Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Spiritual Nature of Heroes

I found myself spewing rhetoric to a group of folks over at Lindenwood the other day. We were in the new and recently renovated Harmon Hall where the Lindenwood School of Business and Entrepreneurship now resides. I was asked to kick off the speaker series, put on by the Center of Entrepreneurial Studies. Thanks go out to Ed Morris, Jim Elder and Roger Ellis for providing the space and such a huge crowd. A very good blend of students to entrepreneur ratio too, important. As soon as the tape is edited for fowl language and indecipherable metaphor, I will post it on youtube.

So my idea was to surround the students there with some pretty awesome heroes and, while I stood up there pontificating about how incredible my life has become, "out" some of those who had provided me a positive influence throughout the years. Mike Weiss was there from Bigshark Bicycles, John Lynch Integrated Network Cable , Jim Sheetz from CFO for Hire, John Daley from The Daley Group , Mark Johnson of Sportsman Resource Connection, Ann Mack of Trailnet, Joe Griffard, hell, I can't even remember who all was there. Listen, it was pretty easy to come up with the topic. It wasn't really about me. It was about them.

Yes, when asked to provide a lecture, I chose that which I was most comfortable with, me. So I created a PowerPoint that told the story of how I came dangerously close to an unhealthy and unbalanced broadcast of my personal spirit. I was indeed "authentically unhealthy" and got my self in to trouble from working and indulging too much. I was hospitalized with pneumonia in 1998.

This I know: in order to change the way others think of you, sometimes you have to change the "others". I went from one culture (tibe, group, clan) to another, one group of folks who were not enriching my position in life, to another; an open highway full of possibilities.

It was strategic; the repositioning of influence that got me on track, running in the direction that would soon become my storyline. It really wasn't all that hard. The key was to immerse myself in the things that were in total contrast of the things of the past. For example, after a long hard day at work, perhaps stopping off at the corner pub, or picking up a pizza and a six pack of bud to enjoy while smoking and sitting on my back deck, lamenting on how miserable I was because all I do is work and worry about work. Instead I crafted a plan where one would find me down at Castlewood State Park, shredding some single track on one of my new blingety bling, bling mountain bikes, of which I have many. My plan got me in to racing bikes, sponsoring events, training others and being fairly high profile advocate for active living. It created an authentic platform for my business to evolve, selling food and services with mission and purpose.

I am unsure exactly when it was decided to exploit this stuff, because that is what I did in order to increase my personal brand equity. Likely around the time that a handful of newspaper articles came out on how my fitness re-invention spring loaded my company, Pfoodman, with a fireworks approach to growth. Top 50 fastest growing companies in St. Louis for the past 4 years in a row. I found myself in the limelight and a H-bomb boost to my confidence and clarity. Ummm...that really is all there was to it.

The bottom line is that the motivation from exercise and less indulgence cured my head from the doldrums of what my life had become. I mentioned that I really don't work anymore. It doesn't feel like work therefore it is not. It feels like art. Art is expression and, if I am now an artist, I choose to express myself the way I am most comfortable. If only I could grow pony tail. I have always wanted to do that. We know that ain't happnin.

Being authentic is important; a discipline that one must adhere to. Playing music is one of the most challenging things I have ever done. To "decide" to embark and perform is easy, to get through a 35 song set with other aspiring musicians is not. The same with the riding of bikes. I bled a lot in the beginning. I broke two collarbones, two wrists, a finger, multiple stitches, too many crazy strawberry rashes to mention. The dues have to be paid and developing the skill is where the work lies.

I don't think anyone is truly gifted in anything, yet some folks can adapt more quickly than others. The successful people that I know who are kickin "A" doing what they do, are practitioners of what they do; they still do it a lot. They continue to try to improve and challenge themselves to rise to another level. They can be seen doing what they do and surround themselves with others who inspire them.

I was talking to "Rockin" Jake Jacobs yesterday, one the the most incredible harmonica players in St. Louis and, to be honest, likely the best in the country. He has taken an interest in teaching me what might make me a better player. I am honored to have his interest in me and must say that I feel extremely intimidated. But listening to him explain who he admires, who he studied, who he emulates and why, well.... Jake looked to his heroes in order to become what he is today. If you have not heard him play, come and see him at Lone Wolf on Oct. 23rd. It'll be a good show.

I look at being a good business person in the same light. Who I choose to study, who I admire, who I emulate. I still do it; surround myself with the best spirits I can find for strategic purpose. I do it all the time. I watch and listen to how people speak, how people present themselves, how people engage others. I seek to soak up a bit of that goodness wherever possible. I never lose sight of this. I find it easy to adapt to certain things this way. My heroes are everywhere, those with good spirits, those with emerging spirits. I choose to think people are simply in one state or the other, btw. Because we can learn something from every human being out there, regardless of where they are at on their personal journey. I choose not to think that there is a bad spirit in any of us. Just those who still have something to learn and/or imrove upon.

Thanks Lindenwood for providing the stage in more ways than one.


1 comment:

Lynchmob said...

Enjoyed watching you speak. Nothing would say more about the Pfoodman brand than a skullet. I say, "Go for it"