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Leadership and "Breadtruck Monday"

Life is hard

Perhaps you’ve seen the bumper sticker: “Life is hard and then you die.”  While a rather morbid philosophical reflection on life, the point of the saying, I suspect, is supposed to be a wry and humorous acknowledgement that you can’t expect things to always be easy. I’m not a fan of pessimistic bumper stickers, but I do think there is a leadership corollary.

Leadership is hard.  Just plain hard.  And then hard again the next time.  Days and weeks and months go by, and it remains hard.  At times, it is exhausting.  It costs money.  It strains relationships.  It wears you out.

Two of my closest friends are both leaders of significant influence.  Ron Sciarro and Paul Preston are the owners and managing partners of Aqua-Tots, the largest swim school franchise network in the world.  With locations from Southeast Asia to Europe and the Middle East, their leadership has a global span.  With scores and scores of schools in the US, Canada and Mexico, their influence is felt by thousands of franchisees, employees and customers.

In addition to being good friends with Ron and Paul, I get the privilege of their leadership.  My wife and I are Aqua-Tots franchisees: we own several of their franchise swim schools, and many of the leadership lessons I’ve learned in the past have come from owning and managing our own teams and facilities.

Leadership is hard

Ron and Paul have a phrase, “Bread Truck Monday” that is their perspective on how hard leadership can be.   Here’s what Bread Truck Monday is all about for each of them: most weeks, both Ron and Paul would say leading a diverse, global organization is hard.  Exhausting hard.  People hard. Organization hard. Vendor hard. Customer hard. Money hard. By the time they get to Friday, there are weeks they’ve had enough. So, on any given Friday afternoon, one of them will poke his head in the other’s office and say he is thinking about quitting.  He is thinking about giving up.  Throwing in the shoe. Cashing in and checking out. He is thinking about doing something different. He is thinking about “Bread Truck Monday.”

A Simple Little Business

He is thinking of starting a simple little business.  He is going to get a simple bread oven. He is going to bake aromatic, flavorful bread and simply deliver it on Mondays to a select group of happy customers.  It will be simple.  It will be easy.  It will be enjoyable. “Bread Truck Monday.” His route will be over by noon, everyone will love their bread, and he will get to go through his day with a smile on his face.

Leader – I suspect you have your own version of “Bread Truck Monday.”  I know I do.  Mine involves sitting in my home office or at my favorite coffee shop on Lake Austin and writing the day away.  It involves people lining up at the local book store to buy my most recent release.  It includes multiple best-sellers and adoring followers who wait for my next release full of profound leadership insights.  Probably not realistic, but sometimes I think I can smell the aroma of it.

Ron and Paul told me they get to Fridays often and wish for “Bread Truck Monday.”  Then they go home, they recharge their batteries, they remember what they think they are supposed to be doing, and they show back up on Monday to lead-when-leadership-is-hard.

I hope I can do the same.  I hope you can as well.