Courtesy of David Arluck, Founder, CEO Fitter and Faster Swim Tour
As 2014 comes to a close, it is the time to reflect upon the year’s memories, proud moments, obstacles battled and overcome, and set goals for the new year.
A few days after Thanksgiving, I attended the funeral of someone I admired. I’d like to share some personal anecdotes. Some relate to swimming, others to business, and all of it relates to life.
Gerry Leeds was 92 years old when he passed away on Thanksgiving. He was the father of my Uncle Michael. While Gerry wasn’t a relative to me, he was very important to people I love very much and thousands of other people whose life he helped make better through business and philanthropic endeavors.
In 1939 Gerry escaped Nazi Germany. He came to America with very few material things. His assets were his vision and determination. Gerry made the most of everything he did… every day.
As an entrepreneur, some businesses were successful and others were not. His last company, CMP Media, was extremely successful and was a model for how large, for-profit businesses can have a positive impact on society.
Gerry asked many thought provoking questions that challenged me to think about my goals.
“What will you be doing in five years?”
“How will you get there?”
“Why will you succeed?”
“Send me your business plan.”
Gerry was philosophical:
“By principle, I’m flexible. But, I’m not flexible about my principles.”
Let that sink in awhile and you’ll get a small inkling of the type of person he was.
His company set expectations for employee performance and for the experience that customers and vendors could look forward to when doing business with CMP. This helped me when I founded the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour and I established a set of principles that are published on the About Page of our company’s web site.
Gerry’s funeral was a celebration that was attended by hundreds of people. Gerry’s wide-ranging interests and characteristics were reflected in the distinctly different content of the eulogies each of his children delivered. There’s a lot to say about someone who has accomplished so much, been so generous and lived a wondrous life. Gerry’s funeral was more than just a tribute to the life he lived. It was inspiring.
Gerry said,“If you want to live an A+ life, you’ve got to do A+ work.”
How many of us challenge ourselves to do A+ work, day in and day out? And then try to outdo ourselves the next day, the next month or year?
Do we put in the work our competitors and colleagues miss or aren’t willing to do? Do we make sacrifices? Do we seek to do things better than we were taught or even asked? Do we strive to do things that no other person has ever done before?
To me, A+ work is easy to recognize and appreciate. I work very hard to associate our company with employees, contractors, athletes, vendors, sponsors and other partners who strive and ultimately achieve A+ performance.
But, how does one define an A+ life? One person’s vision for an A+ life may be different than the next… And to each they’re equally valid and special. On the Fitter and Faster Swim Tour we hang a banner at every clinic that reads, “Every Goal is Important”. The premise is that if a personal goal is to make a spot on a high school relay team, that’s an important goal. If the goal is to swim in college, that is also a great goal. If you want to swim to make friends and be healthy, that’s a perfectly legitimate reason to swim. If your goal is to make the Olympics, that is also terrific.
Being true to a goal, is being true to yourself. Cutting corners is cheating yourself, your colleagues and your teammates. No matter what your goal, put in the work to achieve that goal.
Business and sports are very similar.
We have been fortunate to work with several Olympians (and others who have strived to make the Olympics) who weren’t born with the physical “tools or physical assets” one would typically look for in the greatest swimmers in the world. Several such as Tyler McGill, Nick Thoman, Arianna Vanderpool Wallace, and Claire Donahue are much smaller than their competitors. However, their resilience, commitment and perseverance have helped them to excel. They work on all the finer techniques and watch other great swimmers. They do not look for short cuts, but rather they understand that each little bit that they learn makes a difference.
They wanted an A+ result and put in the necessary A+ work. These champions know that a goal isn’t worth anything if you don’t equip yourself with the tools, information and other resources needed to succeed. The goal is only as valid as the consistent effort put forth.
If you fall just a little short of a personal goal, or hit a bump in the road, use it as a learning experience. Get back up and strive to accomplish what you originally set out to do. As the famous philosopher, Rocky Balboa once said: “Life ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!”
In the coming year, I wish everyone the passion to relentlessly work to achieve your goals… and to live your own A+ life.
— David Arluck
Founder, CEO Fitter and Faster Swim Tour
Founder, CEO Arluck Promotions