nearly every morning I stop at a local coffee shop, Winans Chocolates + Coffees in German Village, on my way to work. I love this place! The location is great, the people are friendly, the coffee is good and I get to observe the owner, Monica, living a leadership lesson before my very eyes!

Every morning when I stop in, if she is at this location not her second location, Monica is busy. She is either behind the counter helping the barista take care of the customers or she is out on the sales floor. She is rearranging products, creating attractive displays, cleaning and greeting customers. Because of this her store is always clean, organized and pristine.

I call this a leadership lesson because she doesn’t have to do this. Monica could just as easily work from her home office. She could sit at a table drinking coffee and work only on her computer. She could give directions to her staff to keep the store clean and organized without being hands-on herself. But she doesn’t do any of that.

Monica’s leadership behavior is that she is engaged in her business, with her team and with her customers.

Even bigger than that, Monica is tending to the details. She doesn’t step over the piece of trash that blew in the door, she picks it up. She doesn’t randomly place merchandise around the store, she creates visually pleasing displays. She minds every detail and makes sure that her customers have the best possible experience in her store.

Monica, like all great leaders, knows that details matter.

Success in any business or leadership setting is the result of hundreds of small things being done well. These small things then add up to big things which turn into results. Ignoring these details (like proofreading documents, managing projects, having processes, developing people, etc.) impairs your ability to succeed.

Let’s use an analogy to depict the problem of ignoring details. Imagine that you decide to lose weight. You decide to join a gym and you workout every day. You try to generally eat healthy too so you should be losing weight, right. What if you weren’t paying attention to the detail that you drink a couple of high calorie specialty coffee drinks per day? Very easy to forget this but you may be adding almost 1000 extra calories and harming your ability to be successful. Every detail matters!

Call to action: when you are at work today take a step back and look at all of the details that have to come together for you to be successful. Identify at least one that you have been ignoring and pay attention to it for a couple of weeks. Maybe even focus on something really simple like leaving a clean desk and computer desktop when you go home each night. See if your increased focus on the details starts generating positive results. In short unleash your inner Monica!

Week 61: R.I.P. “Little Tony”

This week is the 14 month anniversary of the start of my fitness journey. So I thought I would do something a little different with this week’s blog. Apologies in advance for not having my normal array of photos and being a little more cerebral on the content.

Earlier this week I listened to an interview with author Lise Cartwright. She was introducing a concept that she discussed in her book Mind The Chatter: Master Your Inner Voice, Gain a Positive Mindset and Get Your Power Back! that kind of intrigued me.

Like most of us Lise has an inner voice inside her head that is her critic, the voice that convinces her to avoid trying new things, the voice that holds her back… in short, the jerk that encourages her to live a life that isn’t as great as it could be.

Unlike the rest of us Lise took a different approach with this inner voice – she personified it. Lise gave her inner voice a name (Neville) and learned that saying “no” to Neville, or just calling out his behavior, was a way to quiet this inner voice. Giving your inner voice a name is a way to reduce its power over you.

So I thought I would give this a try and share it with you. Given my personal transformation over the past 14 months I thought the timing was perfect.

With that I would like to tell you a story about “Little Tony.”

“Little Tony”

I am named after my father who passed away in 2014 at age 59. That makes me a “junior”.

Throughout my childhood and early adult years my family gave me a nickname to distinguish me from my father in conversations. I was “Little Tony” and my dad was “Big Tony” and that is what I was called pretty much until I left home for college in 1995.

As I think back and reflect on the “Little Tony” nickname I kind of shudder a little bit. This nickname represents a variety of things that are less than positive to me.

It represents a time when I was living in poverty. I remember times of running extension cords across our yard to my grandmother’s house right nextdoor. This was needed because our power had been shutoff because we couldn’t afford to pay it. I remember the Christmas when we couldn’t afford gifts and wrote each other letters. I remember eating food for Thanksgiving dinner that we got through public assistance.

My parents tried to hide the situation the best they could but kids are smarter than you think. Plus they had a tell… more like a scream. The terrible financial situation led to tons of fighting between them and there we were watching that.

“Little Tony” also reminds me of being bullied in school. Kids like to find things to pick on each other about and that sticks with you. Things like not having the trendy clothes or sometimes even the cleanest clothes are an easy target. The result of bullying meant that “Little Tony” also didn’t have many friends, much self-confidence or a positive self image.

