- Human Connection
- The “Alpha Paradox” – Burying the old dinosaurs
- My Journey
- The “Alpha Paragon” – Watching the rising stars
Since humans began to inhabit the earth, paradox (absurdity) and paragon (ideal) have been subjects of great interest.
Humans need connections. We are hard-wired to be part of a collective. It was the way early humans survived. Most of us fanatically need to belong – to a team, a unit, a group, a clan, etc. So, why does it seem to be harder and harder to be a member of a truly cohesive team.
Well, I have my theories. And, I think my ideas will stand the test of time.
Before I go further, let’s clarify my use of the word “Alpha” in this blog. The “Alpha Male or Female” is simply the person in charge: Grand Pooh-Bah, CEO, Director, President, Chairperson – the “Leader” with or without a title.
The “Alpha Paradox” – Burying the old dinosaurs
As I watched our culture, country, and world change and evolve over the last few decades, I am reminded that the leaders on center stage are part of my generation. I’ve watched leaders of big business and big government continually disappoint time and again. Frankly, I have a tough time accepting some of these celebrated people as true leaders. Let me give you a couple of glaring examples to make my point.
Example One: Corporate Executives
Here’s a staggering statistic: CEO pay has increased 1,008% since 1978, while typical worker pay has edged up 12%. According to Forbes, the CEOs of the country’s top 350 businesses were paid $17.2mm on average. Employees in those industries (ranging from retail, to technology, to manufacturing) earned on average $64,500. That’s a 278-to-1 pay ratio between workers and executives. I know there are lots of reasons for this – from stock awards to inflated financial markets – some mired in corruption, some above board. Sidebar: When did legal and ethical become so disparate? I realize some leaders have an abundance of experience and talent and carry loads of responsibility – so I understand they deserve higher compensation. But some of the disproportionate salaries teeter on the absurd. Are the Alphas in these leadership roles true leaders? Are they worth it?
Example Two: Political Officials
Globally and certainly here in the US, we have a void of strong political leadership. How and why we have produced so many incompetent government officials are fodder for debate. Politicians respond to the demand of their funders, not necessarily their voters. In many cases, there are no requirements for running for office – no experience necessary. Some of the blame needs to be placed on voters. Voter ignorance and disinformation through personalized media diets mean we cling first, to our emotions and then, to our facts, assumptions, and beliefs. Politicians are driven by “re-election activities” and “career protection activities”. Some world leaders get their jobs through birthright! This is insanity at the highest level. Enough said…
Here is the kicker! There is little to no accountability in example one or example two.
Okay, back to my original point of belonging to a team – and a cohesive team at that. Leaders shape teams and the dynamics within teams. Without dedicated, competent, and servant leaders, our belonging comes into question. A sense of belonging is crucial to our life satisfaction, happiness, mental and physical health, and even longevity. It gives us a sense of purpose and meaning. Leaders, by definition, act with integrity and establish trust. Leaders are supposed to inspire us with purpose and meaning.
It’s time the old dinosaur, Alpha Paradox leadership, is buried. We need a new generation of leaders with persistence to stay the course and forward-thinking to adapt and change.
To be clear, my generation has many compassionate and dedicated leaders. Many leaders my age have backbones and stand up for those they lead. They respect their teams and treat them with great care. Yet, in my opinion, there are too many in high places that fumble as leaders. There are too many that demand attention, esteem – even veneration. And unfortunately, they get it and get away with it.
I am taking the author’s liberty here to tell a story of perseverance and belonging. This is the Body Helix journey – a paradox and paragon of its own.
If you’ve read my blogs, you know I was a tennis coach and a professional tennis player for many years. Over the years I became increasingly frustrated with the lack of support from sports companies in helping athletes prevent injuries. Every time one of my students got injured or I got hurt myself, I trusted the big, well-known, highly publicized sports corporations to develop and provide products to help athletes. I like to say these companies weren’t dropping the ball when it came to satisfying the need for these kinds of products, rather they weren’t even picking it up! Don’t get me wrong, I bought the highest quality shoes, racquets and other sports gear these big companies had to offer. When it came to injury prevention for athletes, these elite companies always let me down.
After years of trying sub-optimal compression/injury prevention products, my frustrations ballooned into anger. I was so fed up with the inadequacies of the sports industry that I decided to change the system. In the shadow of the behemoth sports conglomerates, I decided I would figure out a way to make a difference for athletes. I knew little about the compression gear/injury prevention business or running a sports products company. Sure, I was an accomplished coach and player, but that is a very different thing.
