Life Lessons from Lifting Weights
By: Jim Mathis
Years ago I realized that youth was no longer on my side, so I decided to join a fitness club and start lifting weights to get into shape. I was assigned a personal trainer who took my measurements and prepared a chart showing the exercises I should be doing. I stored the chart in a file drawer at the gym, just as many of the other members did.
I faithfully and regularly worked out, recording my progress, which I felt was somewhat remarkable. One day a few months later, however, when I arrived for my regular workout it was disconcerting to find the file drawer was gone. I was informed by managers at the fitness club that they had thrown out the charts. They explained they did not know how many people kept personal records anyway. Besides, one individual stated, it was not their responsibility to keep track of everybody’s charts anyway.
The thoughtless discarding of the fitness charts, along with the complacent attitude of the staff, made me furious. I easily could have kept my chart in my gym bag if I had known they were going to discard them.
Not long after that incident, the management posted signs at the parking spaces closest to the door stating they were reserved for the owner and managers. It became common to see the parking lot filled, overflowing with cars parked on the street, while the four or five “special” parking spaces by the door remained vacant, being reserved in case the owner were to stop by.
These separate actions might not have seemed of major importance, but they communicated one message very clearly. It was obvious that the management of this fitness club had little interest in the needs of the members.
As you might expect, I promptly canceled my membership and moved to another gym. Now 30 years later, I still work out and lift weights regularly, striving to remain as fit and healthy as possible, despite my advancing years. I strongly suspect that I might actually be in better shape now than I was when I was 30 years old. Of course, I will never know, since my original fitness club chose to destroy my workout charts years ago, leaving me with no basis for comparison.
As a businessman, I have turned this negative experience into a positive. Realizing the importance of my customers and the reality that without them my company would cease to exist, I make a conscious effort to keep their needs and interests foremost in my decision-making. I could operate according to an attitude such as, “It is my business, and I can do what I want,” but understand from my own experience that philosophy will not retain customers for very long.
In the New Testament of the Bible, we find a principle that applies to situations such as this: “Do nothing out of selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind let each of you regard others as more important than himself; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4).
The first two words of that passage serve as a good reminder: If you fail to consider the needs and interests of others in whatever action you plan to take, it would be better to do nothing.
Until next week!
Jim Mathis is the owner of a photography studio in Overland Park, Kansas, specializing in executive, commercial and theatrical portraits. He formerly was a coffee shop manager and executive director of CBMC in Kansas City, Kansas and Kansas City, Missouri.
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