One of the top targets for “Little Tony” bullying is another thing that I am reminded of, being overweight. Really “overweight” is an under-statement… I was obese. I ate poorly and I had minimal physical activity which all led me to being over 200 pounds by the time I was in junior high.

In summary, I was a poor, overweight kid without many friends, I lived in a less-than-positive home environment and I got bullied a lot. I guess it goes without saying that “Little Tony” does not represent the best moments of my life. Unfortunately “Little Tony” has stuck with me for over 40 years.

“Little Tony” Gets a Flesh Wound

My first victory in my battle against “Little Tony” happened 20 years ago in 1998.

That was the year that I graduated college and started a great high-paying job. This was the moment that marked the turning point in “Little Tony’s” power of poverty. From that point until today I have been in a near constant state of forward progression and have broken free from the grip that poverty had.

I was on a path to economic prosperity. This path wasn’t without its ups and downs, but it was something that I could hang my self-confidence on for many years to come.

“Little Tony” Takes Another Critical Blow… But is still kicking.

Starting around the same time, in 1998, I started escaping from another one of the negative grips that “Little Tony” had on my life. I built my friendship with Liz which turned into the love of friends and ultimately the love of partners in life.

Liz was one of the first people in my life to love me for who I was, who I was becoming and who I may ultimately be. She loved me for me and that was new.

In 2001 Liz and I got married and are still deeply in love and partners in life today.

This marked a turning point in my life without many friends. I was worth being loved by others and started building many friendships from that point forward.

Today I am loved by many people and “Little Tony” no longer has a hold on that part of my life.

“Little Tony’s” Last Stand

The final area where “Little Tony” had power over me was in my health & obesity.

I allowed “Little Tony” to convince me that it was ok to eat whatever I wanted. I allowed him to influence me into avoiding exercise and hard work. I chose “Little Tony” over seeing my doctor and caring for myself. I even started taking “Little Tony’s” side and joking about my poor health and decisions.

I wasn’t completely aware but “Little Tony” was working to kill me and was making great progress!

A few of the affects that “Little Tony’s” continued success was having on me include:

  • I couldn’t walk up stairs without getting winded.
  • I had dangerously high blood pressure and didn’t know it.
  • I had to worry about every chair I sat in – would it hold me?
  • I had to choose from a very small assortment of very expensive clothing options.
  • I had to say “I can’t” to many physical activities that I wasn’t capable of engaging in at my size.
  • I was always worried when standing in front of a group of people and presenting – are they listening or judging me?
  • I was always concerned that those strangers on the street were actually laughing at me.
  • Hating looking at myself in mirrors and in pictures.
  • Feeling like I will never NOT be the fat guy in the room.

The list of “Little Tony’s” affects goes on and on! But the worst one was that, independent of all of the progress and successes I had in my life, I still struggled with my self-confidence. I wouldn’t stand up and say “this is what I want” and I wouldn’t let myself set big goals because there was no way I thought I’d achieve them.

“Little Tony” Succumbs to his Wounds

Over the past couple of years I had started becoming aware of “Little Tony’s” influence.

I think watching “Big Tony” die was part of that awareness.

I was on the path to the same terrible end as “Big Tony” faced. Wasting away, mostly alone, in the ICU and losing my life before age 60 at the hands of “Little Tony.” I think watching “Big Tony” fade away from this life without any control of his own demise was a big part of me opening my eyes… particularly when I turned 40!

That all changed over this past year. After many years of striking “Little Tony” with attacks, he finally lost his battle with me. As a result “Little Tony” is no longer with us in this world.

I am finally free from the hold that “Little Tony” had on me and now I am unstoppable!

Dancing on “Little Tony’s” Grave

Because I am finally free from “Little Tony” I no longer hold myself back from trying new things.

I started and stuck to my Operation Melt project with amazing results. I have lost nearly 130 pounds in 14 months, that is 40% of my initial bodyweight. I have decreased my waist size by 14 inches. I have decreased my high blood pressure back into the normal range. I have decreased my average resting heart rate from the mid-80s to the mid-50s and improved my overall cardio health score. Plus I have dropped to just 17% body fat!