I set out to find the world’s finest material for my new product. This was a journey. Once I found the best that fabric science had to offer, it was time to create an unsurpassed compression product. I needed to do my research. I tested every possible product I could find on the market. And, I learned many ways how not to make my product.
Next in the plan, was to recruit friends to help me craft my products. Fortunately for me, Dr. Tom Parker, an avid tennis player, and a long-time friend saw my vision and thought it had potential. Dr. Bert Fields, a world-renown sports medicine physician, and top athlete, also saw potential in my product. Each step along the way I sought out people that were smarter than me, more experienced than me, and more qualified than me. I kept telling my story and my dream. Many people along the way offered to help. My professional friends lined up to do real-life product tests for me. My practice partners would work out with me on the court. Often we would play hard – and even harder—to test the products. We know that if you play your sport hard you are going to get hurt. It’s not ‘if’, it’s ‘when’ – and ‘how often’. Our products were tested, tried, and tested some more.
After trial, error, blood sweat, and tears – we had a company. We had the best compression in the world. Our products were better than those of any of the big corporations. Why? Because our goal and vision were different than that of a large profit-driven company. We knew what athletes wanted and what great compression gear needed to be. Our goal was never to be a billion-dollar company. It was straightforward from the beginning: To provide athletes with respect. To honor their efforts and their career dreams. To bring them the best compression gear they deserve.
I had more learning to do. I learned that you can have the most fabulous products, but if no one knows who you are you can’t survive. For me, it was (and still is) gut-wrenching to see companies put out smooth marketing bull-stories (new word) to take people’s money. All around me were companies that were unscrupulous and fraudulent using deceptive advertising – and making fortunes. It was disheartening.
I needed to figure out a way to reach people and tell them about our products. Our team knew that once people tried our products, they would love them and recommend them to their friends. Back to my playbook of figuring it out. I knew nothing about marketing, Facebook, Instagram, or other media. (I barely know much now.) Regardless, our team kept going… we kept moving through one obstacle after another. It became our motto and tagline. “Move Through It!” Genius!
Over a decade, Tom Parker and I have led something we knew nothing about. We are good at figuring things out as we go. And, we keep going and going. More importantly, we have a team with us and for us – an authentic, undisputable, cohesive caring team. We belong to team Body Helix – along with every customer. We move through it, together.
The “Alpha Paragon” – Watching the rising stars
After telling you about the Alpha Paradox – the dinosaurs of poor leaders that need to go away – I want to give you the good news about the Alpha Paragon. There are some rising stars out there, and what’s coming will be awesome. I think the Alpha Paradox leadership trends are ready to be turned upside down by the new guard, the next generation, the new paragon. I couldn’t be more delighted by the signs I am seeing for our future.
I conclude this blog with my belief in and hope for the Alpha Paragon – the future, the ideal. The next great leader is someone who takes care of the people in his/her charge. He/she will have a Spartan attitude and set that example. The leader’s ability to help team members on their journey to become “Alphas” is key in building trust and unity. The servant-leader will never stop learning and welcome challenges. These new leaders in business, society, and government will stand up for their beliefs, no matter the cost.
Over the past several weeks, I have recommended learning opportunities for you in the form of books, podcasts, Ted Talks, etc. Going forward, I will showcase more ‘new’ leaders and young professionals who are putting great things out into the world. Over time, these new inspirers will be growing their audiences and changing the tide of our future. Take a moment to review previous weeks’ blogs and my recommendations. You’ll be amazed at the talent waiting to be tapped.
I cannot close a blog about teams and leaders without again recognizing the amazingly dedicated group at Body Helix. These dedicated folks work non-stop to take care of athletes who come to us for help. Our company’s young professionals are leaders who are helping us find solutions to marketing/advertising needs and are bringing new ideas to help us get better. Tom and I seek to nurture the new “Alphas” on the rise.
Allow the Body Helix team the privilege to become part of your recovery crew. We are here for injured and recovering athletes when you need us. Thanks to all of you for helping us grow.
Move Through It!
“In life, all good things come hard, but wisdom is the hardest to come by.”
– Lucille Ball
“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty.”
– Mother Theresa
“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes
“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”
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