Lessons Learned from Leading a Triathlon Club

In between 2016 and July/August 2019 I acted as the volunteer president of my local triathlon club.

Now that I have passed the management baton onto the next leader I wish to share a few of the lessons that I discovered in this job.

I hope you are not anticipating any kind of deep expose into the within this tri club since that’s not what this will be.
This is just sort of a wrap-up, reflection sort of piece. It might have more worth to me than a reader however it’s my site so here goes.

I’m sharing a few of the ENJOYABLE lessons I found out since there were a great deal of excellent things that I got an opportunity to discover clubs and people and obviously, triathlon. Now that I have actually written it all out I can see that these lessons are really in fact about me and not a lot the club.

If you are a long time reader of my blog site this might also provide you a peek into the instructions that this has actually pointed me and where I myself am headed. If and when you figure that out provide me a call and let me know due to the fact that I’m not really sure.

Simply joking. That was a joke.

The super quick backstory
I didn’t develop Team Hammerheads. It might be one of the earliest and longest running triathlon clubs in the United States. Founded in 1988 by buddies in Miami it was formed as a spin-off of the Miami Running Club. Type of like triathlon which in the United States is reported to have grown from inside the San Diego Track Club in the 1970s.

I seem like Team Hammerheads is sort of a unicorn amongst triathlon clubs nowadays. Perhaps this is an incorrect impression but I see a great deal of brand-clubs and coach clubs and few simply come as you are clubs.

I think this subscription design was an extremely typical model for running and triathlon clubs in the 1980s and earlier. I believe they designed it after the Miami Runners Club and possibly St. Pete Maddogs. The subscription charge is small. It is not a training group. Completely non-profit and volunteer run. It has no main formal training groups and no official group races and it produces no racing events. In Miami we have more races than we can shake a stick at. We are extremely lucky. What does Team Hammerheads do? That’s a great question. It offers casual show and go training on a weekly basis and month-to-month social educational occasions.

Group Hammerheads has a lot of history and tradition and not a lot of guidelines. I wasn’t chosen, I didn’t campaign or sit down and believe to myself hey I wish to be in charge. Nope. The individual who served before me really wanted to step down and I was asked to step up. I said no about 20 times and finally when they said, pretty please with a cherry on the top I said, all right fine. The club had been a vital part of my triathlon journey and I believed that if I might help I would enjoy to do what I could.

I naively thought that it would be something that I could do in a couple of hours a week. I likewise believed that I would deal with the most pressing concern and then hand it off to the next individual who I in fact thought was much more invested in the group.

Regard and generosity first and constantly.
I attempt to be a respectful person. I do not proclaim excellence in this.

I like when individuals are respectful to me therefore I do my finest to be considerate of others. Team Hammerheads was the most varied group I had ever had the opportunity to lead. I found out a lot from this experience. I did my finest to begin always with compassion.

In this role I discovered that compassion doesn’t always mean saying yes. There were a lot of things I said no to throughout the years because there were things that people would ask us to do that we were not at all able to in fact do.

In those scenarios I would simply say, “I’m sorry we don’t do that.” If I knew of someone or another group who might help I ‘d send them there. Or I simply needed to say, no. It’s not fun to say no however I got better with practice.

A great deal of times no sounds like this, “that’s an excellent concept you need to do that.”

Addition … constantly
People are pack animals. I believe it’s instinctual to group up. It might even be instinctual to attempt to protect that group … although I do not actually understand. I do understand that I see that pattern of larger groups breaking down in to smaller groups over and over in my life. The motion picture “Mean Ladies” comes to mind.

As a leader of a community triathlon club I did my finest to be inclusive of all kinds of individuals. Inclusivity is actually important to me. I truly do love all sort of people. Except jerks. That’s my exception.

One reason this was considerable to me is that I remember being afraid to appear to basically all the activities in a group setting when I began triathlon. It is super frightening stuff. I did what I could to attempt and be welcoming to everyone.

Prior to altering anything take the time to discover why it is the way it is
I learned this as a young and rather potentially annoying team leader in my 20s. I would see a problem and instantly act to alter the entire thing to make the option how I saw that it needs to be. I don’t remember who gave it to me … maybe a colleague and perhaps my mother however the book was 3 Cups of Tea.

One lesson of the book is that prior to you make a modification sit down and have 3 cups of tea with the individual you are asking to do something. I do not in fact drink tea. The way I interpret this is that it’s super crucial to be familiar with the people who are doing things and why they are doing them before you say, “oh well … that’s wrong. Let’s alter it!”

This lesson was never ever more vital than when leading volunteers.

Hammerheads already had a culture and a way of doing things when I took over. Some individuals were extremely happy and others weren’t and boy did they let me understand. I would guess that this is a normal changeover tradition.

I once had an individual inform me, “I don’t mean to tell you how you must run the club, but …” they then went on to list how they believed I must run the club.

I made notes whenever individuals stated something needed to be altered and after that I tried to hang out with the team that was included and find out as much as I might about what was presently going on. I made a lot of call that began with, “can you inform me how we presently do this?” The next question might be, “do you think it works or is there a better way that I can help you with?”

Before I made changes I tried to truly understand why and how we were doing things and whether it was working for anybody and if not why not. Then I attempted to enhance the important things that were working instead of just tearing things down.

I did actually make changes. New subscription management software, brand-new team tee shirts, brand-new website eventually, new sponsorship structure, new visors, new hats.

A local race director told me that for a few months he was sure I was going to be tossed out on my ear because I changed so lots of things so quick. They let me stay which I’m extremely happy for because I loved the function.

In the end I tried to add brand-new while keeping the old things. Balance. Sort of.

