“Greatness after all, in spite of its name, appears to be not so much a certain size as a certain quality in human lives. It may be present in lives whose range is very small.”
The Purpose and Use of Comfort
Jorge said to me, “Kevin, with all due respect to the amazing work we’ve all done, I can’t lead my team to live into it.”
“What! I don’t get it. What’s the problem?” I asked in disbelief.
Sheepishly he answered, “20 pounds.”
“20 pounds? Help me out here Jorge. I don’t understand.”
“I’m 20 pounds overweight. If I don’t have the discipline to lose 20 pounds, then how can I expect my team to follow me? What kind of role model am I?”
In essence, Jorge was saying, “I’m not fit to lead.”
Jorge’s statement was not really only about his physical fitness. Deeper at work was his view of himself as an undisciplined, possibly out-of-control person. His being fit for leading involved a uniquely fascinating personal blend of Body, Mind, and Spirit in comparison to his expectations and demands.
Jorge recognized an essential truth of leadership: authenticity counts. Yet for all his talent, skills, smarts, and title as president, he took 2+2 and got 3 instead of 4. And, he isn’t alone. We all go stupid somewhere.
With me looking from the outside in, Jorge’s assessment didn’t compute. How was “lack of discipline” in one area of life detrimentally washing over all of his life as a scarlet label and as such a limiting liability?
What’s Weighing You Down?
FIT 4 Leading helps you to assess your Body, Mind, and Spirit so you can come to healthier conclusions regarding your leadership capacity and capability. Armed with fresh understanding, different insights, and proven resources, you will be in a better position to jettison some of that unneeded baggage you’ve been hauling around for far too long.
Imagine what it would be like to be released from being a weighted-down leader physically, intellectually, and spiritually. It is a tall order for a short book. Even a little reduction in the weight of leading, however, is a big gain.
So what’s weighing you down? Let’s start with a snapshot of what I call “My Greatest Obstacle to Success Survey.” I asked over 850 USA-based independent business owners this simple question, “What is your greatest obstacle to success?” The responses revealed that 82% of their obstacles to success could be captured in the following three categories:
F = Fear: 22%
I = I am: 28%
T = Time Management: 32%
FIT is the acronym for this collection of flawed beliefs, attitudes, and actions that stymie one’s inherent leadership capacity. We’ll cover each in greater detail starting in Chapter 6.
The number 4 from the book title FIT 4 Leading is the unnamed fourth obstacle. Survey participants never mentioned it but it was clearly noticeable. None, nada, 0%, not one of the respondents acknowledged their physical fitness as an obstacle to their success. Yet, statistically, 68% of them are overweight or obese.
Yes, this really is a leadership book! The interplay of the Body, Mind, and Spirit is undeniable. Logically, how we feel, think, and regard ourselves has a dramatic effect upon our conduct. Leadership begins on the inside by becoming better leaders of our lives. Our weight, I’ve learned, is a reflection for much more of what’s going on within the skin than what’s seen on the outside.
Regardless of your obstacle, today, decide to start on the healthier, more integrated path to being fit for leading. Whatever challenge you face, there is a way be free of it, and FIT 4 LEADING will positively lead you into your greater promise.
The Leader Who Was Finally Fit To Lead
Jorge was the president of a not-for-profit organization that raised about $4 million per year for healthcare causes. The foundation had hovered around this revenue mark for the past five years. We had invested months of intense work writing the purpose, vision, mission, and values of the organization, developing a business plan, training the team, putting systems in place, and devising a new board structure to engage the broader community. It was launch time. And now the “truth” had finally emerged—privately, the leader didn’t think he was fit for leading the initiative as a person.
Professionally, Jorge was very competent. When he first broached the weight issue with me there was a not an apparent connection in my mind. Once explained by Jorge I got it.
Finding Jorge the help to lose 20 pounds was the easy part. Getting him to believe it was possible and doing it was the greater challenge. Getting him to isolate his “undisciplined” label in exchange for an “I am a disciplined person” viewpoint with a struggle in one area helped him to strengthen his discipline in other areas. The spillover effect was noticeable personally and professionally.
A year later, the Foundation broke all records and raised over $12 million. Let’s see, that’s $400,000 gain for every pound lost! Of course, there was much more to the team’s success than just Jorge’s physical fitness. To their credit, they had a plan and worked the plan with excellence.
Lifting off the leader’s heavy burden of being unauthentic freed him to be who his truly is and was—one of the most capable professionals in his field. Jorge discovered as I hope you will, that you are remarkably disciplined when you have a proven and systematic approach towards which you can apply your existing discipline.
Having been a business advisor to CEOs of Fortune 100 companies as well as start-up entrepreneurs, I’ve learned to embrace the famous words of Saturday Night Live legend Gilda Radner’s character Roseanne Rosannadanna, “It’s always something.”
Indeed it is. Relax. Take heart! None of us have it perfectly put together. Progress, not perfection, is the point. It is like perfect jobs. As soon as you find the perfect job and start it, it will no longer be perfect. Now you’re there!
Life itself is a magnificent present. The increase and multiplication of this gift is the first order of the business of life. Leadership of others is built upon foundation of the Body, Mind, and Spirit. The first level of leadership is leader of oneself. The second level of leadership is that leadership of others.
Is It Too Late For Me?
For decades now, people of all ages ask me this question: “Is it too late for me?” My answer is an unequivocal, “Only if you think so. Otherwise, no!” Regret is a signpost to a lesson yet to be learned. Your past doesn’t define your future, but it needs to inform it.
In the movie The Lion King, Mufasa tells his heir-unapparent Simba, “You have forgotten who you are and so have forgotten me. Look inside yourself, Simba. You are more than what you have become. You must take your place in the Circle of Life.”
Are you ready to take your look inside and take your place in the circle of leadership? God knows—we need you! This means taking a hard look inside yourself and facing the challenges that chew away at you being the leader you were designed to be and become. Here are the no-lose promises, however, that reward your efforts. You will:
- Get to know yourself better
- Grasp reality—good, bad, and ugly
- Make better and more informed decisions true to who you are
- Come to appreciate how uniquely special and gifted you are
- Know that you have a purpose—a reason for being
- Watch as the byproduct of being a better you makes the world about you a better place
- Stand with awe when you discover in retrospect that by leading your life better, you became a leader whom others naturally look to for leadership
This, by the way, is what it means to be on-purpose!
 Weight Control Network, Overweight and Obesity Statistics, The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease (NIDDK)