gerry logo black sized

I’ve been writing about the fabulous team of people that help make my encore career successful.

Meet Gerry Dziub, My Physical Fitness Trainer and vital member of my Encore Career Team.

Up until now I’ve described the amazing talents of my “virtual” team—the highly skilled people I depend on to keep my business going and thriving—and people I only know online and/or by phone. They include my fabulous Virtual Assistant and thought partner, Kathy Hadzibajric; my talented cartoon buddy, John Junson; my lively, funny and highly skilled copy editor, Terri Lively; my enthusiastic, energetic publishing facilitator, Greg Faxon, and others.

Today I want to write about a non-virtual team member—one that, if the truth be known, I wish I didn’t know and did not need on my team. Sorry for being so blunt.

It’s not that he’s an unkind person or missing talents or hard to get along with. In fact, he’s become a great friend but I would do anything not to meet with him—or ever see him again.

gerry dziub picWho is this team member and why do I keep him on the team if I dislike being around him so much? He’s Gerry Dziub and his small, private workout gym, “Ironworks”, is a mile down the hill from my house. After realizing that if I didn’t sign up for personal training, my chances for serious health problems in my later years would sky rocket, I signed up. That was 13 years ago—and I’ve been dragging my body to this torture chamber twice a week ever since.

The truth? The ONLY reason I go to the gym is that if I don’t, I pay anyway—and he gets his feelings hurt. (Sometimes I blow it off in spite of the hefty penalty.)

I couldn’t ask for any better situation. Gerry turns on my classical music station when I walk in. There’s fruit and water for breaks, hand cleaner, clean towels, excellent equipment—plus he’s very enjoyable company. Now, granted, that I’ve deliberately intimidated him with my height, age, loud voice and whatever else I could muster, so that he doesn’t constantly challenge me (like he does many others) when I’m worn out—or bug me when I arrive late and leave early—frequent occurrences. So folks, it’s the least painful pain I can imagine—plus he’s a college grad, B.A. in Physical Education and teaching. We’ve had some fun, engaging conversations but it’s still a super drag for me to even walk in the door.

What does this have to do with my Encore Career? Well, when I started going to Gerry’s gym, I was employed fulltime as a CEO of a major charity in Southern California. I had driven by multiple times in my daily 3 hour round trip commute and I kept thinking that I really should check it out. Then, I went for a medical appointment and the nurse announced my weight. What, I yelled, “that’s impossible. Weigh me again.” She did. Same result, only ½ pound more.

I signed up at Gerry’s gym the next day without even asking how much.

Then the slogging started. Every Tuesday and Thursday morning I was scheduled to be at the gym at 9:30am. Somehow I always found something I absolutely had to do that made me late. That’s not changed in all these years.

What did change is that I retired early, quit my day job and started my own business—or Encore Career as it’s now called.

Think about what person whose business is phone/computer customers does all day? Sit. Sit. And Sit. Endlessly.

Impact? Not only not good for you but very good for weight gain, stiffening joints and well, you know the story.

So, it was clear that I absolutely had to continue what my doc called “bare minimum” exercise—two hours per week at Gerry’s gym.

And I did, kicking and screaming every Tuesday and Thursday morning.

One day, after I’d been running my business for 6 months, he said something about a problem with a difficult client— no name or details. I listened—maybe for the first time—with total fascination. It sounded like he was talking about two or three of my clients.

Each day, I began asking him questions about how he ran his business—his successes and challenges, joys and sorrows. I learned some very interesting things. The first was that he and I were in essentially the same business: helping people achieve their goals—whether physical, emotional, interpersonal or leadership—i.e, coaching. The more we talked, the more clear it became that we had many similar tools in our coaching toolbox.

While I would rather have avoided the gym completely, I began to see this as a valuable resource. We talked about our frustrations, our celebrations and our dilemmas. We kept discovering how coaching people to become more physically strong and coaching people to become stronger in other areas like management and personal efficacy were so similar.

Leadership Lessons:

I won’t even pretend to say that going to the gym became fun. That would be a bold-faced lie. I still hate it but I still go—at least 90% of the time. But the dread is less because I turned what was a total drag into an opportunity to learn a new perspective—a priceless leadership lesson.

You can become a better leader by becoming a better listener, paying more attention to what is happening around you—how it’s working, how it could have been done better—what you might have done differently.

If I’d been more alert to what I could have learned at the gym, I might even have made better leadership decisions. Or at least, staying fit could have been less of a drag—or even an inspiration.

Crap. Tomorrow’s Tuesday and that means it’s gym day again. Oh, well—maybe I’ll learn something I can blog about!