Life

Locker Room Encouragement From A 400 Pound Competitor

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I met Robert after my workout at #lifetimefitness, and his situation just breaks my coaching heart. At 400 pounds, he certainly needs to lose the weight – not just for his physical health, but his mental health too. 

Robert and I started talking while in the locker room, and I learned he joined the club just after Thanksgiving. Before I could go into the typical holiday spiel, he talked about his time as a college athlete. Robert, who is in his late 40s. You can see that he has a fire in his eyes, but he’s lost something he yearns for.   He knows he’s let himself go long enough, and he’s taken the first step to get whatever he lost back.

I listened to him talk while getting dressed, and then I shared an inspiring story of two men I knew in their 70s who lost up to 75 pounds in the last year. It’s amazing that the metabolism could be good enough for these men to lose that weight. How did they do it? They walked the mall with relentless discipline and ate better. Amazing!

I asked him, “Robert, what’s your plan?”

He told me his joints are shot. So, it all starts in the pool. He’s got to get his heart pumping and legs moving. He shared more stories of college ball and his competitive athletic career. The more he shared, the more fuel he added to himself. Robert was a competitor but had been on a losing streak for 15 to 20 years. 

I was meeting him at the start of the training. 

I decided to encourage him even more with a story of a freshman student – John. John moved from New York to Colorado to start college. In his senior year, he was injured and gained some weight. Motivated by the prospect of an ROTC scholarship, he started training. He overcame the challenges of leaving home, new social dynamics and academic pressure. He stayed focused on the end result. What began as a desire and commitment result in losing 25 pounds and finish a half-marathon run.

Talk about inspiring. 

For Robert’s personal life, he mentioned that his sister died a few weeks ago. He lost another sister last year, and his mother the year before that. Although he had the fire for competing, his heart was broken, and he felt grief. I asked him, “Robert, if you’re committed to losing this weight, who will support you?” He looked with me with tears in his eyes and smile on his face, “My wife and kids. They’re fighting for me.”

It was just a five-minute locker room conversation, but we shared a connection. I felt it was a privilege to be invited into Robert’s journey. He may have a long road ahead of him, but he’s got the desire and dedication to succeed. I’ll cheer him on every step of the way!

Every pound, dollar of debt, ended dream, job transition or lost relationship has a weight. Robert carries a lifetime of it. Now, he’s taking the first step to shedding it. 

Today, I’m at the lowest physical weight I’ve been in 10 years. While it feels good, I still have work to do. Like Robert, John and my 70+year-old seniors, we all have work that must be done. The first step – be it walking the mall, getting in the pool or whatever – is the move you need to make. 

What weight do you want to offload today?

It’s important to know what you’re carrying before you take that first step. Make a plan, see it through, and commit to a support team to help you along the way. As you do this, you’ll begin to notice a difference in the rest of your life. 

Don't Miss this... Milestone Moments

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Capturing the significance of the season is crucial.

At sunrise today, I hiked the Lincoln Open Space. Near the overlook, I saw the red rock bench as an invitation... rest, enjoy, appreciate. There's the trail in front and behind. There's so much to consider,  where I've been and the desire to keep moving. It's a milestone moment in my life that I don't want to miss. Next week, my daughter graduates from high school. Then my oldest daughter graduates from college this fall, and my seventh-grade son just ran his first track period. Then tomorrow my nephew graduates from college.  Whew! I'm taking a deep breath to enjoy the view!

If that wasn't enough, today is another milestone moment for our family. The official launch of Oaks of Wisdom! It's a dream that's becoming a reality for my wife. She's a quiet creative that's taking her private reflections public with an open house. Oaks has been planted, watered, and ready to grow. I could not be more proud as a husband, a father and an uncle. Even in the high point of these moments, it's a discipline to stop and give thanks today. 

It's a celebration of what some people only dream for their families. I don't want to miss the significance of this moment. It's a simple yet profound invitation for you as well. 

What are the significant milestone moments that you're experiencing this year that need to be celebrated? 

Many of us are running so fast. The danger is looking at what we don't have or where we're falling short. Don't miss the significance of where we've come, but maybe more importantly, who we've shared the moment with along the way. Yes, diplomas, graduations, and launches are the moments marked by calendars, but they represent years in the making. If you find yourself today fatigue by the long road and the ascent then... 

  • Take a moment to rest. 
  • Take a moment to enjoy.  
  • Take a moment to appreciate. 

Seize the moment of celebration! Look around; see what's been accomplished, learn from the disappointments, honor those who are with you, and let gratitude enrich your life.  After your milestone moment tell a friend. Your encouragement maybe inspiration for them. 

If you need a friend to celebrate your milestone moment, drop me a note I'll celebrate with you. I'm in the clouds today! 

Enjoy the sunrise! 

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One Word for 2018

For the last 10+ years, I've captured a central theme that helps define my focus, hope, and goals for the coming year. Maybe you have a similar rhythm of reflection. It's a compelling idea that grounds you for a day, month, and year.

Four years ago I was introduced to the One Word book that has popularized this practice. I have leader friends who buy cases for their team members and friends as Christmas gifts. It creates stimulating conversation when discussing your One Word.

