As they say, life is short. And as you grow older, it seems to move more quickly. At various times in your life, you likely have looked back at what you have accomplished. In some areas, you may measure up to your expectations. In other areas, you may fall short.
For some people, being married and having children is their greatest accomplishment. For others, reaching a certain level in their career is a point of pride. Those who have done both likely feel a tremendous sense of satisfaction. For others, the accomplishment they seek is to make a certain amount of money, to travel extensively, to have nice things or to be in the media spotlight. The accomplishments we each strive toward are likely as varied as each person reading this column.
However, I am certain that at some point in our lives we all look back at our accomplishments and wonder whether we have made a difference in the world. I cannot speak for your personal accomplishments, but I can say that as fitness professionals, you have made a difference. Some of you can point to a big accomplishment. Take Chris Powell, host of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition,” who helped David Smith lose 400 pounds in two years. Perhaps you had a similar success story—but you just did so without the TV fanfare.
As significant as it is to help people transform their lives like this, not everyone has done so. That does not make your significance any less. Perhaps your biggest contribution has been a collection of the small things you do every day. The smile and hello that you offer to members as they walk in each day (extra points if you can call them by name). The fact that you keep the equipment at your facility in good shape and ensure your club is clean. The way you hire the best people, train them well and treat them with respect.
It is remembering a member’s birthday or an employee’s birthday or that their child was in the hospital. It is handwriting a quick congratulations note to a member who has reached a goal. It is being involved in your club and the lives of your members and staff rather than sitting in your office, far removed from the reason you probably started your club: to make a difference in people’s lives.
One person who has kept this in mind for almost 50 years is Red Lerille, founder of Red Lerille’s Health & Racquet Club in Lafayette, LA. He is this year’s Club Industry Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. Despite creating a successful club that has led him to what seems like personal financial security, Lerille has not forgotten that the small things count. He does not have an office, preferring to stand at the reception desk to greet members when he is not busy taking care of other “small things” that will make a big difference in his members’ lives. He makes every connection count because every connection does count. And he is making a difference in the world because he realizes that “the world” begins with the people who cross his path every day.
As long as you keep this in mind, you can also look back at your life and say that any large accomplishment is something to take great satisfaction in, but the collection of small moments is something to relish.