Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Supporting Cast - Why you need one

"There are basically two kinds of people.  People who accomplish things, and people who claim to have accomplished things.  The first group is less crowded." - Mark Twain

"My parents are my backbone.  Still are.  They're the only group that will support you if you score 0 or if you score 40." - Kobe Bryant

"So guess what folks?  NO EXCUSES!  Just get moving." - Cricket Walker

Okay, so I joined a gym just about exactly a month ago.  Have worked out several times, in fact.  Have even lost a few pounds doing it. 


Not yay enough, I must add--I'm not svelte yet.  The picture of the 165-pound guy running the Marine Corps Marathon still hangs there on the wall, taunting this 265-pound guy.  I'll, um, hopefully get there.  Eventually.  I think.  But yay, isn't a loss of a few pounds a good start?

The guy who signed us up for the gym membership is brilliant.  He's around the gym quite often, and he makes a point of recognizing people who've signed up recently whenever he sees them.  No cheering squad, but no firing squad, either.  Just a "hi, glad to see you're here again," message, delivered with a sincere smile and repeated every time he sees us. It's funny, in fact.  There are hundreds of people there when I go, yet not a one of them makes a difference in whether or not I go again quite like Brian does. 

Meanwhile, I just got pulled into a new Facebook group: Just Get Moving.  It was created by my friend Cricket (the famous Cricket Walker I quoted above), who's always doing something motivational.  Recently she's started posting her workouts (simple stuff: number of steps taken, number of miles walked, number of floors climbed) for the same reasons I used to post my word counts to the blog.  First, it's motivational to others; I know I usually grumble when I see her post if I haven't done my own part that day.  Second, it keeps the poster motivated when we're sticking our progress up there for everyone to see.  It's the old carrot and stick idea--the carrot when we've done well, and the stick when we're weighing whether or not to sit one out (after all, it's just one workout) in terms of how it'll feel to post "I was a big lazy couch potato today" (ish) to the Internet. 

Anyway, Cricket's new group is there for the members to talk about healthy eating, basic exercise, and most importantly just getting off of our duffs and doing something.  And it's a nice group to be in.  It gets to be a slog, going to the gym and watching the diet and then not losing weight as fast as I'd like to, and having somebody there to discuss the ups and downs with is really important.

That's a lesson, by the way, that bears repeating in nearly every theater of our lives.  Not long ago Rachelle Gardner made a point that we authors should surround ourselves with like-minded people: join, for example, a writing club.  Or a reading club.  Or both.  I know I get a charge out of Writers Wednesdays at the Capitol Ale House here with the James River Writers; just talking to people who are going through the same ups and downs and same long, slow slog through creating a novel-length story is motivational as hell. 

Similarly, one of the favorite activities, way back when I worked for the Arizona Technology Incubator, was the every-couple-weeks CEO meetings.  As I recall the events, all the CEOs of the various companies that were operating under the roof of the ATI (a high-tech incubator) would gather to eat lunch and discuss, in a freestyle fashion, the various successes and challenges they were facing, not in a boardroom high-stakes kind of way, but rather just informally as a group sharing stuff (without, of course, the stereotypical Kum-Ba-Yah singing and hugs at the end).  Yeah, they were sorta kinda (but not directly) competitors, and so they avoided proprietary topics, but there was always plenty of discussion to be had anyway. 

The principle was simple: it's hard at the top, and it takes time to build a business.  A lot of times people look at entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Larry Ellison and see a guy who one day said "I have an idea for a software business" and the next month made a gajillion dollars.  There's no such thing in this world as long-lasting overnight success, though.  It's easy to watch shows like "How'd You Get So Rich?" and think otherwise, but every big business out there took time to build. 

Time, and challenges.  The founder of Charter College once told me a tale of his early years, having to dip into his own savings just to make payroll.  That story certainly isn't unique to his business.  Similarly, there are hundreds of accounts of people reaching a point in a novel's progress and not being able to move ahead for a while.  At the same time, we who are trying to lose weight have good weeks and bad weeks, and some of those bad weeks we cause ourselves (nom nom nom!), and others we don't. 

That, then, is why people working at long-term projects like weight loss (coupled, hopefully, with getting back in shape after *mumbledy*-five years of slothful living), writing novels, and building businesses all need some sort of support group. 



  1. What a wonderful article! Isn't it amazing how much more we can do when we have the support of our friends and loved ones surrounding us?

  2. Thank you "The Other Stephen King" for posting this.