Some of the most effective leaders I’ve ever worked with did not have official management roles. They were the kind of person who others want to follow; that sort of natural leadership isn’t necessarily teachable. It can be cultivated and encouraged, but if you aren’t someone people are drawn to, it is a tall order to change your nature (and theirs).

One of the toughest things in my working life was being promoted from staff to supervisor within the same location. I’ve done this twice, in two different industries. It’s difficult to suddenly be in charge of your peers; I couldn’t be a coworker (or buddy) anymore. The people that were following me because they wanted to suddenly were required to – and it didn’t always sit well on either side.

Leadership vs. Management

A reminder to the executives: being a boss and being a leader are not one and the same. A boss tells you what to do. A leader teaches you the skills you need in order to know what to do and how to do it on your own. Which one are you?

Joe DeSena,

As leaders of 1DOS and the 1DOS Foundation, Amy Summers and I have found the joy in what Joe describes here. The pride we get when we see Deana Novak, our fitness scholarship recipient, using the tools she’s learned and crushing her goals ahead of schedule – or taking a team of first-timers through a Spartan course, watching them realize that they CAN do it, they just didn’t realize they could? Those feelings are unbeatable.

As a shiver, we have had so many victories, scale and non-scale. One of my favorites is Lydia Kulbida who, in fall 2018, went to Killington, VT, home of the original Spartan Beast, by herself – and crushed it. When a race includes something called the Death March (roughly 1.25 mile climb up a K1 slope with 1700 feet of elevation gain), it’s no joke. So, yeah, suffice it to say that Lydia is a badass.

Time To Walk the Walk

There’s a flip side to this leadership thing, though. We have encouraged our members to push themselves – and they have! But what about the management team? We have helped our members find their challenges and crush them, but haven’t driven ourselves like we could. I found myself in training doing enough to complete the races, but not challenging to be my best. My progress was stagnant; I needed to shake myself up. As we often do, Amy, Jack and I were talking and this came up.

We realized that to be true to ourselves, true to the 1DOS spirit, we need to continue to set big hairy ass goals of our own, and knock them down. I talked about this before; it’s time to lead from the front. To keep ourselves on track, to walk the walk, we will pick an event once a year just for the management team. It’s our management retreat, conducted while running up the side of a mountain or crawling under barb wire or some other crazy thing. We call it “Saturday”.

Picking Our Spots

In order to make this work, we need to find challenges that scare us a little; that was our original mantra after all. That is the type of thing we are looking for, something we haven’t done before. I spent part of today looking at pictures from our first Beast, 2017 West Virginia. It completed our first trifecta, and for the five of us, that first Spartan Shark group, it was an amazing experience.

Looking at the sheer joy and satisfaction on our faces, I remembered a little of how it felt to be there, to be living it the first time. Look, I’ve run 7 Spartans – I’m hardly the most decorated racer on the planet. But seeing those photos? Yeah, that’s the look I see on newbie faces now. So it’s time. It’s time to live for us, at least some of the time.

What are you doing next? My challenge to you is to do something new, something you haven’t done before. Let me know what it is in the comments; doesn’t have to be limited to Spartan, of course. Don’t be afraid to push your limits. Go do it just for you. I promise you won’t regret it!