Yoga is for Everybody

Yes. Yoga is for everybody. This post might be more about yoga than leadership, but it all blends together, I promise!

I’ve only been to a handful of yoga classes, but I’ve incorporated a few poses and stretches into my routine since summer of 2014. Some people seem surprised when they hear that I’m beginning to practice yoga, and I don’t blame them. I admit that I was a yoga skeptic and will tell you that I never thought I would do it. When urged to try I would usually respond with something like, “ehhh, it’s just not for me.” Over the past few months I’ve learned what yoga actually is and have developed an appreciation for it. That leads me to the inspiration for this post.

My wife, Allison, recently became a registered yoga teacher (RYT 200). The amount of training involved came as a surprise to me. (If you think training simply involves doing a lot of yoga, you’re wrong.) It’s more than just asanas and mats. Her training involved learning anatomy and physiology, theories and methodologies, assists and modifications, leadership and instruction and I’m sure it included plenty of other detail of which I’m unaware. She attended training at Yoga Strong in Canton, Ohio every other Thursday, Saturday and Sunday for four and a half months. She knew up front that it would be a large commitment, but she also knew exactly what she wanted.

Graduates of the first Yoga Teacher Training at Yoga Strong in Canton, Ohio.

Allison (bottom right) with her fellow RYT graduates.

The real inspiration comes from Allison finding something that she’s passionate about, then dedicating her time and resources to use that passion to help others. That’s a leadership characteristic that I don’t see too often. It goes beyond doing something for your own benefit by displaying pure selflessness. The first thing she taught me was that yoga is for everybody. Runners, cyclists, weight-lifters, tennis players, moms and dads, grandparents and children. People with anxiety, stress, frequent headaches, hangovers, injuries, hypertension and diabetes. It doesn’t matter what your condition is (even perfectly healthy), yoga can benefit you in multiple ways. One reason I enjoy going to yoga classes is because it gives me the chance to completely disconnect with the outside world and to focus purely on myself.

Here is a great beginner video that you can do on your own.

 

I have two challenges for you.

  1. Find something that you’re passionate about and use that passion to help others.
  2. Give yoga a chance. I’m confident you’ll see benefits just as I did. Yoga is for everybody.

Are you already using your passion to help others? If so, let me know by leaving a comment below!

Influenced : To be or not to be?

 

I recently had the opportunity to take part in a survey being conducted by a gentleman working on his Master’s thesis. To put it simply, the topic of the survey and his study was influence.

During the survey I was asked many thought-provoking questions and was challenged to think about influence in ways that I hadn’t thought about it before. I walked away enlightened and possibly with a better understanding of how I am (and have been) influenced.

I think it’s extremely important for you to understand how you’re influenced, which is why I want to share three areas of influence that you should be thinking about, along with examples of how you might be influenced in each area.

 

  1. Thoughts/Feelings
  • Be it politics, religion or your personal history, the way you think and feel has a specific foundation. What are the building blocks of that foundation? What created your method of thinking? Or why is it you feel so strongly about certain subjects?

 

  1. Decisions
  • Have you seen a really good commercial lately? Have you accepted somebody’s suggestion about a new restaurant? Countless factors shape the way we make decisions. Consumer-based decisions are easy to point out, but decisions, travel, time management or group association are also highly influenced.

 

  1. Behaviors
  • Have you ever caught yourself using the latest trending word or phrase? Did you visit a local hot spot just because a celebrity endorsed it? Someone or something influences almost everything we do. It’s pretty tough to be original these days. Think about what you’re currently doing and why you’re doing it. You’re obviously reading this blog post because I wrote it, right?

 

By now you’ve caught on that each of these areas of influence are entwined together. Think about the next decision you have to make about what you’re going to do next. See how it works?

I can still hear my mom saying, “You can’t hang out with those older boys. They’re bad influences.” Did your parents ever say something like that? My mom said that because knowing what influences make an impact on you is part of being a responsible adult. Be sure to take some time to think about what has influenced you lately, or even how you might influence somebody else.

2014: That’s a wrap, people!

If you’re reading this, then you already know. You’ve made it another year! Great job! If you think that was just a cheesy hook to get you to read this post, you’re right. But keep reading. You’re already here!

As we quickly transition into 2015, I want to encourage you to not only look forward to the New Year, but to look back on your accomplishments of the previous year. Lately, I’ve been sharing my strong belief of the importance of a personal bucket list with anyone who is willing to listen. I love the feeling of accomplishment I get when I cross goals off of my list.

