Getting Your Reps In

It’s January 4th and many of you have no doubt joined me in not going to the gym yet this year.  This isn’t because I’m lazy or getting over a cold, I usually go quite regularly.  I just do my best to avoid my Gym for the month of January…

…because a January gym is a chaotic gym.

You see January is the worst month for regular gym attenders because every January many people decide that “getting into shape” is going to be their New Years Resolution.  In conjunction with this compunction, many health clubs offer incentives to entice new members to save money by purchasing a yearly membership.

Now with all of the new members arriving the Gym doesn’t add more space, equipment, or  classes, they simply cram more people into their facility.  This means that in the exercise area there are increased wait times for equipment, especially for treadmills and ellipticals.

It’s much worse in the locker room.

While long-term club members generally have well established daily routines built around exercising and showering at the health club, new members are often just figuring out how they are going to fit all of this into their schedule.  All of the hurried jockeying for locker and shower position causes the room to become a tightly packed sweatlodge of clammy, half-naked bodies awkwardly bumping into each other.

At the gym, January is a month rife with grumpy and complaining members, all unhappy with the club’s services.  Many threaten to take their business elsewhere.  None of this murmuring ever leads to additions in fact; the club will gladly receive your complaints and do nothing.

Because they know that the problem will take care of itself.

You might be thinking that the problem will be handled by people leaving and going to a different facility, but that rarely happens.  Long-term members have established routines that they spent months forming into habits.  They aren’t going to break them.

Since the new members have paid in advance for the year, the club lets nature “thin the herd”.

Within two to three weeks of the New Year, the vast majority of new members will slowly but surely return to their old habits of busyness, attending to their workouts with infrequency  as their best rating.

The gym understands that to expand their offerings and facility to accommodate a crowd that will not be there over the long haul is to overspend when unnecessary.

You see, By mid-February the club has returned to normal; its pilates classes filled with soccer moms and the newly pregnant,

25 year-old men performing feats of strength in the weight room,

Basketball courts occupied by fist-fighting 35-year old men,

45-year olds honing their racquetball skills,

55 year-olds rehabbing their knee surgeries,

And 65-year old men using the sauna and locker rooms as some kind of bizarre nudist lounge.

We tend to think of leadership as “knowing what to do when people start complaining”, but often good leadership is displayed by knowing “what Not to do when people are unhappy”.

The gym knows January better than the new members.

I’ve found that the best leaders and most successful people are very rarely “new people” who “spring into action” to implement “new ideas”.  In fact, it’s usually the “most experienced” people who take “the long view” while learning about what “hasn’t worked before” that experience the most productivity over time.

“The plans of the diligent lead to profit 
   as surely as haste leads to poverty.”
-Proverbs 21:5

Isn’t the January gym filled with brand new sneakers, yoga pants, and iPod touches (purchased for inspiration) that will eventually fade once the real work sets in?  Anyone can use a “new purchase” for inspiration, but what happens when the initial excitement fades?

In the rush to “solve problems” we often misuse our resources and create new problems, which is why we need to understand that:

Good leadership isn’t judged by age.

Not all old people are wise and not all young people are fresh.

Experience is a better arbiter.

Good leadership isn’t measured by decisiveness.

Haven’t you felt great about a decision that turned out disastrous?

Investigation leads to insight.

Good leadership is diligent,
It does the hard work that we call research,
It processes information with the future in mind.

Good leadership is patient,
Willing to out-wait the “tyranny of the urgent”,
To provide success for the faithful.

Good leadership listens to constituency,
But only takes advice from the faithful.

We may sign up for a gym membership in January, but achieving our fitness goals usually comes sometime around April.  People may begin to notice in March, but it’s usually April before you can look in the mirror and see it for yourself.

That personal reflection can be a powerful motivation, but it’s much more inspiring to look across the room in November and see one of the few remaining January recruits putting their reps in.

Their body isn’t just different.
Their health isn’t just improved.
They don’t just feel better about themselves.
They’ve become a different person.

Good leadership uses the long-term success of the faithful as its most powerful motivation.

4 Responses to “Getting Your Reps In”

  1. Jordan January 5, 2012 at 9:52 am #

    Thanks for this post Jon. I’d like to think that I’m really good at making decisions but the truth is that I’m not always great at following through. Deciding is the easy part, which makes action so valuable.

    • Jon January 5, 2012 at 11:32 am #

      Thanks Jordan, I like to think that we are all growing in followthrough (faithfulness). It’s not a natural tendency for most, I know it isn’t for me!

  2. Jeff Patterson January 5, 2012 at 1:14 pm #

    Following through, with you.

  3. Brian January 6, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    I have yet to experience a moon landing an I hope I never do.

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