fitness and nutrition

Follow My Lead

I’d been on this mountain many times. I grew up in its shadow. One summer I worked at a restaurant near the foot of it and climbed it every afternoon when I got out off my shift. In peak shape I would scramble up then jog down. My fastest round trip was 28 minutes back then.

I don’t do it nearly as often or as quickly these days. I live 30 minutes away and my life practically never sends me in that direction. But I try to do a long bike ride every Sunday, so I pegged Stone Mountain for today’s ride.

There’s a hilly 5-mile loop popular with bikers that circles the bottom of the mountain. I pushed through that loop more than once before my legs begged me to stop, or at least to make a change.

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I still had time, so then, in a crazy last-second heat-addled decision, I decided to climb just like old times. I had my AirPods in, I was in the zone. A bit slower than I wanted, but I already had some miles on those legs so I wasn’t too mad. Just one foot in front of the other.

It’s not too bad a climb until you hit StairMaster hill. Suddenly the granite just kicks up from manageably rocky to sheer and steep. Like lean-forward-at-a-45-degree-angle-while-you-shuffle-up steep. I passed several people on the hill, taking breaks. My steps were small but I just kept going.

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Maybe 20 yards after the hill I needed a minute to catch my breath. I don’t usually need breaks on the mountain, but I listened to my body and stepped aside well off the trail under some trees for a quick breather.

I turned to look back at the view and was stunned when, instead of hazy skyline, I see 4 people walking directly behind me. They all stopped suddenly and looked up at me. I had never seen any of these people in my life. Two men, two women, staring. But from their pull off the trail and stunned looks, it was clear they had been following my lead. After about 10 seconds of awkwardness, they moved back into the path and continued toward the top of the mountain in two separate pairs.

It’s not surprising that I was oblivious to the people hot on my heels. Music on, mind adrift, solo exercise is my zone-out time. What I couldn’t understand is why? Why follow me? It’s a clear path with dozens of people on it. I do have that nerdy, friendly librarian look where people ask me questions all the time in all kinds of contexts. But this was a no brainer. Just keep going up.

Maybe it was my pace, I thought. Maybe I looked like I knew what I was doing. I will never know.

What stayed with me is that there are times when we are leading but we may not know it.  We may not ask for it.  We may not see ourselves as leaders.  But, at times we are leading nonetheless.  

Maybe it’s not a literal mountain.  Instead, it might be going public with struggles, with triumphs, with progress, with challenges. Just living your life on purpose is leadership. No title needed. A neighbor stopped me the other day to tell me I inspired her to get moving because she sees me out walking the neighborhood. My daughter’s childhood youth group leader recently messaged me from out if the blue to ask about CrossFit, after watching my changes.

The people following you may not know your whole story.  They probably have their own goals, even agendas.  It could be they just like your pace.  Or you look like you know what you’re doing.  

You’re leading even if people don’t tell you. Near and far, people are watching. Think for a moment. What are you leading them to?

working women

Business Isn’t for the Faint of Heart

Holy smokes are you buckled in for the ride of your life? That’s pretty much what every business owner is doing each day they wake up in the insane life we live today. They buckle up for the crazy ride just like a healthcare worker. Ready to face the unknown. Ready to deal with defeat.

Don’t get me wrong business isn’t easy on normal days but these uncharted waters are not for the weak, inexperienced or underfunded CEO’s. A business owner during this tough economic climate has got to lead with confidence, control and commitment.

They must make sound decisions, fast. They have to think about their passion, their purpose, their drive, their team, their community and they have to take action in what seems like an instant. Profit is out the door for the most part.

Lives are on the line no matter what business you are in. There is something essential in everything we do, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Life may get paused but it can’t halt forever. Leaders need to face fears. Leaders need to help people around them. Leaders must rally the troops. Selfless acts in uncertain times show character in CEOs who step up when it counts. Troubled times will also highlight those CEOs who hide or make selfish decisions when the road gets bumpy.

Many good leaders will fail during this challenging time. And if they do fail, it’s temporary. A good leader will find their way to higher ground. It may take time, but one will build resilience and emerge stronger.

To all my fellow business partners, leaders, and colleagues, I applaud you. Those tough decisions had impacts, we know that. I also know you made the decisions that caused the least impact possible to your surroundings. If failure is lurking, embrace it. Failure is just an opportunity to rebuild, rebrand, rejuvenate your passion. Your power. Your footprint.

Business owners don’t get unemployment but they help file for their employees in this challenging time. Businesses may have shut down but still paid employees for as long as they could. Restaurants stayed open to feed people when they may have lost 90% of their revenue and not know how they will make their rent next month. Landlords offered shelter to those who didn’t have funds to pay when rent was due. So many selfless acts go on each day. Many nobody will ever see.

