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]

Looking to Start a Business? Read this One Book First

Close to 4.5 million new businesses were started in the United States in 2020, making it the highest year on record. New business start-ups jumped 24% from 2019 and more than 50% about the 2010-2019 average. Half a million businesses were started in January 2021 alone.

One of the effects of the COVID pandemic is a desire for people to leave their jobs and do something independently.

As a manufacturing business owner in my sixth year of a start-up, I want to caution those beginning down this path.

Starting a business is challenging, and success is not guaranteed.

You are more likely to fail than succeed.

So, why do millions of people each year ignore the statistics and become entrepreneurs?

Because they see successful entrepreneurs, and they think they can do it as well.

They see the “hustle porn” on social media telling them that they too can have a fancy car and a private jet if they just work hard.

They see people like Phil Knight, a former college athlete who took a desire to find the perfect running shoe and built it into Nike, a global brand worth more than $280 billion.

They think, “if he can do it, I can too.”

The problem is that every entrepreneur underestimates the immensity of the task.

Every entrepreneur underestimates the immensity of the task. Click To Tweet

How do I know? I did as well.

As aspiring entrepreneurs, we only see the final version of Nike. We have no idea what it took Phil Knight and his team to get it there.

That is until Phil Knight told us about it in his book, Shoe Dog: A Memoir by the Creator of Nike.

This is an incredible dive into what it truly takes to start a company. In this book, we learn that Phil Knight’s journey from a crazy idea of importing Japanese running shoes to building a successful, global brand was anything but a short story.

He faced cash flow problems, lawsuits, unfaithful partners, government investigations, media scrutiny, employees leaving for the competition, and the loss of endorsing athletes.

Problems every entrepreneur will face.

Nike is the story of an overnight success that took more than 18 years.

The lesson you will take away from this book is that starting a business is incredibly arduous, and only the strong, persistent, and lucky will survive.

Starting a business is incredibly arduous, and only the strong, persistent, and lucky will survive. Click To Tweet

One quote that struck me from the book is Knight talking with his team after struggling for years to get the company off the ground.

He said, “The cowards never started, and the weak died along the way. That leaves us, ladies and gentlemen. Us.”

If you’re thinking of starting a business, you probably know it won’t be an overnight success. But are you prepared for 2, 5, or 10 years of continuous struggle?

Knight and his team battled for close to two decades to get Nike off the ground.

For me, there is no better book to understand real entrepreneurship than Shoe Dog.

I highly recommend you read it cover-to-cover before you even think about registering your new company.

Start-up life is gratifying, but it’s not for the faint of heart.


Hope is More Powerful than Strategy

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “hope is not a strategy.”

While I generally agree with that statement, I would argue that hope is essential for leadership. And at times, even more powerful than strategy itself.

Hope is essential for leadership. Click To Tweet

The great Napoleon Bonaparte once said that “a leader is a dealer in hope.”

A dealer in hope? Yes, that’s a strange description. In my mind, I see a leader dealing out hope like playing cards to worried employees.

In a way, that’s exactly what a leader must do.

Consider Winston Churchill. In the dark days of the beginning of World War II, the British people were filled with despair. They had suffered heavy losses, and there was fear throughout the country that Germany would be successful in overcoming the small Island nation.

In a speech delivered on June 4, 1940, Churchill provided hope to a worried nation. He assured them that:

“We shall not flag nor fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France and on the seas and oceans; we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be; we shall fight on beaches, landing grounds, in fields, in streets, and on the hills. We shall never surrender and even if, which I do not for the moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, will carry on the struggle until in God’s good time the New World with all its power and might, sets forth to the liberation and rescue of the Old.”

In one speech, Winston Churchill ignited a country. He drove out despair and gave his people a hopeful vision of the future.

It’s our job as leaders to do the same.

In the past two years, every business has faced unprecedented challenges. A global pandemic, a deeply divided nation, labor shortages, inflation, and the supply chain crisis have all pushed employees to new levels of stress and anxiety.

People are worried about their jobs, their families, and their future. They are looking to their leaders for answers.

Just like Churchill, our role as leaders is to drive out despair and provide hope.

Our role as leaders is to drive out despair and provide hope. Click To Tweet

You might be asking yourself – how can I drive out despair when I don’t know what will happen in the future? How can I provide hope when I’m having trouble finding it myself?

Simple. We need to take a page out of Churchill’s playbook.

Instead of griping, complaining, and worrying in front of our employees, we must provide a hopeful vision of the future.

The only way to drive out despair is to unite our employees around a hopeful vision.

When the seas turn violent, and a storm blows in, sailors look to their captain for hope and assurance.

There will be time for strategy, but right now, our people need hope more than ever.

Providing a hopeful vision is one of the most important roles of a leader, learn more about establishing a hopeful vision in my new book All in the Same Boat.

[Photo by Rosie Kerr on Unsplash]