Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Fruit of the Loom

Years ago when I toiled in the dark satanic mills of a major corporation they used to send us on leadership courses. These were supposed to convert introverted analytical geeks such as myself into some kind of cross between Alexander the Great, Henry Ford and Mother Teresa. Dynamic, patient, thrusting, empathetic, energetic, innovative, compassionate, tough, caring, kick-ass leaders of industry. Impossible of course but we all played along with the game.

One of these programs was run by the Center for Creative Leadership. (And if you don't believe my tongue-in-cheek description of the program's objectives check out their page on 12 Leader Competencies.) Anyway, the company sent me on CCL's Leadership Development Program which is a 5 day course that "uses a variety of in-depth self-awareness tools and activities to enhance leadership capabilities. Participants learn strategies for continuous development through extensive assessment, group discussions, self-reflection, small-group activities and personal coaching." Which translated into English means that your boss, your colleagues and the people that work for you get to answer anonymous questionnaires about why they hate you and then you get to spend a week wallowing in all that delicious "feedback" with a bunch of other victims and some amateur shrinks from CCL. Oh - it was a joy, I can tell you.

As a participant I also had to spend many hours before the course filling in questionnaires before the course on my leadership style. I lied of course. I assumed everyone else would too. One of the questions -- like most of the questions it seemed to be somewhat unrelated to our company's business of turning cheap commodities into overpriced consumer goods -- one of the questions was "What personal health worries do you have?"

Of course this is a bit like, "When did you stop beating your wife?" No way am I going to answer, "Oh the usual stuff for a middle-aged male. I worry about cholesterol and blood pressure, testicular cancer and prostate cancer.... could that mole be a skin cancer, did I lose even more hair this month, am I losing my sex drive, are my teeth falling out and why do I have nightmares about my boss?"

So after a couple of seconds thought I answered, "Avoiding running injuries."

Ha ha, I thought I was so smart. It's a bit like those job interviews where they ask you, "What is your greatest weakness?" I assume nobody answers that they are lazy, that they cheat on their expenses or that they fudged the numbers in that last report. Of course not. You give an answer like, "I work too hard" or "I have high expectations of my co-workers".

"Avoiding injuries" is really saying "I am an alpha male. I keep myself in shape. I go out and run for an hour or so every morning before going into the office at 6:30. I push myself too hard sometimes." Just the right tone for the shrinks at Center for Creative Leadership.

Strange thing was it was almost true. About the only health problem I had to worry about back then was the occasional inflamed tendon or twisted ankle. Of course runners obsess about injuries. You can get Plantar Fasciitis or Iliotibial Band Syndrome or even Exercise Induced Compartment Syndrome
to name just a few of the possibilities.

Since I started training to run marathons I have had very little in the way of running injuries. I've been using Jeff Galloway's run and walk method this year and it does seem to be doing the trick of gradually increasing my endurance without allowing me to push so hard that I get injured.

Until last week. I was in week 17 of the 26 week training program and it called on one day for "23 miles easy". I know - Mr Galloway does have a dry sense of humor. Easy indeed!

But I got through the 23 miles. But it wasn't exactly "easy". I don't think that running 23 miles is ever going to be easy for me.

After the run, I cooled down and then took a shower. Aaargh! Intense sharp pain in the small of my back as the water hit it. I jumped out of the shower and examined my back in the mirror. There was a small rectangular raw red sore in the middle of the back of my waist. Must have been caused by the label of my underwear. How weird. It was so well delineated you could almost read the writing on the label. (Hence the title of this posting if you've read this far mystified by the lack of connection between title and content).

Oh well. If that's the worst injury I get running this year I guess it ain't so bad. At least it didn't stop me from sailing on Sunday.


Paul said...

Great writing! An interesting blog is always a good find. I also get an incredulous feeling when I encounter corporate teamwork/personal development/maximize your potential 'educational offerings'. It seems so phony to me - unless you're in sales in which case all bets are off.

I promise I won't ask "Boxers of Briefs?".

Craig said...

I am one of the "amateur shrinks" from CCL. I quit after you came through our program. Just kidding! I got a big kick out of your description of the program--sometimes it seems the same way to me. Hey, our stuff works for a lot of folks, its not for everyone. I'm thrilled (and not a little jealous) of how your life has ended up. Sailing your Laser and teaching kids to sail. Best wishes for a fresh breeze.

Craig C.

Post a Comment