Every healthy goal setting discipline should be filtered with a Why question. 

  • Why is this goal important to you?
  • What will be the impact if you accomplish it?
  • How does that make you feel?

It's a vetting process that will be a predictor of your success. It reveals your motivation and your resolve to meet those goals. Your One Word helps guide and filter that process of what matters to you over the course of the year.

For the last 5 years, my words have ranged from Focus, Develop, Delight, and Broaden, and in 2017 Faithful. Being a man of Christian faith, my words often are inspired by a specific Bible verse. It's always a little tender, even vulnerable, revealing your One Word. Once you share it, you are accountable to it. Yet, it's worth the risk! It opens the possibility for encouragement, support, and depth to the significance of your One Word rather than if you kept it to yourself. 

So, what's my One Word for 2018? Build! 

Inspired by a passage in the book of Nehemiah and rebuilding of the broken wall. The leadership, commitment, sacrifice, and the celebration at the completion of the wall capture its significance. Yes, Build is my Word for 2018! 

As you have time to think, reflect, even pray what's your One Word? 

I'd love to hear your word(s) for 2017 and how that has been expressed in your year. Also what themes or words may be stirring for the coming year?

Yes! Hit REPLY! Take 1 Minute! Send me a quick note! I am sincerely curious to hear your word, the story behind it, and even the goals that will define it in 2018. 

Happy Reflections! 

Russell

Climbing with a Mentor… Dangerous Missteps and Discovering 3 Hidden Treasures on the Journey

My feet are soiled, even blistered, after walking nearly four miles in my Chacos. My iPhone tells me I climbed ninety-six floors today over the course of two hours, which means I climbed a mountain. My companion was a man I've known for several years, but this was the first opportunity we've had to spend time together. 

At sixty-three this man has traveled the world and worked inside of an organization of forty thousand people. When he started with that company twenty-eight years ago, their team was only two hundred people. Some would call that a career, others a lifetime of work. As an organizational psychologist and a Ph.D. whose primary goal is developing leaders within an organization, he can literally look back over his lifetime and see the impact he has had. It’s the difference that can be measured by the numbers and in the change in people’s lives. It's what we may call a life well lived.

Here I was with a man that I respect and admire, who is nearly twenty years my senior, and he truly is a model of the kind of leader developer I hope to be one day. The truth is for many of us on this journey, these kind of models and mentors are very rare. We may be around them, but when given the gift of their time, in my case nearly two hours on this hike, we want to make the most of the opportunity.  So our tendency in this situation is to jump right in and pepper them questions, usually in one of the following categories: 

  • We ask for advice and counsel.
  • We ask about a specific problem in order to find a practical solution that can be applied immediately.
  • We ask for principles or a personal mantra that can be applied to guide our life decisions.

However, this tendency can also be a grave misstep. These questions work well when you are working with a mentor or coach. They can literally take you down many new trails, beyond just one conversation, and take place over months and years of relationship. But when given a rare opportunity like the one I was given, this strategy may cause you to miss out on something even more valuable.  On the day of my hike with this man that I want to emulate, I chose not to go there with any specific agenda. I chose not to ask questions or ask for advice or counsel. Instead I simply stated, "I want to hear your story. Anything that you would like to share, I'm a listening ear, and I simply want to learn from you." 

During the two hours of mountain climbing, our talk began with some common elements of storytelling. These elements provided a little foundational context as to where we were in our week and what was going on in our lives. As we hit the trail, he asked me a few questions that allowed me to share parts of my story I knew would simply honor him in his interest and curiosity. I shared a few relevant, honest, authentic, and important details from my journey as it related to different mile-markers in my life which set the tone and depth so he would feel comfortable sharing at the same level of sincerity. In other words, the transparency of my story invited him to be transparent with his as well. He told me about his personal challenges and victories, his experiences as a family man, and how he navigated through difficult days when what he wanted to do was give up. After coming off the mountain, I felt the weight of his story.  As I reflected on this experience, I discovered the following three hidden treasures.

1. Story protects you

For nearly an hour I listened to a story that weaved over thirty to forty years of this man’s work and family life. As I listened, several themes began to emerge.  His life exceeded what you might normally characterize as success.  His life was about making an impact and how one person can make a difference by being faithful for the long haul. There was the theme of overcoming challenges, pushing through when you are overwhelmed, and it feels impossible.  And there was the theme of burnout. No matter how great the mission is, if you don't take time to rest and recalibrate, you will crash.

Throughout his story he wasn't preaching. He wasn't telling me what to do. He wasn't giving me principles, or teaching a lesson. We were simply climbing a mountain. Listening to his story awakened something in me.  I could resonate with the various themes along the way, and I began to recognize that if I wasn't careful, I was only a few nights of sleep away from real burnout.

His story caused me to think about how at times the burden and responsibility of my work can be so overwhelming that I lose perspective of why I've even stepped into such meaningful work in the first place.  His story helped me understand how the disciplined pursuit of perspective will protect me from being overwhelmed and potentially be taken out completely. His story also showed me that making a difference really comes from a focused pursuit in your area of strength and competency; that deep work is hard work; and that it’s worth it. When you see the impact you are making along the way, you will be encouraged, revitalized, and inspired to press on and continue the work in even more specific and definable ways.

