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6 Thoughts to Get Back on the Road to Success

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Mark Miller, the COO of Merritt Athletic Clubs, shares six thoughts to be back onto the road to success after the last two years.

This time last year, we thought we were looking back on the longest 12 months in the history of our industry and lives; yet it continued.

So here we sit April 2022. A lot has changed in our landscape and will be forever. We could not have known then that the past two years would be challenging and memorable. Yet even now, when things have been difficult for so long, our present situation does not have to define our future direction. It only tells us where we are starting from.

As such, I like to offer six insights or rules for us all to pave a future that is bright and keep us on the right road:

1. Focus on the windshield but check your six. With all the changes we have been through recently, the rear-view mirror is not a reliable predictor of the future. It should inform us but not direct us. Most if not all our business models are different, our workforce is in flux and uncertainty and our future a little ambiguous. We can no longer operate with the mentality from 2019, our plans and strategy no longer work. Recent performance is more instructive than years of history. Learn from today and not just the past. Implement rifle shots for future learning so you can pave a new future path.

2. Scan the road. Headlights are there for a reason, they illuminate the road ahead. What do you do to scan the environment all around you? It is imperative you focus on your members, employees and the market. Active eyes keep up with changing conditions. If you have not become involved in working with your state and local executives, you should begin to do so. They need to continue to see our industry as a critical part of the care continuum.

3. Become a beginner again. Many of us have learned a lot in our lifetimes and even more in the recent months. However, I shared on a recent podcast the more you teach the less you remember what it is like to be a student, and the more a doctor works the less they remember what it is like to be a patient. This applies to us also. The more we are in the business, the less we remember what it feels like to be a customer or member. To be a beginner in our clubs. It is time to get back to the roots and experience it again. Build your new model along the new path of a member or team member.

4. Cut the anchors. Clunky old systems and processes that slow you down or cause friction should be retired? If you hear, “Well, we have always done that” then it is time to ditch it.

Are underachievers taking up your time? If so, it may be time to have those crucial conversation. Are you avoiding things, procrastinating on the not important things or people? If so, you may be spending too much time avoiding potholes, and not enough time addressing them. Roads do not get repaired by wishing and wanting. Only by action — so act on the key issues today. We can no longer afford distractions that use resources but do not create value. Especially if those resources are our mental states. Remember as one of the key speakers at IHRSA said, “Kill the zombies — removing obstacles — remains a key leadership responsibility. Get to work.”

5. Do not ignore the gas light. Nothing strikes terror in the heart like that tiny light that says only 50 miles left till empty. Yet many of us keep driving even after we know we should pull over and find gas. However, if this pandemic taught us anything it’s that ignoring the warning signs will cause irreversible damage. It is easy to ignore in good times, but today we need to build a system that warns us about issues and where we may need improve or where opportunities may lay. Complacency is a horrible disease in our business. Keep in mind that those who continue cultivate their strategic assets to get work done, execute on business strategy, evolve, and adapt it. They engage members in new ways and as part of their life will continue to thrive.

6. Do not forget about me. In crises, our response as leaders most likely has been to hunker down, power through and take a breather once it was over. We pave the way and set the example. But that was then at the height of the crisis; this is now. Stop using “getting the business back to normal” as a reason to neglect your physical, mental and emotional health. First off, this is the new normal. Second, you cannot lead from front if you are sick and out. And third, your burned-out workforce is counting on you to model the way. What example do your behaviors set? Is your attitude and mindset worth catching? Are you showing up as your best self? It is amazing when you get your internal house in order what you deliver and give to the outside. It is time to focus on you.

True leadership means building an organization that can thrive in the face of continuous change. It can adapt and persevere, and that is not only humble in themselves but hungry for the impact they can and will make. We are constant students of the game and are always working to get better to give more. So, let us stop waiting for things to get back to normal and reset what it means to be successful today.

No more talk of COVID-19 or a pandemic. Just talk about the great future for our industry and the impact we will continue to make the lives of our members and team members. Let us elevate in 2022.

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Mark Miller

Mark Miller is the COO of Merritt Clubs.

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