Thursday, February 18, 2010

What do you do?


This is a common question that I am sure each of you has been asked many times over the years. Chances are you proudly respond, “I am a _____ for _____” In my case I am a Training Manager for Sprint.

Indeed you are a _____ for _____ and you are oh so much more.

You see there is a big difference between where you work and what you do. We all know where we work but very few people have taken time to deeply consider what they really do.

When people ask me what I do, I surprise many by saying, “I enable the success of others”.


I learned this many years ago in college when I was paying my way through as a janitor. My boss one day posed the question to me and I of course responded, “I am a janitor, I sweep floors, scrub toilets, clean up after babies are born in OB and when accidents happen in the ER” (Go ahead—soak on that image for a bit)


He said all of this was true but in reality my job was to save lives. “Huh?” From there he explained the importance of cleanliness to prevent staph infections and many other horrible things that could be found in the hospital. Next he had me write a little intro statement to explain my role. Oh and yes, those really are pictures of me from back in 1989.

Suddenly, for the first time at work I felt important and needed. I have carried this lesson through to all my jobs and volunteer passion.

As a hospital janitor—“I help save lives”

As a call center agent—“I solve problems and make people happy”

As a wireless sales person—“I help families stay connected, business people make more money, and people find help in times of emergency”

As a trainer and training manager—well you know that one.

The great Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.”

So let me ask—What do you do?

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Crossover


During the month of February thousands of 5th grade boys will experience the crossover. This is a traditional Scouting ceremony where a Webelos Scout crosses from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts.

I had the opportunity to see my first crossover of the year on Monday this week. The symbolism of this event is striking and brings me chills each time I witness it. Yes it is nice ceremony full of tradition. It is also and wonderful rite of passage that symbolizes a passing from childhood and elementary school to adolescence and middle school.

During the ceremony, the boys are led dramatically into the room by older Boy Scouts in Native American regalia from the Order of the Arrow. They are bound together with a rope that has loosely been tied to their wrists. Next they are then presented to the “Chief” who is there to determine their worthiness to leave Cub Scouts and join the brotherhood of Boy Scouts. Before long, the ropes are cut as the speaker says they are no longer bound to their past. In the final step of the ceremony, the boys pass one by one over a bridge and are greeted on the other side by Boy Scouts representing the Troop they have chosen to join.

For thousands of years and in cultures around the world, boys (and girls) have participated in symbolic passages into new stages of life. These rites are missing in most of our American culture and as a father I am working consciously to provide “crossover” opportunities for my son.

The Cub Scout crossover a couple of years back, a father son backpacking trip for “the talk” last spring break and next a week long adventure the summer after his eighth grade year. Each in my mind with a clear and planned objective so he will know things have changed. Something is behind him and now something different is ahead of him.

I wonder how different our world would be if more parents were working to be deliberate in raising their boys to be men. I have no idea what the future will hold for my son. I do know at least that words like honor, integrity, passion and respect will never be strangers to him. Nor will they be strangers to those Cub Scouts who in one brief moment joined together and spoke worlds that if truly lived by all would change the would forever. “On my honor…”

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

“You have bigger boobs than me”



“You have bigger boobs than me”

Ouch! This was said to me in jest by a girlfriend of mine back in the spring of 1989 as we were eating a big tray of nachos. I was 21 years old at the time and in my fourth year of college.

I am person that has struggled with my weight as long as I can remember and it seemed no matter what I tried it would just not come off. As a youth, I remember the teasing from the other kids very clearly. I also remember the feeling as I stood there at gym or recess knowing I was going to be the last person to get picked for whatever sport we were being forced to play.

My fear of athletic failure kept me from doing any sports. Exercise was a truly was a stranger to me. Really, up until that moment in 1989 I don’t think my heart had ever risen above 100 BPM unless I was running to grab the last ding dong from the box.

The boob comment for some reason though lit a spark in me. I decided at that moment that I was going to change my life. I was going to learn to eat right and I was going to exercise.

Learning to eat right came from joining a diet program. The company is no longer around but was a lot like weight watchers. I learned through this education that chicken fried steak, fried potatoes, and rolls were not the best choices for meals. (go figure) The greatest lesson was that my previous failures were due to trying to diet vs. just eating right. Once I was no longer on a diet, all the pressure went away and so did the pounds.

Exercising began with a mountain bike from Wal-Mart. I had bike as a kid but other than neighborhood tootling around I had never given it much thought. This mountain bike though over the summer became my primary transportation. I soon realized that I loved the feel of the road under me and I especially loved the feeling of physical strength I was gaining. It was not long before I started hanging out in the local bike shop dreaming of a “real” bike that I could use to join some of the other local riders that I had met.

Over that following summer, I lost over 40 pounds and for the first time in my life gained a physical confidence that I had not experienced before. Since then I have ridden thousands of miles, run 5Ks, 10ks, marathons, duathlons, and even a few triathlons.

I come from a long line of overweight people and it is still a struggle. However, I hate to think of what my health and my weight would be today had I not been struck so hard by the comment and had I not purchased that first cheap bike from Wal-Mart.

What about you? Does the thought of exercise and fitness scare you? Do you think because of your past that you have no future of feeling well, losing weight and getting fit?

Here we are just a few weeks into 2010. Are you ready to change your health for the better? I know with a little work and some well thought out goal setting that you can do it!

Good luck!