I likewise did a great deal of thanking volunteers because the whole group was volunteers.

It’s a good thing to do. Seriously, thank people today. Thank them honestly and from your heart and see what happens.

While I am at it for the Hammerheads who read this. Thank you for letting me remain in your service. I enjoyed it and I enjoy to be back to being a member.

Leadership of a membership group is to be in service to the subscription
Before this I had never lead a volunteer-only group. I had belonged of a leadership group for volunteer group but not “in charge.”

I have actually remained in a number of management roles and among my directing principles is that leadership hardly ever works when it is exclusively about the leader. In this case I rapidly chose that this function was not about me AT ALL. What’s more it needed to be very clear that I wasn’t setting things up so that I personally would benefit.

To lead an all volunteer community subscription group I believe the advantage constantly needs to be apparent to the members themselves … directly.

Whenever we attempted to do something that didn’t benefit the members it TUMBLED.

I really quickly learned that once in awhile when someone would say, the club should buy this. What they mean is in some cases, “I desire this for myself and if you buy it for the club then that makes it simpler for me.” Sometimes it aligns with the group wants and other times it doesn’t.

I need to admit that I learned this through mistakes and I’m simply fortunate that it exercised alright in the end. We made some purchases and planned some events in the beginning that didn’t appear to catch on and this is I believe why that happened.

To handle this I began to try to filter things through the lens of “who does this advantage?” When the response was “the membership” that was an excellent indication.

When things weren’t working I would do this in reverse to try to figure out the problem. This consists of subscriptions when people weren’t signing up I had to think about that it was due to the fact that what we provided may be due to the fact that individuals didn’t desire what we were offering.

This lesson was necessary to me as an individual possibly more than the club. I had to find out to not say yes just to make individuals happy. I also needed to strive on not taking things personally when it was about the club. I use these ability everyday now. Who gains from this decision? Everybody in my life is much better off from it.

People are more likely to follow you if you are going where they want to go.
Keep in mind that line from the baseball motion picture “if you build it they will come?”

Well, I would say that’s truly only real if you build something that people desire and you put it in a location where people do wish to go or a minimum of where they want to go.

Group Hammerheads is an all volunteer triathlon club. Seriously not a single thing.

If I prepared a bike flight that began far from your home and remained in an area you hated … you probably simply would not go. If I posted a meeting and the traffic looked bad … again you might simply state home.

I was President however I could have simply stopped at any time. The members didn’t have to do anything that we prepared unless they wished to. If I arranged conferences where there was no parking they didn’t come. If I moved the start of the bike ride they didn’t go.

The only method to have success was to develop activities that the members really did actually want to carry out in locations that they wanted to be and try to make them as enjoyable as possible.

This held true of working with volunteers on the leadership group and in the club overall. I had to find out methods to make the volunteering opportunities things individuals wanted to assist with. Or choose if I wanted to do it myself. That’s a substantial difference from dealing with workers who have a built-in inspiration.

That’s a substantial lesson and it operates in a bunch of different locations not just triathlon clubs.

As I read this back now these lessons all actually seem to be one single lesson. Is that weird?

Take nothing personally … actually absolutely nothing, the great, the bad, the weather … nothing.
I wish I might say I was good at this point but this is something that I regularly make every effort to improve upon.

It’s a huge club– there was constantly something going on and I dealt with it the best I could. Often with much better outcomes than others.

There were plenty of days where I would say over and over– it’s not about me, don’t take this personally over and over. I would remind myself that I wasn’t paid and it’s simply a tri club. More than when my partner would say, “attempt not to care a lot about this … it isn’t yours.”

I had many chances to discover this lesson and I would like to state that I’ll never ever have to go through it again but we’ll see.

These lessons are all quite easy however the next one that snuck up on me.

Every person’s journey is equally excellent
I signed up with Group Hammerheads years back as a beginner triathlete and the factor I joined was to lease the bike box for an upcoming Olympic triathlon and to have a group to swim with in the ocean.

When I stepped in to the role of President I was getting ready to train for 2 Ironman races. Almost my entire focus was on long training. The membership quickly called me on this since it actually wasn’t what they wished to do.

Team Hammerheads is a huge group. Just a couple of members choose the long Ironman races. It was important to create an area for everyone to take pleasure in or else there was no factor for them to join.

Over these almost 3 years I had the possibility to watch and assist as lots of new members handled their own personal difficulties. I spoke to practically every new member and heard who they were and what they wished to do. I talked with individuals who were still in the group however didn’t race.

I learned up close that each person has their own difficulties and achievements. One person’s mile run is simply as crucial as another persons 5k or century ride or Ironman.

I want to state that I understood that prior to I served in this role however I believe I discovered it more here. I’m appreciative for the opportunity to have found out that due to the fact that I think I’m a much better person, leader and coach for understanding that.

Why it was time to step aside
There was no official process for altering leaders. I tried to set one up and it didn’t stick so ideally the next leader will have more luck. They didn’t believe they were totally prepared but you’re never totally ready and it’s always much easier to be Second in control than in charge so I simply said … IT’s TIME.

I knew that I desired to go back to focusing on my podcast, my training and this blog site. Where my thoughts had actually been laser focused on all things Hammerheads I began to wander and really wanted to do some other things.

That’s it. It’s as easy as that. I know it’s dull however in some cases boring is refreshing.

My hopes and dreams for my tri club
I have passed the management baton for my club to the next round of leaders. I am not-so-secretly truly stinking happy with the team I built that is taking over. They truly are great. Their lessons and their objectives will be different than mine and I can not wait to see what great things they achieve.

… I look forward to going back to being a member of the club.

Can somebody get me a raffle ticket?

This article was written by admin