December 21, 2017

Leadership lessons I have learned while sweating my ass off


A lot of you don’t know this about JFW but besides being excellent at sarcasm and referring to myself in the 3rd person, I have a real job. I work in banking and have responsibility for around 80 direct reports and close to a billion dollars. Don’t be too impressed by the dollars. They aren’t mine. I only have responsibility for tens of dollars in my own account. The rest gets spent on CrossFit and my daughters. Regardless, I have been managing people for over two decades and thought I had learned everything I needed to over the years. When I joined CF Mentality I expected to improve my fitness but one of the unintended benefits and very welcome surprise has been that I have learned some leadership lessons along the way that I am applying at work as well as my personal life.

I try to be observant when I am at the gym and pay close attention when there is more than one coach together because that is when you can really see the inner workings that create a winning team. Truthfully I could put together easily three pages of things I have noticed and learned but for the sake of brevity and not sharing Mentality’s “trade secrets”, I am going to keep this list to the five I find most important and interesting.

1. Keep positivity at a premium - This list is in no particular order but if it was I would likely keep this in the number one spot. You just can’t underestimate the power of positivity and the effect it has on an athlete that is about to attempt something that scares the sh*t out of them. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard “You can do this!” or “That looked so much better. Great job!” It may not seem like much but the positivity makes you want to work harder and come back for more. I used to have a coach that would yell things like “Those pushups look like you are humping the floor. No wonder you're single!”  Trust me...positivity is better. 

2. Start on time/finish together - Maybe it is just me but I think this is huge. We start every class exactly on time and the interesting thing is that I rarely see anyone try to get into a class that has already started. The timeliness of the coaches has created respect from the athletes to not come in late or miss the warm up. We also always finish together. No one cleans up their mess until the last athlete is done. They are relentless about this and for good reason. It creates a sense of community that no ones effort was less important than someone else. I am trying to apply that lesson with my team that everyone can create and make a valuable contribution no matter how big or small.

3. Coach the coaches - Every time Scott’s in the building I try pay attention to this. I see the coaches getting pulled to the side with a few questions asked, some quick instruction, and then sent back on their way. If you are going be a great leader you need someone to keep you accountable and make you think about the bigger picture. It also creates a consistency among the coaches that is invaluable to the health of your business. Side note - If you really wanna learn the deep stuff have a conversation with the true Wodfather and OG Papa Pan. That dude will spill fitness knowledge on you like you wouldn’t believe and it’s pretty obvious this culture was created decades ago. I have this image in my mind of him telling the twins when they were babies “Let’s talk about the proper position to keep your torso so you can breathe efficiently as you eat your Cheerios. Now drop and give me twenty pushups...”

4. Ask for feedback - This one was a little surprising to me. I’ve been asked by coaches on more than one occasion how I felt about everything from the facility to programming. It’s impressive to me to see that vulnerability in a leader and showcases that you need to be constantly learning, evolving, and most importantly, listening to the needs of your clients. It also showcases how thoughtful you need to be about your business and has made me think differently about how I receive feedback and use it in my business planning...

5. Celebrate success - This is a fun one. There is nothing better than ringing the PR bell or getting the Rick Flair “WHOOOOO!” out of Scott or the other coaches when you do something great. It’s easy to not take a quick second and tell someone they did a great job or even reflect on the good things you did yourself. It’s made rethink and change how I recognize and reward my own team and I think making a big impact in morale and positivity.

Like I mentioned, this is a really short list. The really good stuff is what you see go on day in and day out but you really just need to get your ass up to Mentality and see for yourself. Just make sure you show up a little early...

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