I also engage in athletic pursuits for the first time in my life and challenge myself to achieve new performance goals each time. I have now run 3 5k races improving my time with each run. I am working on being able to do unassisted pull-ups. I can now do push-ups. Most recently, this weekend I challenged myself to run over 10 miles to prove to myself that I was ready to sign-up for the Columbus Half Marathon… which I now have done!

Most importantly I have done some things that “Little Tony” would have stopped me from before. Those things where “Little Tony” would have said “who the hell do you think you are, you can’t do that!” For example I wrote a book that I am planning to launch later this year and am working on a second eBook that I plan to launch even sooner. Plus I have started sharing inspirational, motivational and personal development content with the world on a regular basis and have readers.

I even built a vision statement for my Operation Melt company to-be: creating a world where goals never die of loneliness.

I hav broken free from “Little Tony” and I am showing the world that I have a voice, I have a contribution and I can do great things!

I Believe in Ghosts

While “Little Tony” may be dead the is definitely reasons to fear his ghost. Old habits die hard and we each carry baggage with us through life. We just have to be aware we are doing it.

For example I will sometimes make financial decisions that are not the most lucrative because I want to maintain cash savings. This comes from seeing and living the impacts of not having savings when problems occur. I know in the reasonable side of my brain that money in investments is just as available as money in savings but the ghost of “Little Tony” sometimes speaks to me from beyond-the-grave and tries to convince me otherwise.

This exactly same risk exists with my new fit and healthy life. If I let me guard down “Zombie Little Tony” could come after me. That is why I cannot treat this journey like something with a finite end and that is where the project analogy ceases. This is an ongoing, forever focus for me and I need to continue to find ways to recommit to it each day.

I will not allow “Little Tony” to come back from the grave and try to eat my powerful (and probably juicy & delicious) brain!

Check back next week for more!

Last week’s stats (8/6-8/12):
Distance walked/run: 35.94 miles (+8.5 vs. LY)
Total calories burnt: 22,998 (-4,461 vs. LY)
Total calories consumed: 15,545 (+3,185 vs. LY)
Net calories this week: -7,453 (+7,646 vs. LY)
Weight change: 1.3 pounds GAINED (+4.4 vs LY)
Best Weight Day: Saturday, -127.6 total pounds down

Reflections on Leadership: Are you a Leader?

Welcome to my latest edition of my Reflections on Leadership article series, my weekly reflections 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.

Weekly Inspiration

 

Are You A Leader?

I am going to keep it short this week but I wanted to briefly visit a key leadership topic. Are you a leader?

I write Reflections on Leadership in hopes that something I have learned about leadership can help you be a better leader. I know that I say that a lots and that there are some of you who think about that statement a little differently. Some of you think to yourself that “I will keep this in mind for when I become a leader.”

Similarly if I ask some people “are you a leader?” the reaction will be something like “no, I am just a…” and then they share a job title. I guess I understand that since there are some companies who reserve the word “leader” for individuals in certain positions or at certain levels in the company.

My friends, please do not believe this! Leadership does not require a specific job, level, role or any similar bureaucratic structure. Leadership requires action!

You can be a leader at any station in life. You can be a leader in your job but you can also be a leader as a mentor, in your church, in a volunteer organization, in your gym or just in your everyday life.

I think John Quincy Adams described leadership perfectly when he said “if your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.”

Can you do that?

I grant you that it isn’t easy but it is very worthwhile. Anybody can be a leader you just have to step up and show leadership. Leadership is within reach for any person who works hard and chooses to grab it.

I am not currently in a formal “leadership” position in my job. Does that mean that I am not a leader? It absolutely does not mean that.

  • In my job I work to provide leadership in any situation where my leadership is valuable.
  • I work to provide leadership through publishing these weekly Reflections on Leadership.
  • I work to provide leadership to people who are considering or engaging in a fitness journey through various venues.
  • I provide leadership through a variety of volunteer opportunities.
  • I provide leadership through mentoring others.

Those are just a few of the ways that I try to earn my leadership every day as Michael Jordan suggested. Not one of the ways I mentioned above involves me holding a director job or even a manager role in an organization. All of those ways involve me trying to be of service to others and helping others to become the best versions of themselves.

What are you doing to earn your leadership today?

Call to Action: be a leader, do it today, don’t wait to be in a “leadership” position. Find an opportunity to serve somebody else and step up to the leadership opportunity that is calling your name. It won’t be easy but it will certainly be worth it!