What about you? Yes, you made it another year, but what else did you do? Or even, what didn’t you do? Accomplishments don’t always have to be measured by what you do. Maybe at the start of 2014 you told yourself that you wouldn’t gain any weight over the course of the year, instead of the common “I will lose weight” goal. If you’ve maintained a healthy weight, congrats! Get the idea? It’s great to celebrate the large victories, but don’t overlook the many little wins over the year that have helped you get to where you are today, even if it means not taking a step backwards.

My wife and I had a great year. If I had to give 2014 a theme it would be “growth.” We each had victories of our own but we also did a lot together, too. Here are some highlights from our 2014:

 

  1. I spoke at my company’s first ever TEDx event, TEDxCardinalHealth.
  2. We celebrated 2 years of marriage.
  3. Allison created her photography business. (Check out her Facebook and Pixieset pages!)
  4. We both committed to pursuing our goals and passions. Love what you do, right?
  5. Allison pursued a yoga teacher certification and started teaching.
  6. We have set goals for 2015!

 

I genuinely hope you had an excellent year. Take a minute to yourself to reflect on your victories and wins. Like I mentioned, you’re here! That tells me that you’ve made some good decisions (or at least didn’t make bad decisions?) Pat yourself on the back and get ready to do it again!

Thanks for reading in 2014 and stay tuned for what’s to come in 2015!

Best wishes!

Leader Spotlight: Bill Crawford, Team Mojo Foundation

If asked to describe the city of East Liverpool, Ohio, many people would likely use adjectives such as gross, empty, broken and sad. Well, compared to the booming pottery town that the city once was, those words aren’t far from the truth. Although the town and the people in it might be hurting, there is an organization working diligently to spread love and hope, specifically to the area youth.

Bill Crawford, founder and Executive Director of Team Mojo Foundation (TMF), was kind enough to share details of how his organization was created and how it has benefited the community.

TMF Logo
 

Q: In a nutshell, what is TMF?

A: Team Mojo Foundation is a 501c3 (IRS-recognized tax-exempt) nonprofit public charity registered in good standing with the State of Ohio, operating in the local tri-state area of Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Our mission is to provide financial assistance to underprivileged K-12 aged children, to help them participate in events and activities that they may otherwise miss out on without our help.

 

Q: Where did the idea for TMF come from?

A: Nearly ten years ago both my sons were attending a youth basketball camp at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. The camp was great in that the coaches promoted character, discipline, responsibility and other positive traits, as well as basketball, and it was a weeklong overnight camp, a first for a lot of the kids. As I sat in the stands one evening watching the games I thought of all the kids who could really benefit from the camp but could never have the chance to participate due to the expense, as well as the logistics of getting there. That was when I had the epiphany to start a foundation that could “Help Kids Shine.”

 

Q: How did you know when you were ready for the next step (e.g., filing for tax-exempt status, recruiting board members, etc.)?

A: First, I waited; days, weeks. Just like when you have that idea to “build a better mousetrap”, I thought maybe this idea would wear off. But it didn’t, because there was no downside, it just made sense. Then I confided in some friends and associates, for feedback, mostly folks who had been involved in my “Team Mojo Army” movement- other people with similar interests who networked through physical fitness activities like my Spinning class at the local YMCA, cycling, running, etc. Team Mojo Foundation evolved from that Team Mojo Army concept that was centered on “positive energy” and “good karma.”

Bill with all 74 pages of the IRS 501c3 application.

Bill with all 74 pages of the IRS 501c3 application.

Q: What was the most challenging part of bringing TMF to life and how did you overcome it?

A: Money. Funding. Expenses. The IRS fee alone for a 501c3 was $850. So, like most startups, I asked for help from friends, family and other mojos. We started small, but when we achieved 501c3 status we were able to go for bigger and better grants and funding. The grants are out there, it just takes time and energy to research them and write them/apply for them. Fast-forward to today, the biggest challenge is finding time. We are 100% volunteer and I do all the busywork, it’s a huge challenge, but worth it.

 

Q: What qualities were you looking for when establishing your Board of Directors?

A: Good character, positive attitudes, folks who were selfless and genuinely interested in our mission of helping kids experience more.

The extremely talented TMF Board of Directors.

The extremely talented TMF Board of Directors.

Q: What factors do you think have helped TMF succeed?

A: Awareness first and foremost. It has taken several years to build up a presence in the community that makes people think of Team Mojo Foundation when a situation arises where a child needs assistance. Our network of teachers, coaches, community leaders, clergy, volunteers and other civic organizations has also helped us reach out to those in need.

 

Q: What types of events has TMF held so far?

A: We have done 5K runs/walks, dodge ball tournaments, corn hole tournaments, a church basketball league, farm animal exhibits, music concerts, hot dog sales, trunk-or-treat and more. Recently we’ve shifted our focus to “capital campaign” type of fundraising, however, as events tend to involve a tremendous amount of planning and preparation, with little financial gain.

