Aliveatwork's Blog

Against The Wind


“They’ll be ridin’ against the wind”

 Bob Seger

I was cycling today when the idea struck me that cycling is a lot like leading.

It started when I looked out the window and saw the tops of the tree’s blowing back and forth in the wind. It wasn’t going to be the best day to be out there but I knew that  this would be my last chance to ride this week before I had to travel again.

Analogy #1: Sometimes a leader looks out and see’s that the conditions for business aren’t very favorable … you have to lead anyway!

I took off  with my head down and my iPod cranking, pushing me to pedal harder as I headed directly into a 15 mph wind. It wasn’t 10 minutes into the ride somewhere in the middle of AC/DC  “Thunderstruck” that my iPod died. From that point on the only thing I heard was the wind blowing through my helmet and past my ears.

Analogy #2: There are times as a Leader when you have no choice but to go it alone. There is no one is there to cheer you on or pat you on the back. It’s just you and “the deal” or “the decision” and you have to rely on yourself and your ability to finish.

As I settled into my pace I thought to myself … I love this … I love the opportunity to test myself in less than ideal conditions. That’s about the time the wind shifted directions and the rain started to come. First a drop here and there and then a few more. It was coming down just enough to be a nuisance but not enough to quit. I kept riding and reset the goal for 10 miles more than I had originally intended to ride.

Someone once told me that how you do anything in your life is how you do your life. If you’re rock climbing and it gets tough and you quit … that’s probably how you navigate through life. You quit. If you’re leading and something goes wrong and instead of owning it, you look around and start pointing fingers and blaming others … than that’s how you do your life! You blame others for your misfortunes or circumstances.

Analogy #3: How you lead is how you do your life! Make sure you lead the way you want to be remembered by the people you are asking to follow you.

And lastly, remember this … for all the times that you have to pedal directly into the wind there will be times when you will have the opportunity to ride with the wind. A chance to sit back and coast for just a little while … that is until the wind changes direction and it’s time to hunker down  … again!

Lessons From A Courageous Leader …

There are leaders … and then there are Courageous Leaders

There is a true story circulating on the internet about a U.S. Navy SEAL by the name of Michael Anthony Monsoor who was killed during the Iraq War on September 29, 2006.

The story goes that his platoon was engaged in a firefight on a rooftop position. A grenade was thrown onto the roof hitting him in the chest and then falling onto the deck. Realizing that everyone on the roof would be killed he yelled “Grenade!” and then threw himself on top of it to protect his fellow soldiers. He died 30 minutes later …

Lesson #1: Being a Courageous Leader means that sometimes you have to do things that others are not willing to do even if it means that you might get hurt or have to be vulnerable.  Do You?

He is buried at  Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego.

During his funeral, as the coffin was being moved from the hearse to the grave site his fellow  Navy SEALs lined up in two columns on both sides of the pallbearers who were making their way towards his final resting place. As the coffin passed each SEAL slammed down their gold Trident ( a gold pin they earn after completing their SEAL Training) and embedded it into the top of the wooden coffin. For nearly 30 minutes the slams were heard from across the cemetery as SEAL after SEAL drove their Trident deeply into the wooden box.

Lesson #2: Whether you are a Leader or a follower, at some point you have to be willing to drive a stake in the ground, take a stand, and declare what you that which you stand for. Have You?

And when you do that people will courageously follow you!

The world needs more Leaders to be more Courageous. You can look to others to pave the way OR you can look in the mirror … and start there!

To learn more about Michael Monsoor follow this link:

Change … The Way You Do Business!

As a Business Professional do you get paid because you solve your customer’s problems? If that’s the case you’re probably making okay money.

Do you want to make more money? Then stop focusing on the money AND CHANGE … THE WAY YOU DO BUSINESS!

  1. Become a Consultant – Know your client inside and out, understand how they operate and what keeps them up at night!
  2. Become a Prophet – Know you’re clients’ business so well that you create solutions to challenges they will have before they become problems!
  3. Become a Resource – Provide value that goes beyond the product or service you provide! (i.e. articles about their type of business, connections to people they need to know,etc.)

You can’t operate with the same mindset you had 2 years ago and expect to be successful today!


Leadership: After The Fact!

I was watching the President Bush interview this evening with Matt Lauer when it struck me just how difficult it is to be a leader. Regardless of what you think about President Bush or President Obama it’s easy to cast stones, make comments on Facebook that call one or the other stupid or ignorant … after the fact!

Yet many of these folks who cast stones think they are leaders. They talk like leaders, they even pretend to act like leaders … till it comes to really putting themselves out there during a crisis or when it is all on the line. I refer these folks as the “Mutual of Omaha Leaders” referring to Marlin Perkins on Animal Kingdom who always seemed to be hiding behind the rock while Jim (his partner) wrestled the alligator, bear, cheetah, etc.

The world has enough mediocre  leaders who play it safe, hold back, play small, or refuse to change because it’s uncomfortable or unpopular. They are the first ones to criticize the decisions of others and the first one to tell you what they would’ve done … after the fact!

Extraordinary Leaders have a sense of humility about them, they make the best decisions that they can at any given moment in time with the information they have, and then they move forward and take action. And when they are right, they credit their people. And when they are wrong, they take responsibility for the results and don’t blame others.

If you’re going to be a leader … be an extraordinary one, we have enough people hiding behind rocks waiting for someone else to wrestle the lion!

Leadership – The Draft or The Pull

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a Sprint Triathlon (a shorter version of the regular swimming, biking , and running race). But this blog isn’t about me, it’s about the two leaders I noticed and how they each chose to deal with adversity.

Leader 1: A fifteen year old kid pulling his developmentally challenged brother in a life raft behind him for 400 meters in a swimming pool while the crowd cheered them both on.

Leader 2: A racer who attempted to draft behind me during the bicycle portion of the race. Basically, using the air space I created to lay low and hide behind me so that he wouldn’t have to push himself or work as hard.

Are you a leader who believes that you don’t have to go out in front of the pack and lead. Do you believe that you can just lay low and ride on the coattails of the work that other create. Yes, it’s safe and it’s certainly easier than taking a risk and possibly being wrong or making a mistake. However it doesn’t inspire anybody!

As a leader you have to live with the consequences and results you get in your life. I guess the question you might ask yourself is … which leader do you want to be?

A fifteen year old kid who showed the world that he was willing to give his best effort regardless of his results because it was more about his brother than him? Or do you want to be more like the second person? A leader that when he looks at himself in the mirror has to own the fact that he didn’t give it his best because he feared that the results he could get on his own wouldn’t be good enough … so he cheated.

As a leader you make decisions every day. You can play it safe or you can take a risk. You can hide, stay below the radar and ride behind the work of others.

Or you can push the envelope, go out on a limb, and try something different even though there is no guarantee that you will win, be liked, be right, or be recognized. It’s your choice!

Remember that people will follow you if they trust you. If they aren’t following you it’s probably more about you than it is about them!

One last thought … extraordinary leaders inspire others … as we all stared in amazement at the courage of this young man swimming his heart out as he pulled his brother behind him, people began to say “WOW if he can do that, I can do this!”

I agreed, yes, yes I can!