Faith, Family, and Fitness

2021 is nearly complete, and, in a way, I’m glad.

Despite many successes, this year has been difficult for me. As a small business owner, the supply chain issues challenged my company in a way I never anticipated.

I expected some hiccups as people returned to work from extended COVID shutdowns. Still, I never expected the delays would last as long as they did, and the costs would escalate as much.

This year tested me as a business leader, and, from what I can tell, the difficulties will continue into next year as well.

But, that’s alright. I can handle it.

How do I know?

I’m ready for the tough times.

One of the most important things I do as a leader is lead myself first. I know I have to take care of myself if I’m going to be there for my employees and my company. I have to be prepared for the hard times that will always come.

One of the most important things leaders do is lead themselves first. Click To Tweet

So, how do I do that?

For me, it’s about faith, family, and fitness. I know I need to be spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally strong to be a great leader.

Let’s start with faith. Many of you know I’m a Christian, and this year, my wife and I joined a new church. In our church, we have a community of people that love us, support us, and are there for us when things get tough.

I also start each morning in bible study and prayer. These quiet morning sessions allow me to relax my mind and contemplate the day ahead. Having faith in a God that answers prayers gives me hope and quiets my anxieties.

I’m not a perfect Christian, but I’m getting better every day.

The other thing that I rely on is family. My wife and I celebrated our 30th anniversary this year. She has been with me through the best and most challenging times. I don’t take my relationship with her, my two adult sons, and my parents for granted.

I’m a present leader at home, just like at work. I make sure to be attentive to the individual needs of each of my family members, and, in return, they are there for me as well. When things aren’t going my way at work, I know I can come home to a caring, loving, and supportive environment at home.

I’m not a perfect husband, father, and son, but I’m getting better every day.

I also rely on fitness. If you follow me on social media, you know that I work out in my home gym every morning. I have been doing this for nearly ten years. These morning sessions help me work out my frustrations, move my body, and learn valuable lessons that come through slow, steady progress towards a goal.

Getting those minor victories in the gym during my morning sessions help set the tone for the rest of the day. If I can do difficult things in the gym, I can do difficult things in business and life.

If you can do difficult things in the gym, you can do difficult things in business and life. Click To Tweet

I’m not a perfect athlete, but I’m getting better every day.

As I look back on another year and look forward to a new one, I can’t say whether or not 2022 will be any easier. I know that I will be ready no matter what comes my way.

I encourage each of you to be prepared and lead yourself first.

The question is – what will you do to become spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally stronger in the coming year?

Being strong is not optional – your role as a leader requires it.

[Photo by Sarah Medina on Unsplash]

3 Simple Tips to Make your 2020 New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Have you embarked on a New Year’s Resolution in 2020?

You’re not alone.

45% of Americans are likely to make a resolution this year and half of those resolutions are focused on self-improvement.

The biggest problem with New Year’s Resolutions is that the vast majority of people never achieve them. Statistics show that 1 out of 4 people will drop out after just one week of trying.

So, what’s the problem?

In general, we talk more than we act. Yes, I said it. We overcommit and underperform.

I’ve always loved this quote (the author is unknown): “People with good intentions make promises. But people with good character keep them.”

“People with good intentions make promises. But people with good character keep them.” - Unknown Click To Tweet

So, how do we become a keeper of promises?

It’s simple, do the opposite. We need to undercommit and overperform!

Follow these three simple rules:

  1. Set realistic goals. Be brutally honest about the effort it will take. Don’t be afraid to set easier goals in the beginning, especially if you are going to be making a big change.
  2. Fully commit. Once those goals are in place, fully commit to achieving those goals. Make a promise to yourself that you intend to keep.
  3. Just do it. Take daily action to meet your goal.

It sounds easy but let’s be honest, there’s a limit to effort and willpower.

Shear determination, effort, and willpower will only get you so far.

To make a real change to your lifestyle, you need to develop habits and patterns. You need to create daily activities and routines that make it easy for you to meet your goals.

The other thing to consider is, let’s be honest, you are going to fail.

You’re going to slip up. You’re going to cheat. You’re going to go back to your old habits. This is where most people give up.

The simple trick to not giving up is to remember Step 3 above, just do it.

If you fail one day or even one week, don’t worry or beat yourself up. Start fresh the next day and just keep going. Don’t wait another year before you start again.

Remember the promise you made to yourself.

And, remember these words from the great Winston Churchill, “Never, ever ever ever ever give up.

“Never, ever ever ever ever give up.” - Winston Churchill Click To Tweet

This is your year. Let me know how I can help you achieve your goals.