 

TMF Music

TMF Farm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Q: How much support, financial and/or other, has TMF given back to the community?

A: Since 2010 we have provided over $80,000 in individual assistance to 1,500+ local children. In addition, we have invested $30,500 in the Newell (West Virginia) community by way of grants awarded through the East Liverpool Fawcett Community Foundation in the name of late Bob & Carolyn Wells, aimed at benefiting the children of Newell.

 

Q: Any future plans for TMF?

A: We’re hoping our “winter project” is a capital campaign to add to our funds that provide our daily individual assistance, since this is difficult to achieve through grants. We’d like to expand our coverage area but as a 100% volunteer organization it just isn’t feasible at this time.

 

Q:  Why did you choose the word “mojo?”

A: In June 2004, some friends (one of which is now a TMF VP) and I competed in a 4-man team adventure race in central Ohio.  At the registration table, they needed a team name, and I just came up with Team Mojo. We ended up coming in 1st in the race, and the name stuck, we used it for the “Team Mojo Army” movement, and later Team Mojo Foundation. Contrary to popular belief, mojo is not an acronym. It simply means positive energy, charm, magic or good karma, so it applies to our mission statement.

mo·jo

noun \ˈmō-(ˌ)jō\

: a power that may seem magical and that allows someone to be very effective, successful, etc.

 

Team Mojo Foundation definitely stands out as a leader in a community that needs leaders. Many hours of work and planning were spent creating the organization, and many hours of work and planning are being spent to help it succeed.

If you would like to donate to Team Mojo Foundation, please click here!

I am a man. I am a feminist.

This post will be unlike any other that I’ve written. To be more specific, this will be the first time that I weigh in on a national global issue.

GENDER EQUALITY

I’m going to get straight to the point: I respect women. Women are bold, brave and beautiful. They are strong, swift and smart. They construct bridges, fight wars, run companies, and fly planes and own business. They invent, advise, create, manage, build, guide, consult, design, write and sell. The list goes on and on. If it exists, a woman does it. That’s why I find myself perplexed by the idea that we as a people are battling with the issue of gender equality (or inequality, if you will).

My next sentence will come off as a cliché, but I can’t speak anything more truthful. If it weren’t for a woman, I wouldn’t be here. DUH, I WAS BORN, RIGHT? No. What I mean is many of the most important people in my life are women. Let me start from the beginning.

I’m fortunate enough to have grown up surrounded by women. Although there were some years when I was the annoying little brother, I consider myself very close to both of my big sisters. But while growing up, a point came when they were hardly bigger, just older. Whether they realized it or not, I quickly became “big” brother. The brother that wanted to be there when they needed help, the brother that would listen to their problems, and the brother that would stand up to any man that dared to hurt them.

Standing up for and supporting women is a characteristic that taught to me at an early age. I believe my mom is to thank for that. My mom taught me how to treat people. She guided me along the right path and made me realize early on that women have strength unlike any other; the strength to make tough decisions when other people are counting on you, the strength to provide and work and support yourself. She showed me that women have the strength to conquer fear and pain, not knowing what the future might bring.

That’s her. My mom.

I guess I’m among the group of lucky men that learned the value of women early on in life. Now, I’m sharing my life with an amazing woman. My wife inspires and supports me, and I try to do the same for her. She works hard to improve herself, whether through yoga or her photography business. She impresses me every single day, and I would defend her and shame any man that considers her unequal.

It’s clear that major gender issues plague this country, but I would like to address the current issue in the media about Emma Watson being threatened with nude images for her UN Goodwill Ambassador speech. Disgusting. That sums it up. I mean, to threaten a young woman that’s standing up for a movement that if successful can only make the world a better place? Come on, now. We can be better humans than that. Even though this has turned out to be a hoax, this type of behavior in unacceptable and should not be tolerated. Limiting the opportunities available to women accomplishes nothing. If we continue to do it, we will continue to miss out on ideas, creativity and advancements that women are currently fighting to contribute. We need to move on as one.

As a man, I almost feel the need to defend myself. I do not want to be grouped with other men that are willing to go beyond the deepest depths of hell to damage a woman’s reputation or image. But I feel like defending myself isn’t the best course of action. Instead, I promise to defend women. I promise to never use any sort of leverage to threaten or harm a woman. I promise to never assume a woman can’t do a job because she’s not a man. I promise to treat women equally as I would like to be treated. And I promise to stand up for women any time a fellow man decides to consider a woman as anything less than equal. If my feelings and actions make me a feminist, then I accept the title.

I'm committed. Are you?

I’m committed. Are you?

