Ironman Texas was this past weekend in The Woodlands.  It is one of my favorite weekends of the year!  There are so many moving and powerful aspects to the weekend that I always come away motivated and fulfilled.  My two takeaways from this weekend are…

Inspirational - What these athletes accomplish in an Ironman is a special feat unto itself.  Many of them have special circumstances, unique stories and difficult places from which they have come.  In every single case, it is absolutely inspirational.  Seeing what people overcame, endure and push themselves to accomplish was amazing!  I knew a few first timers and several returning athletes this year.  Each had their own story and reason for this pursuit.  They have now accomplished something few others ever will.  I am just proud to know them and be inspired by them.

Volunteerism – Each year we are in charge of an aid station on the run.  It takes 120+ people and over 15 hours of hard work to put on what we like to think of as an event for the athletes.  We do it for them and we do it for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  It is so fulfilling!  The athletes are so appreciative.  We know that what we do for them can make the difference in when, and maybe if, they finished.  But what they did for us was just as important!

We were blessed to be part of such an incredible event and to support such impressive athletes!



Once there was an Army sergeant and a private who were doing survival training in the Rocky Mountains.  As they made their way through the woods, suddenly they encountered a really big, really angry, grizzly bear.  The bear was focused on attacking them!  Quickly the sergeant sat down, ripped off his heavy hiking boots, removed some running shoes from his backpack and put them on, as he was hurriedly lacing them up, the private stood there watching.  "Excuse me, sir," he said.  "Do you really think you're going to be able to out run that bear?"  "Well, private, I don't have to out run the bear," replied the sergeant."  "I only have to out run you."

If there had ever been any trust in that relationship it was gone in an instant!  Trust is critical in relationships.  Employee and employer relationships require it.  Husband and wife relationships are built on it.  Parent and child relationships strive for it.  Trust is a foundational element of successful relationships.

Trust is earned through patient investment and long association in a relationship. However, it can be destroyed in an instant.  We destroy trust in all sorts of ways...

·         By not doing what we said we would do
·         By not saying what's really on our minds
·         By asking for input when it's obvious we've already made up our minds
·         By making up an answer rather than admitting that we don't know
·         By allowing our actions to be inconsistent with our words

Don’t destroy the trust you have established, it is difficult to re-build; strive to develop trust that you may not have yet attained, it is key in relationships.  Trust is what other people invest in you, based on your integrity.  Trust is their absolute confidence that you are truthful and reliable. 



Never underestimate the power of praise.  I have wrote before about making sure that praise is given in public.  More importantly, make sure that praise is given period.  It is a huge motivator for people.  For many it can be more powerful than money or advancement.  There is just something warm and positive about being recognized for a job well done.  For managers it may even make sense to combine both praise and constructive feedback in the same conversation.  It can lessen the impact of the negative and help provide motivation for improvement.  This is not just about your role at work.  It applies to home life and as well as any volunteers roles you may have.  You do not want to be known only as a negative critic.  The bottom line is that praise should be a daily part of a good leader’s routine.  Consider this quote…

“I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station, who did not do better work and put forth greater effort, under a spirit of approval than a spirit of criticism.”
-       Charles Schwab


Leadership is a Process

The leader has to be practical and a realist, yet must talk 
the language of the visionary and the idealist.
--Eric Hoffer        

I do not know Eric Hoffer, but in this quote he has nailed one of the key challenges of leadership.  Good leaders must be able to relate to all types of people and personalities.  Good leaders are capable of thinking and communicating in styles other than their natural personalities.  I consider myself a very practical and pragmatic leader.  That makes it my challenge to relate to visionaries and non-detail people.  In order to be a good leader I must be able to understand people who think and see the world differently than I do.  Great leaders adapt their style.  Static leaders become non-leaders.  What are you doing to adjust your leadership style to situations and personalities?


Don’t Let The Old Man In!

Toby Keith tells a story about a playing golf with Clint Eastwood and their conversation that led to Keith penning the lyrics for a song entitled, “Don’t Let The Old Man In”.  As the story goes, Eastwood mentioned to Keith that he would be turning 88 in a few days.  Keith asked him what he was going to do for his birthday and Eastwood replied that he was starting to film a new movie.  When asked how he keeps up his energy level Eastwood replied “I get up every morning and just keep going, and I don’t let the old man in.”  That phrase moved Keith so much that he became obsessed with writing the song.  The movie is “The Mule” and it features the song by Keith that was inspired by that conversation on the golf course.

I recently celebrated a milestone birthday, no I am not 88, and I found the song to be quite meaningful.  There are lines about loving your wife, staying close to your friends, and toasting the sundown with wine, all things I try to do.  But the most striking lyrics are…

“Ask yourself how old you'd be
If you didn't know the day you were born”

What a fascinating thought.  What if you did not know how old you really are?  How would you act?  How would you feel?  We are too focused on the numbers associated with age, especially the ones with a “0”.  Maybe we just need to wake up each day, ignore the number, keep going and don’t let the old man in.  I plan to try…

(Credit my friend, and local running legend, Jim Braden for sharing the song with me.)