First who, Then what

I want to share a few words. A couple weeks ago someone sent me a personal story about an injury she sustained a while back and her road to recovery. It had a happy ending, with her coming up to do the long Polar Roll-EX, and finishing it. An incredible story. Within the story was a brief reference to a friend and her story.

My friend has had her sights on the Triple Crown for a while.  In our little circle of riders – she’s gotten so much “what you need to do is…” and “you have no idea what you’re getting yourself into” lectures from well meaning friends and acquaintances that tell her how impossibly hard these events are.  So much doubt, so many head shakes.  Well, she doesn’t give a shit.  We, (read:  our even closer, tighter, circle of WOMEN riders) call her All-In-Anna… she keeps going, she is strong, she is dedicated, motivated and she gets it done.

This little story, it resonated with me, for a couple of reasons.

People ask me all the time if I think they should sign up for one of the 906AT events, or if they do sign up, if I think they can finish. A guy asked me this summer if I could tell which Crusher racers would finish and which would quit, based on our interaction when they stopped at my house. I don’t even know half the people. Not only did I not have a damn clue, the question never once crossed my mind. Can you do it? I have no fucking idea, but I know you can’t unless you try, and that’s the message real friends should send.

We don’t get offended by the constant barrage of marketing we endure. Or the political ads. Influencers. Tik Toks. The Gram. Facebook. Everyone trying to sell us something. Brand ambassadors for everything from nose clippers to your favorite recovery drink. No one balks at that, but god forbid you actively put yourself out there and share your story to help other people. Where’s your humility! How dare you be an individual in this group-think world. You should be more humble and stop making all the snowflakes uncomfortable. So people don’t share much about their life, what they’re doing, and how they overcome obstacles, to preserve their constituent fragile ego, and everyone loses.

Good to Great by Jim Collins, love the book. Read it many times. Last year I began leveraging one of the concepts from the book to reevaluate my personal life and work. The concept is called First who, Then what, here’s an excerpt from the book: The good-to-great leaders understood three simple truths. First, if you begin with “who,” rather than “what,” you can more easily adapt to a changing world. If people join the bus primarily because of where it is going, what happens if you get ten miles down the road and you need to change direction? You’ve got a problem. But if people are on the bus because of who else is on the bus, then it’s much easier to change direction: “Hey, I got on this bus because of who else is on it; if we need to change direction to be more successful, fine with me.” Second, if you have the right people on the bus, the problem of how to motivate and manage people largely goes away. The right people don’t need to be tightly managed or fired up; they will be self-motivated by the inner drive to produce the best results and to be part of creating something great. Third, if you have the wrong people, it doesn’t matter whether you discover the right direction; you still won’t have a great company. 

Begin with who. Take an inventory of who’s in your life and why. Are they in your life for you? How do they show it? In what ways do they influence your thoughts and behavior? Spend some time on it, it’ll be worth it. From both sides, personal and professional, I made changes.

The right people. Will inspire you, and be inspired by you. They’ll be accountable for you, and by you. No head shaking. No doubt. They’ll probably even join you.

Addition by subtraction. You might know exactly what you want to do, or where you want to go, but you keep bumping into the wrong people. You might be surprised how much things can change simply by removing some of the influences that aren’t good for you.

Find the right people, figure out what you wanna do, and share it with the world. Storytelling is a critical component for creating change, and bringing people together. I guarantee there’s another “you” out there, seemingly lost and looking for the right tribe to fit into.

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