Reflections on Leadership: Leaders Take Ownership

Weekly Inspiration

Leaders Take Ownership

Earlier this week I went out for lunch. I went to a semi fast food restaurant that will remain nameless but the specialize in baked goods, salads, soups and sandwiches. I walked up to the counter and ordered a “choose 2” combo with a half sandwich and a small salad. These combos come with a choice of side: apple, chips or a baguette. There is also an option to pay a bit extra and get a fruit cup on the side. Which I did.

I know that is a lot of detail about my lunch… hard-hitting story, huh? I just wanted to share to help set the stage for the rest of my story.

This restaurant has a strange operational process where the fruit cup is given to you by the cashier instead of the people who make the food. Because this is a one-off process and not many people order fruit cups, I find that they often forget. I simply remind the person at the food counter and he or she grabs it for me.

This week this process repeated itself again but with a slightly different result.

When I mentioned “I should have a fruit cup with this” the response from the person behind the counter was “you get that down there”. Then she gestured towards the cashiers.

Her expectation was that I would walk back down to the cashier, jump in front of all of the other people waiting in line and say “I need a fruit cup.” This was instead of reaching into the cooler that was 5 feet away and grabbing it herself.

Said differently her answer was “that’s not my job.”

I share this story because it is a good example of poor leadership.

A good leader never makes their organization’s internal processes and mistakes the customer’s problem. A good leader takes ownership of the situation and addresses the problem. A great leader will then look for the root cause and see if they can prevent the problem in the future.

A good leader never tells a customer “that’s not my job.”

Call to Action: is there someplace that you should be taking ownership in your job and improving your customer’s experience? Did you just walk over a piece of trash that you could have picked up? Did you walk by the broken printer and not call it in? Little things such as these add up to great leadership!

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 64: A Proud Moment

This was a big week for me because of one big moment. One more goal accomplished. One very proud moment. That moment is the focus of this week’s update.

Flashback: September 2017

I have been going to the Columbus Oktoberfest for years. It is one of my favorite things to do every year. I love the music, I love the food, I love the beer, I love the fall theme, I love the culture and pretty much everything else about this event. Plus one of the event organizers, Wayne, and his wife Willa are our married couple role models. We hope we are half as happy and fun as they are when we get into our mid-70s.

There is one aspect of Oktoberfest that I never engaged in and went as far as mocking it for years: the “brat trot”. The event always starts with a Meiler Vier or 4-mile run. I was so disengaged from this event that I thought it was just a 5k. It was never something of interest to me in the many years I have attended this event. That all changed last year…

Last year as I arrived at the festival I posted that update on Facebook. At that stage in my journey I was down 46 total pounds and heading towards 50. I wasn’t a runner by any means but had started peppering in a touch of running into my walks, but no more than a quarter mile at most.

To be clear this was a stretch goal for me at the time. I had no idea if I would be able to run a 5k (what I thought the distance was) by September of this year. But I decided I was going to try to be ready a year later and that I would put it out in the universe. I wasn’t going to let fear stop me from setting a goal.

Plus it would allow me to even more fully enjoy my favorite event!

One Year Later

Back to current day… it is Oktoberfest weekend…. The most wonderful time of the year!

I was all signed up for the race and picked up my packet including my bib (complete with coupons for free beer and free Schmidt’s sausage), my free parking pass and a great performance athletic shirt. So I was set for the race.

I worked to prepare my body through the back part of the week. My last run for the week was on Wednesday morning and I took Thursday as a rest day and refrained from working out on Friday morning too. Through the day on Friday I adjusted my diet per some articles that I read the essentially had me adjust the timing of my normal meals. The goal was that my body was fueled the same way as a normal run day at race time.

We hit the road to head to the fest at 5p on Friday afternoon and, as you would expect, the traffic sucked and I got there a bit later than I had hoped. But I was still plenty early enough to have plenty of standing around time. Seriously though, I like hanging out with the energy of the other runners. Plus we had some friends meet us at the festival to cheer me on…. And then to drink with us afterwards.

At 6:20 the Alpine horns sounded and the race started. The route was 2 laps around the Ohio State Fairgrounds and through the Oktoberfest pavilions. There were about 520 runners so it was a pretty big race and a massive herd of runners traveling through the course. The route turned out to only be 3.54 miles not the full 4.

In the third mile I started getting a little tired but I pushed through. I ran the whole time without walking which was my goal. Plus, my pace was 9:49 per mile which is a new record and even faster than I had planned as I just wanted to get under 10 minutes average.

One of my favorite moments was in the last quarter mile when a friend of mine setup an informal hydration station for me. He ran out and handed me half a beer… it is Oktoberfest afterall!

I finished, I was fast, I had fun and I checked another goal off my list!

And this was a special goal for me, so I am extra proud of myself! So another medal added to the collection.

Plus we all got to enjoy Oktoberfest afterwards.

Next up: my first half marathon! I am running in the Columbus Marathon on October 21.

Check back next week for more!

Last week’s stats (8/27-9/2):
Distance walked/run: 35.2 miles (+3.9 vs. LY)
Total calories burnt: 21,894 (-6,207 vs. LY)
Total calories consumed: 16,212 (+4,958 vs. LY)
Net calories this week: -5,682 (+11,165 vs. LY)
Weight change: 3.4 pounds lost (+5.2 vs LY)
Best Weight Day: Wednesday, -128.4 total pounds down

Week 63: Not a Great Fitness Week

After being so excited to share my results last week this week was kind of a let-down.