If you haven’t seen Emma’s speech, watch it now. She offers insight and statistics about men and women that are eye-opening and (should be) life changing. I’m proud that a fellow millennial is brave enough to use her platform for the greater good. She is definitely a leader worth following.

I’ve read over and over again that to succeed you need to be willing to change. Now is a good time to change. In Emma’s speech, she formally invites both men and woman to actively participate in the issue at hand. Well, Miss Watson, I accept your invitation. Join me by visiting www.heforshe.org and committing to gender equality.

Leadership Skills for Cyclists

What do you get when you combine six men, bicycles and 50+ miles of bike trail? A weekend full of smooth riding, plenty of laughs and yes, LEADERSHIP!

photo 1

I recently went on an overnight bike trip with five other gentlemen from my hometown. The weekend started on Friday evening when we met in Xenia, Ohio for dinner. We found ourselves at Nick’s Restaurant, where it also happened to be karaoke night! Although nobody in my group participated, we enjoyed listening to the other brave souls try their best at popular (and some unpopular) songs.

10526063_10202619536760941_764294481933767493_n


On Saturday morning we departed for our destination, Mariemont, Ohio, a town just four miles from Cincinnati. We spent the night at the Mariemont Inn (Best Western Premier), which turned out to be one of the neatest hotels I’ve ever stayed in (be sure to watch the bonus video at the bottom)! After a satisfying dinner at Dilly and some much-needed rest, we returned back to Xenia on Sunday.

Both days of riding were completed safely, and that’s not by chance. The first few miles of riding were pretty slow as we warmed up on Saturday, but as the day went on and we put more trail behind us, it was easy to see how leadership skills are used while riding in a group!

  1. Communication – Just as good leaders communicate to their team, you must constantly be ready to communicate what your next move is in order to safely ride in a group and/or on a trail with other people. We ended up sharing the trail with a relay event for runners that stretched from Cincinnati to Dayton. The rider in the front would call out “runner up” to inform the others in the group. Others calls were used to inform people that we were passing, or to signal if it was safe to proceed through a road crossing.
  2. Teamwork – Where you position yourself in the group is extremely important for the safety of the other riders. It’s nice to ride close to others for conversational purposes, but it can also be unsafe. Each member of my group was sure not to ride too closely behind another. This made it safer for the rider in front to slow down if needed and also, if riding two abreast, gave riders a chance to move over for oncoming traffic. This type of teamwork is crucial for the prevention crashes!
  3. Expertise – Different leaders can have different skill sets. If you’re going to participate in a sport such as cycling, it helps to know a thing or two about the bike you’re riding. Several members of my group were able to share different kinds of information. For instance, one rider expressed to another that the height of his bike seat was unsafe, which could cause unnecessary strain or injury while a different rider was able to make quick mechanical adjustments to a bike to correct shifting errors.

As the ride came to a close on Sunday, I had ridden nearly 150 miles. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or new to the sport, I strongly suggest venturing to Xenia, Ohio to ride the many trails the town has to offer.

I’m already looking forward to next year’s bike trip. I wonder where we’ll go?

10645011_10102730432423564_2094076318787565078_n

FTL is back!

I started this blog nearly one year ago with the intention of sharing leadership insights and other related information to readers. I stated in my first post that I’m not an expert on the subject, but somewhere along the way I began pressuring myself into coming up with topics and posts that were probably beyond my skill level.

After taking some time off from writing I now realize what I need to do. I’m going back to the basics. Future posts will be more personal and simple. I’ll share information and insights that I gain from time to time. I’ll share stories that highlight leadership, communication or just “how to be a good person” situations. And finally, I’ll continue to post “Leader Spotlights” because I still believe that great people deserve some recognition.

I want to thank everyone who has subscribed to Follow that Leader, anyone who has clicked on my social media posts and anyone who has shown any bit of support whatsoever.

Stop back on Tuesday when I’ll tell you how leadership and communication were tied into a 130+ mile bike trip I recently took!

Have a great day!

RyanAvery.com

Keeping You Motivated

Project Light to Life

A bucket list blog: exploring happiness, growth, and the world.

Blanchard LeaderChat

A Forum to Discuss Leadership and Management Issues

Follow that Leader

A blog dedicated to all things leadership

LeadToday

Leadership - Motivation - Sales - Fun

Linked 2 Leadership

The L2L Blogazine covers Leadership Development, Organizational Health, and Personal & Professional Growth. "We help professionals Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders!"™

How We Lead

Conversations on Leadership with Ken Blanchard

Pretty In Paisley- Allison Ewing

One girl's obsession with all things Vera Bradley

Two Minutes for Hooking

What gets me hooked on hockey

The John Maxwell Company

A blog dedicated to all things leadership

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers

%d bloggers like this: