Lead With Your Best – The MFC And Lessons In The Home

“Your actions speak so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying” –Tim Marks

Leaders Lead by Example

Last week I read the article, Give It Your Best, by best-selling author and 2011 IAB Top Leadership Content Award Winner, Orrin Woodward.  It reminded me of a great family lesson I just experienced.

Michelle and I have 3 children – ages 9 through 13.  Each child has a different temperament which amazes me – same house, same message, yet different results with each child.

Earlier this spring my oldest son Adam started to prepare for his inaugural track season with the local track club.  The two of us sat down to develop a goal and game plan on what days each week he would workout and what it was he wanted to accomplish.  I decided I was going to join him!  After all, I’m 16 in a 42-year-old body, and want to work on the 1-pack I have going on in the mid-section, if you know what I mean.  Just the fact that I sat down to develop a goal and game plan is a testimony to the leadership journey we’ve been on the last handful of years.

KEY PONT 1: Adam developed a goal and then set a game plan to achieve a desired result.

A Humbling Experience

Each practice consisted of a warm-up then workout and cool-down or core workout.  No one else in the family wanted to join us and they all chose to watch Dad die alone on the side of the road.  The first practice was not very motivating for me as I realized that Adam has surpassed me in speed and fitness.  In fact, after the last interval around the neighborhood, Adam probably finished 150 meters ahead of me.  I was hunched over with hands on knees and gasping for air.  My neighbor was watching the whole event take place and yells from the driveway, “Matt, that was horrible!  Adam killed you.  That was just horrible!”  Thanks for the vote of confidence 🙂

She was right on, I was pathetic.  As the next two weeks progressed, I became more fatigued, sore and humbled.  Adam seemed to glide almost effortlessly through the workouts.  My 11-year-old Alex saw how much fun it was beating me that he decided to give it whirl.

KEY POINT 2: Alex joined the group after he saw his older brother lead by example.

The Crossroads

The next practice was no different from the others.  Adam was graceful and smooth; I looked like I “ran funny” according to Adam and, to top it off,  Alex also kicked my tail.  But, I never quit and gave my best effort.

KEY POINT 3: Never quit and give your best effort.

That day Adam was going to do 5 intervals, and old man pappy was going to do 4 (kind of like a handicap in golf).  After the fourth interval, I was spent, my legs burned and I was thankful my part of the workout was done – so I thought.  To my surprise, Adam was throwing in the towel too.  He had enough and was going to quit early.

That was not acceptable to me.  One of our family rules is you ALWAYS give your best effort and never quit because it hurts too much (A lesson I learned through our LIFE leadership training and from my mentors Dan Hawkins, George Guzzardo and Orrin Woodward).  Adam was having nothing of it.

Plan B:  I decided to try building a vision for Adam and how his efforts will produce fruits in the future (for a great example of this read chapter 4 of RESOLVED- 13 Resolutions for Life by Orrin Woodward).

I started to describe to Adam that someday he will be lining up for the last event of the state track meet – the mile relay.  His team will be in the running for the state title, but they will have to win the race and he will have to put in the best race of his life.  I described that he’ll think back to times like today and he will be thankful for working through the fatigue and pain.

Adam bought nothing of it!  He started to dig in his heels, raise his voice and shout “I’m not doing it!”

Plan C:  I started to think about punishment and negative consequences.  Thankfully through all the reading, listening and mentoring over the years I decided to abort that plan quickly knowing it would send everyone into a tail spin.

Leaders Lead by Example

 Plan D:  As I felt my frustration level increase, “Leaders lead by example” ran through my mind.  I had heard it, read it and counseled it many times before and now was an example of how I had to live it.
I decided to complete the fifth and final interval by myself (remember old man pappy was only going to do 4 intervals).  I figured Adam was quitting early because he saw me doing it, so I reversed it and thought if I do the last interval it might motivate him to do it.

I walked away not saying anything except, “I’m going to do that last interval.  I’ll see you when I’m done.”  I told myself “Don’t look back, don’t make him feel bad, don’t say anything, just lead quietly by example and see what happens.”  I started the last interval by myself, still not looking back, and could feel the ache from the lactic acid that had built up in my legs.  I was just going to run this one at a comfortable pace – and all of a sudden, I heard footsteps behind me.  Adam flew by me like the wind and completed his last interval leaving me in his dust.  He was so mad at me for doing that, but at the same time you could see in his face that he has happy he did it!!