My half marathon last weekend was great, my clothes shopping experience was pretty cool and I had quite the success high. Unfortunately this week wasn’t anywhere near as successful and highlighted some opportunities for improvement.

Bad Habits Creeping In

I have noticed my average daily calories starting to tick up a little bit. This weekend at the lake I had back to back days of exceeding my target calorie budget by several hundred calories. This is something that is new to me on my journey. Over the past 15 months I have not allowed myself to exceed my target like that but I am letting myself do it now. I need to stop that immediately!

It is harder to achieve the level of calorie burn now that I did last year. I am smaller and my body burns fewer calories at rest. The same exercises also burn fewer calories as my body becomes more efficiency. Plus I don’t really have tons of opportunity to increase exercise beyond what I am doing now because I exercise quite a bit. So I need to work more diligently at managing my habits and ensuring that I stay focused.

For example, sitting at a bar and watching football all afternoon like I did yesterday results in my caloric intake skyrocketing. Snacking and drinking are both bad habits that risk undoing my progress if I am not careful. I need to work on altering my approach to both over the next few weeks.

As a result of my habits, my weight has pretty much stalled. I fluctuate up and down through the week based on my daily sodium intake but am not losing a material amount of weight overall. I am still about 7 pounds from my final goal when I will switch to maintenance mode, so I have to get back on track.

I have to remember that it is our choices that shape our destiny. So I need to make sure I am continuing to make good choices just like I have done for the past 15 months. I am not taking my foot off the gas now!

Some Runs Suck

As I have talked about often I offset my calorie intake through exercise. My go-to exercise has become running and I try to run at least 3-4 times per week. Usually Monday morning before work, Wednesday morning before work and Saturday morning long runs are my minimum amours of running. Tuesday mornings I am in the gym with my trainer focused heavily on weight training and HIIT circuit training. Thursday’s are kind of a coin toss if I run, walk or lift. Friday’s are usually rest days to prep for Saturday long runs. Sundays are also usually rest days for recovery, writing and relaxing.

Last week I had a phenomenal long run on Saturday that really built my confidence for the Columbus Half Marathon in October. I was able to run the full half marathon distance last Saturday unexpectedly when I had only planned to run 11. As I mentioned last week, when I say “run” for the marathon I mean alternating miles of running (under 10-minute mile pace) and walking (about 15-minute mile pace).

So, coming off that running success high, I went out Monday morning for my run after using Sunday for rest and recovery. It sucked! Everything hurt, I was uncomfortable, I was slow and I hated every minute of my run. It was too hot and humid even at 6:15 in the morning which just drained my energy. Plus I should have given myself multiple recovery days after the 13.1 miles plus on Saturday.

Then came my long run Saturday again yesterday. I am putting marathon training on the back burner because I have another race sooner than that. This coming Friday evening I have the Columbus Oktoberfest 4-mile run. This run is at 6:15 on a Friday evening, goes 2 laps around the Ohio state fairgrounds and ends with sausage and beer. So I need to prepare for that race before continuing my marathon prep which is still almost 2 months away.

Just to be clear I have run 4 miles before so this isn’t completely new to me. Plus my go-to distance for some time has been a 5k run with is less than a mile short of the 4 mile run. So preparing for this run should be easy, right?

Saturday morning I got up (after a late Friday night of beer and bourbon) and ate some breakfast. I drank some water and a cup of coffee. All of these are my normal pre-run preparations so I didn’t change anything here. I wasn’t experimenting with anything and I was sticking with tried and true.

I started with a walk to get warmed up and then stopped at the park to do some lunges, push-ups and jumping jacks. So far I am still following my normal routine and not mixing it up or anything. This stuff works for me and I stick by it.

Then I started running around the island chain at Indian Lake. My goal was to run a full 4 miles without stopping to walk. After 4 miles I was going to push myself to go further until I couldn’t go any more. I had my running music on and I was feeling good and started out at a good pace of around 9:30 per mile. That is a little fast for me but not too bad and I could slow down if I needed.

I didn’t even make it 2 miles before having to slow down to walk for a short distance. That was very disappointing!

I don’t know what my problem was but I was running out of gas pretty quickly. It wasn’t even that hot but I felt sluggish and tired. In retrospect I think I had not had enough water in me and started off a bit dehydrated and it was all downhill from there. I ultimately finished the 4 miles and then some, but my speed was bad. I was just over 11 minutes for my average mile instead of my goal of under 10.

I am going to give it another try in Monday since it is a bonus long weekend day and I don’t have time pressures. Hopefully my Sunday rest day and being plenty hydrated will fix my problem.

But the big lesson learned here is that some runs just suck!

Check back next week for more!

Last week’s stats (8/20-8/26):
Distance walked/run: 43.6 miles (-0.5 vs. LY)
Total calories burnt: 23,139 (-7,859 vs. LY)
Total calories consumed: 16,651 (+2,272 vs. LY)
Net calories this week: -6,488 (+10,131 vs. LY)
Weight change: 1 pounds GAINED (+4.8 vs LY)
Best Weight Day: Tuesday/Wednesday, -128.6 total pounds down