Engage with me on Twitter and let me know what changes you are making this year.


If one of your resolutions is to read more, might I suggest my bestselling book, “I Have the Watch” where I share my experiences in leading people over the last 30 years?

After the Christmas rush, we have 51 signed copies back in stock. Click here for more details.

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Earn your Oxygen: A Sea Story

Great leaders know a team of qualified employees is hard to beat. They establish a culture of competency where new employees feel positive peer pressure to work hard to earn their spot in the team.

Saturday at Sea

It was Saturday night on my second patrol on the USS Tennessee and I headed up to the wardroom for supper. Saturday night was always special on a deployed nuclear submarine at sea. It was pizza night. It was a time to shake up the normal meal rotation and enjoy some tastes of home. The crew cherished pizza night. It meant another week had passed and we were one more week closer to home. I loved the tradition of pizza night, although if I’m honest, the pizza was never all that good. Still, it was nice to kick back and enjoy a casual meal with my fellow officers.

For the officers in the wardroom, Saturday night almost always included a movie and a poker game as well. It was a chance to relax and burn off some steam after a long week. Everyone enjoyed Saturday nights on patrol. That is, of course, if you were qualified and I wasn’t there yet. It takes about a year to complete the submarine qualification process and earn your Dolphins as a new officer and I was almost finished. But, almost doesn’t mean anything to a qualified submariner.

When the meal was over, I quietly listened as the officers with embroidered Dolphins on their chest debated which movie they would watch. I listened enviously to their discussion. There were great movies on board and I would have loved the chance to escape submarine life for a few hours. But, that wasn’t going to happen. Not now.

“Life is Simple: You’re Either Qualified or You’re Not” Anonymous Submariner

It’s not Easy Being a NUB

“What are you looking at NUB? Go get some signatures on your ‘qual card’ if you want to watch a movie.” There it was. I wasn’t qualified and they let me know it. It was clear I wasn’t yet a contributing member of the crew. I was a NUB. A NUB is a Non-Useful Body, a colorful term used on a submarine to denote a new officer or sailor recently out of school and not yet qualified. It’s used to keep positive peer pressure on unqualified crew members so they will work hard on their qualifications. On a submarine, life was simple, you were either qualified or you weren’t. And, without Dolphins, I was just a NUB. I wasn’t yet carrying my load which meant I was taking food and oxygen from other qualified crew members who had earned it.

To a qualified submariner, a NUB is an annoyance at best and a liability at worst. It wasn’t a lot of fun being a NUB.

The truth is, peer pressure on the boat worked. It was effective on me and everyone else who had ever been in my shoes. We all wanted to belong. We all wanted to carry our load and we certainly didn’t want to be a liability. So, despite being tired, annoyed, and sometimes overwhelmed with the process, we trudged on. We worked hard to finish our qualifications. We worked hard to join the ranks of the qualified.

Earning my Oxygen

With my notebook, a cup of black coffee, and my dog-eared qualification card, I headed down to the torpedo room to work on my torpedo systems qualifications. That night I spent close to six hours in the torpedo room and got all the signatures needed to complete my torpedo systems qualification. The sailors there were quick to teach me everything I needed to know. They showed me the location of key valves, how the torpedo display worked, and we reviewed all the various torpedo casualties. It was a long night but, while the other officers watched movies and played cards, I got one more step closer to getting qualified and earning my oxygen. And, all in all, it was a pretty good night.

“Great leaders know a team of qualified employees is hard to beat.” Jon Rennie

Enduring Lessons

The Navy taught me valuable lessons about getting qualified. I learned how uncomfortable it was to be unqualified, how I felt like an outcast, not yet part of the family. I felt the shame of not being able to stand watch and pull my own weight. But, I also saw how that pressure drove me to work hard to get qualified, to gain the knowledge and experience to become an effective submariner.

While the Navy took positive peer pressure to an extreme, there are some important lessons that can be applied to any organization. First, the goal of any leader is to build a team of experienced and competent employees. A team of qualified employees is hard to beat. Second, new employees should be given a path to “qualification.” They need to clearly understand what is expected of them to become part of the team. Finally, like the submarine Dolphins, there should be a symbol that shows an employee is qualified. Companies like Lowe’s Home Improvement, for example, make new employees complete all their training before they “earn” their red vest. The red vest is worn with pride symbolizing a qualified member of the team.

Reach out to me on Twitter and let me know what you think. Does your organization have a qualification process? Is it effective?

Photo Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Kimber

Learn more in my new book, I have the Watch: Becoming a Leader Worth Following.