I was a very skinny kid. At least, that is what my parents told me before I had my tonsils removed. That was the last time anyone called me skinny for a very long time. I did not get sick much any more and I celebrated with food. Picture a heavy kid with black, horn rimmed glasses, wild hair and a poor fashion sense. Add to that my very shy demeanor. I actually made Raj on The Big Bang Theory talking to a girl seem like he was articulate. Couple all of the above with the unfortunate word that rhymes with Ray. It all made for some very bad days. Some days I would run home worried that some big kid would catch me. Some days the big kid did catch me! It sounds bad, but I really was blessed. There were a lot more good days than bad.
My mom and dad were 18 when I was born so they always worked hard. It was a great example for me. My dad worked as a landscaper and painter on his off days, so I was a landscaper and painter. I remember sweeping the gutter and telling my dad, "Hey, it is fine. It is just a gutter." My dad responded, "A great job usually just takes a few minutes more." Every time I want to take a short cut, his words haunt me in a good way. It has served me well in life, as well as, business. If you are going to do a job, do it well. It does not take that much extra time.
We were on vacation and my dad was studying to be one of the first paramedics in Stockton, CA. I was surprised that he was studying so hard on our vacation and I asked him what he needed to pass. "An A," he said and I was shocked. He followed up with, "What? Do you want a guy trying to save your life to pass with a C." Point taken, dad. I was not a great student, but I worked very hard, surrounded myself with smart friends and I made it through college. Hard work and persistence overcome a lot of short comings.
One day, I was invited to an exhibition of Krav Maga, a form of Martial Arts, at my son's Karate Class. Remember, I was still pretty much afraid of my own shadow, but I was fascinated. They invited me onto the mat and I was hooked. It did not go well at first. I would basically duck and cover, fearful of the consequences. Adolph, an ex-sparring partner for a professional fighter befriended me. He was big and fast. We were sparring one day when I realized why they call boxing the sweetest science. His movements were beautiful. My fear had turned into admiration. Fear goes away if you train long enough. Yes, his punches and kicks still hurt, but so did mine! By the way, I am no longer that shy and I can speak in front of a crowd.
Our instructor, Mr. Patrick Kelly, helping Adolph, Danny and skinny me celebrate our advancement to Black Belt status.
The Great Recession hit and Mixed Martial Arts had to be cut out of the budget. Life held some difficult challenges again and I was content to go to work, watch TV, eat and drink beer. I was gaining weight and, much worse, I was fine with it. I was watching TV one day when my wife walked in the room and told me to get my tennis shoes on for a running group we had joined, Runnin for Rhett. This did not go over well with me. I hated running, but I did go just to humor her. I figured my knee would hurt and I could get out of it. I trained with several people that had their own challenges. Challenges that were even more difficult than mine and they stayed so positive. They inspired me. They challenged me to run a 10k. I did. They challenged me to run a half marathon. I did. They challenged me to run a marathon. I did! They challenged me to run an Ultra Marathon. I did NOT do it! Hey, I do have certain limits. 😉 In life and in business, it really pays to have a wonderful network of friends that encourage you to work through tough times and stay focused on better days ahead. My friends Randy and Beth, the founders of Runnin for Rhett, exemplify that more than anyone that I know. They lost their son to a terrible disease, Cerebral Palsy and turned their loss into a wonderful non-profit organization dedicated to getting kids to Move Into Life!
It is ironic that many of the things that change us come from such unexpected sources. Who would have ever thought that teaching me to clean a gutter well when I was a little guy would inspire me for life? It really does not always make sense. It does reminds me to always be mindful of my actions. You never know who is watching and how you might make their journey easier. Is that lesson #5? Maybe it is the most important lesson.
Thank you, Anna "Banana" Kruchten and Carol Williams for inspiring us with this month's challenge and for all of your hard work hosting it!