KEY POINT 4: Don’t expect anyone to do the things you want them to do unless you are willing to do them yourself.

Take the Mental Fitness Challenge

It’s a little life example, but I think the principles are enormous.

  • Develop a goal and game plan to achieve a desired result.
  • Leaders always lead by example.
  • Never quit when the going gets tough.
  • Don’t expect anyone to do the things you want them to do unless you are willing to do them yourself.

My prayer is that this story, and Orrin’s article, may help you have a better day today or tomorrow.  We just launched the Mental Fitness Challenge (MFC) and
the principles in this article are found in that 90 day challenge.  Log in to the MFC website, sign up for the challenge and get ready to Live the Life You’ve Always Wanted!  Godspeed

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19 Responses to Lead With Your Best – The MFC And Lessons In The Home

  1. Fantastic story and analogy Matt! As Orrin says, “example isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Such an important topic in our world today! Thanks for being such a great example for not only your family but the entire Team community!

  2. Chris Brady says:

    Great story, Matt…and a great example!!

    • Matt Mielke says:

      Thanks Chris. Without your example as a parent, your stories of your children, and your courage, my family would not be where it is today. Thank you and Godspeed to fulfill “our” destiny.

  3. Larry Wieberdink says:

    It worked, I’m in!! MFC here we go. Thanks for the great analogy and your personal example Matt. Thanks so much for introducing Adam last saturday night. It was an honor meeting Adam and reading this blog makes it even sweeter. You are an outstanding “Principal” leading by example. Congratulations!
    Adam—Just when you think you have your dad beat you will find out he is way ahead of you leading the way. Stay in his footsteps and you will be doubly blessed. Your friend Larry

  4. dknoff92 says:

    Awesome article Matt, you laid it out succinctly and easy to follow. Thanks for the lessons!

  5. Jen Ulrich says:

    Matt, I heard you recount this story at an event we were at recently, and I’m still struck the same way at how profound, yet simple, your last point is: Don’t expect anyone to do the things you want them to do unless you are willing to do them yourself. The leaders in this business aren’t leaders simply because they’ve learned how to make money. They’re not leaders simply because they have happy families. They’re not leaders simply because they know the right things to say. They’re the leaders because in EVERY area of their life, they’re doing the things themselves that they want others to do! They’re successfully applying these principles and constantly striving to improve, all the while showing others how to do the same. You and Michelle would be admirable if you were just successful in your own lives, but the fact that you two (along with the rest of our amazing leaders) are willing to take the time to patiently listen and teach us how to achieve similar goals in our lives means that we will forever be indebted to you; we know that the only way we can ever repay you is by paying it forward to the next couple. God bless you and your work!

    • Kristina Meinel says:

      Great story. It’s a very clear analogy to get your point across. I feel a lot like Adam might have felt sometimes. Where he put in a “good” workout that would be acceptable on anyone’s standards yet having a leader like you who believes and sees more from us pushes us to be “great.” What truly WOULD happen is we tried our hardest!?! “we are powerful beyond measure.”

  6. Keith Whitaker says:

    Thanks Matt, your story is so true! It seems that kids these days will give up at the very first chance they can get! I was never able to quit from fear from my father (which did get the job done) but he never praticed what he preached! What a great and simple concept it is to lead by example…do it yourself first! If you want something done do it yourself first and others will follow! I’m. So glad to be involved in a comminuty of people who are doer’s not talkers! Thanks again and GOD BLESS!

  7. Troy Woods says:

    One phase I learned back when I was involved with ministry was “Leaders Lead”. Whether is be exercising, reading or just your reaction when someone offends you. Great reminder for not only at your work place, but also at home.

  8. Josh Meinel says:

    Great example Matt! This is just one of the many stories you could use, because we see you live and lead by example everyday. Thanks Matt 🙂

  9. Eric Schilling says:

    Leaders lead by example! Very well written article by Matt!

  10. Excellent article Matt! You do an amazing job teaching through stories. Keep leading and living, you are making a difference!

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