True leaders do without glory. They do what needs to be done and worry about what ifs later. That’s what they do even if it may just be the crumbling of their lifelong work.

I also caution you to be aware of those making decisions to financially benefit themselves at another’s expense during this pandemic. In troubled times this happens when a CEO may not see the big picture. Their short term decision may have long term consequences. Price gouging and hoarding may be two prime examples that come to mind.

Many may never see the crazy shit from the CEOs eyes. I write this note for those to catch a glimpse of the insanity. The burden placed on entrepreneurs who have heavy stakes in the business game. Many think entrepreneurs have it all. In reality they risk it all including the shirt on their back. Personal savings, home equity used as personal guarantees, and so on.

It’s a tough world for everyone right now. Be a nice human. Support your communities where you can. We will all survive this mess. Some of us may have battle scars while others may have bad hair. Either way the vast majority will survive. That is enough to be thankful for.

Enjoy the shit show of today.

hustle, working women

A CEO, a Donkey and an Employee

What do the three above have in common?

Each can be considered a jackass at one point or another! Yep folks, you got it. A jackass!

Not to get off topic, but I start a post sometimes and circle back to finish it up. It could be hours later, days later or even weeks later. But I could not ignore this photo and blurb that I randomly got today….

Look closely folks. My quote said “look, somebody lost their ass on the side of the road.” Now this became a sign for me to finish this post.

Who would have guessed it? I am a jackass a lot of days as the CEO of one of my companies. I know perception isn’t often reality but for some employees their perception can be that I am an ass. I am pretty sure at least one employee has made that claim and I am sure others may in the future. I get it. It’s okay. As the CEO I sometimes have to make unpopular decisions. I sometimes have to offer counseling to employees and they may not like it. It comes with the territory of being the CEO. Taking charge of any and all situations. Most think the view from the top is the best but many don’t see the turbulence a CEO faces on the daily.

In any company, the CEO takes risks. There could be big rewards but there could also be big failures. I’ve experienced both. That’s why so many on the bottom don’t fancy the CEO at the top. Why? Because it’s a seat they will never have! Plain and simple.

Oddly enough, I wear multiple hats in a day, week or month. This gives me the unique vantage point of being an employee some days. Under a different set of circumstances, but an employee nonetheless. An employee, by definition, does a job, collects a fair wage, and completes work assigned or agreed upon for said pay. And guess what? I could actually be a jackass there, too. How could this be true? Hypothetically, I could be the manager nobody likes or respects. I could be the poor performing employee who complains about everything and everyone. I could even be the office gossip.

Whatever my role in those four walls, I am bound to be a jackass to somebody. Is it perception or reality? Maybe I’m a pay tier ahead of the one who thinks I am a jackass. Maybe I make them do more work when I am on vacation. Maybe the boss favors me more. The list could go on and on. I’m sure you get my point. Jackassery can appear amongst the rank and file as well as leadership in any company. Clearly I am using myself as an example to prove a point, but I tell you, I lived all these scenarios at one point in time or another during my professional career.

At the end of the day, a CEO has a job. Their job is to drive the vision of the company and take the company to the next level. The employees are the ones who push the paper, press the keys and provide service to clients. They are the hamsters who run the hamster wheels in whatever industry you work.

Everyone has a role in an organization. Everyone has a lane. At any given time, one of those people in the mix can be a jackass. Do you take it personally and dwell on it? No, because you can’t control it. You move on. You rise another day. You grind another day. You make new decisions as the CEO or you work hard as an employee.

If you zoom in on the jackass picture, who is the jackass? The real ass, as in the donkey? The person who created the donkey in the road mess at rush hour? Or the person driving the car that thought it was a good idea to get out of the truck and…

Well, a picture is worth a thousand words they say. I don’t have a thousand here in this post but I hope I gave you some perspective today. The grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the street, even if it looks that way at a quick glance. Not everyone is meant to be the CEO even if one makes it look easy.

Not sure how I got on the jackass theme but it was a random rant or thought that I jotted down and figured I’d publish it at some point in time. Find your path. Follow it. Don’t worry about others perception of you or your jackassery.

Again, I know plenty of folks who judge me for my choices but at the end of the day they are my choices and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Now seems like the perfect time to post this because I am a jackass. I will be one today, tomorrow and in the future. No doubt about it. I bet you have been a jackass at some point too.

Do you know a jackass?

Bonus tidbit: if you don’t want to be known as a jackass, adjust your attitude and train your mind to respect others in their roles because you never know what another person is going through or what they have on their plate. Jackassery is not just a debate, it’s a movement.

Now I am ready for a game of pin the tail on the donkey. How I love childhood memories that reflect into adulthood. Have a donkeylicious day folks!