Thursday, November 26, 2015

Authentic Living

by Gordo Byrn

Next week, I am going to write about Big Jobs. If you get the chance then read the source article that started me down my train of thought.

As I mentioned last week, I'm prone to a mental trap of telling myself that I deserve to stray from what's required for me to achieve my goals. I used a series of small examples to illustrate (missed training, eating dessert, sleeping in, and manners). These little things are risky (for me) because they reinforce a way of thinking that can lead to big errors and misjudgments.

Most of the criminals that I've encountered in my life -- particularly people that have stolen from me -- started small and felt they deserved to bend the rules a bit. In fact, they will tell you "nobody was hurt," "you made them do it," "everybody else was doing it," "they had no choice," "they did it for someone other than themselves" ...all typical post-fact rationalizations (each one avoiding taking direct personal responsibility).

Ben Franklin said that an empty sack cannot stand upright. When I first read that quote, I believe it was inside Poor Charlie's Almanac and it was probably shaded to point out that it's easier for a financially secure individual to be morally strong. While I think the opposite is true (it's tougher for an insecure person to be strong), I am not convinced that financial security leads to improved moral strength.

I just finished reading The Big Short and it reinforced a general unease that's been growing with most of the financial services industry. We absolutely need traditional banking and credit but it's difficult to see socially redeeming characteristics for much of the sector. By enabling the sector to grow through free money, unrestricted leverage, financial "innovation" and lack of regulation, we are all parties (patsies?) to the effects on our pocketbooks. The direct subsidy that I offer the sector (by way of zero interest rates on my savings) is worth more than the net income of my business.

Anyhow, my purpose isn't to rip on the sector -- there are good people in it; those people are trying to make a living and be the best at what they do. My purpose is to point out that our savings -- and tax dollars -- are offering a historically unprecedented subsidy to the financial services sector. Quite probably the largest transfer of wealth (to the most wealthy segment of any society) in the history of the world.

What does this have to do with being authentic?
Well, we often claim that we have no choice. In fact, choice might be all we have! Very few of us have the ability to directly impact our societies but if we exercise our personal choice then, collectively, things will change. Even if they don't change, you will be amazed at the positive influence you can have from being true to yourself.

A couple weeks back I shared two questions: What do you do? Who do you do it with?

Step back to business and consider: What does your company do and what are the results to your customers, suppliers, shareholders, bankers?

Step back to coaching and consider: What does your team do and what are the results to your team, coaches, race directors, suppliers?

In the blogging and self-help community, a popular line of thinking is that "business doesn't matter" or "business exists to support your real life." Really? Endurance Corner has a direct interaction with a couple thousand people every single month and we're supposed to think that it doesn't matter? I think that's a trap that's much more dangerous than a bowl of ice cream or some poor manners. I strongly believe that our success as a business (and more directly my success as a person) will be tied to how true the organization is to the values of its members (not just its founder!).

What are those values?

  • Value for money: In the video clip at the start of this article I point out that paying an advisor money doesn't improve performance. Triathlon is a unique demographic (probably a lot more in common with golf than running).
  • Long term performance: We exist to help you maximize your potential over time. We're going to continually improve and offer you more each year. Justin first started me down this path by observing (in our camps business) that we're not perfect but we'll be better each time you come back and visit with us. For me, there's something really appealing about acknowledging that we have a lot of work to do but... we're getting better all the time.

Next week, I'll continue with how I combine a desire to be authentic with the urge to tackle Big Jobs.


Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog here.

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