2. Story inspires you

I was recently at a conference where nationally recognized speakers were giving talks that certainly stirred the heart and moved the audience with great emotion and connection.  As I listened to their stories I too felt swept up in the movement and emotion of the moment. Those talks certainly have their place, but they are quite different than the inspiration I received from walking alongside a man who's guiding me on a trail I have never traversed before, showing me new vistas, peaks, and valleys.  Even the physical ability he has in his early sixties, to be able to climb such mountains, inspires me! To be that physically fit, let alone have the mental and emotional fitness he has when I'm that age is some to aspire to. This man has a heart that is whole and alive and is filled with spiritual vitality in spite of seasons of overwhelming and challenging circumstances. His story inspires my story, and I hope my story will in turn inspire others.

3. Story encourages you

While walking alongside this man as he's listening to my story and sharing with me the things he has heard from others, he takes the time to encourage me in my work. I will tell you, there is nothing quite like having someone of this caliber, credibility, and experience look at a man like me and say, "I see something in you that, as it continues to develop and grow, will make an impact. How I can encourage you further along the way?” It is such a boost in confidence to hear him say, "I see something in you. I believe in you, and I will walk with you.” When someone we admire and trust, who's farther down the path than we are, in whose footsteps we can follow and learn from is willing to guide us along the way and encourage us to move forward in our levels of influence, they are demonstrating the next level of leadership and are modeling what it looks like to encourage others. It's the exchange of story—my story for his—and that lays a foundation for friendship and mentoring that moves us, inspires us, and encourages us in ways that are hard to even put into words.

The Danger of the Misstep - Why we miss story

The fact is, most leaders are running a hundred miles an hour, reacting and dealing with the challenges of each day. So often, when we're in the presence of someone who's farther along than we are, we are quick to ready, fire, aim, and we jump right into problem solving mode and seek the quick, pre-scripted solutions, so we can move on. Certainly, there are times when we are in crisis, when we need immediate answers, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, what actually may be needed more is the discipline of listening. Taking time for story allows space for things to be shared, things that maybe haven't been shared in many years.  And when you take the time to listen, you may find that the story resonates with your story, providing a significant point of connection. What we learn from the stories of our mentors and models is the wisdom they have gained as they have walked along their journey.  Their story may provide the treasures of protection, inspiration, and encouragement and be the very thing that gives us the heart to stay the course in the midst of difficult and challenging circumstances.

The treasures found in others’ stories will motivate us to seize new opportunities and move us forward to new levels of influence that we didn't think was possible. So I would encourage you today to think about those people in your life who are further along in the journey of life.  Get outdoors with them, in an environment other than a lunch or conference room meeting, and ask them, "What's your story?"

Discover Your Life Purpose! 8 Circles, 7?s, and 1 Change for the Year!

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During 2011 I was in a significant career transition. There was a gap in my daily working reality and my passion to influence leaders. I felt the ache from the inside out. I knew something had to change, but that gap seemed impossible to bridge.

I was trying to do the right thing by working my job to pay the bills yet feeling like I was meant for something more... Maybe you can relate? How could I transition from a career, an industry, and a business that I operated for 15 years? The simple answer...Discovering Clarity, Calling, and Coaching into my purpose.

Sounds simplistic but the process required more courage and personal growth than any other time in my life. I'm grateful that I had some amazing people speaking into me and encouraging me to move forward. During that time a statement emerged that today reflects my purpose for coaching with leaders.

Moving Leaders from Inspiration to Impact in their areas of Influence

Discerning, defining, and acting on your life purpose can be overwhelming without help. Here's a great tool to simplify the complexity of capturing and communicating your life purpose. Many leaders I coach are clear on defining their circles yet after some discussion they discover quickly they don't often align. Maybe it's time to recalibrate. Maybe you don't need a massive career move like I experienced but you may need to make some adjustments.

7 Questions!

  1. Do you love what you do? What do you love to do?

  2. Can you define the gap?

  3. Where does your Passion, Mission, Occupation, and Vocation intersect?

  4. How do your Character, Abilities, and Compassion intersect?

  5. What makes you feel alive doing what you love that meets a need in another person's life?

  6. Who are the people in your circles to help you align your purpose?

  7. What changes need to happen?

Take some reflective time to answer these 7 questions and define these 8 circles. Start with using words or phrases to keep it simple. You may find some categories easier to define. I encourage you to press into the areas that may be a challenge. You may need feedback from friends and family. After you have defined these areas now identify the gaps. Brainstorm on some ways to bring your circles together.

Make One Change!

If these circles don't connect for prolonged seasons it leads to stress, fatigue, and often burnout. You risk losing your joy and zest for life. If you've felt some of these symptoms in the last year I encourage you to act on your discovery. Creating a plan to move towards alignment. Start today with a commitment for one Change on your calendar that you can act on your purpose.

If you need help, find a trusted friend, coach, or mentor to get you moving! As you move forward in clarity and change I'd love to hear your progress in the comments below! Enjoy the discovery!

Your change may inspire others to do the same!