Story 18

Leading Yourself

“If you want to go fast, go alone.
If you want to go far, go together.”

-Bill George
Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

The hardest person you will ever lead is yourself. I glazed over those words as I sat in my final MBA class on leadership development. The assignment was defining what your leadership legacy will be. I had no idea…I did know that I was a young, hard charging worker bee checking off the boxes for the next promotion. I was in control, and all I needed was myself, continued determination, and hard work. The rest will take care of itself. 

That mentality can be a silent killer causing us to drift…and drift I have done for many years. Drift does not mean unsuccessful, lazy, not dependable, unfaithful, etc. To me it means unintentional. Am I being intentional with my time, talent, and treasures? Am I committed to be the best I can be each day? 

On May 13, 2017 I showed up in a parking lot with approximately 40 other men for the kickoff of F3 Toledo. What I thought would be just a good workout (and it was a serious beatdown) turned out to be so much more. 

For years, I have spent so much time and energy striving for success. In tough times, my natural tendency is to retreat with the thought that I can pull myself through it and overcome. It is a dangerous, slippery slope that causes times of high anxiety while feeling like I am “carrying the weight of the world” on my shoulders. I lose focus on relationships and leaning on people for help. I internalize everything. 

F3 has helped me see things a bit differently. It has challenged me physically beyond what I thought I was capable of, but more importantly, it has challenged me to see the interconnection and power of relationships in so many other aspects of life. I am not alone in this journey and share in the many challenges we face as men in the multiple roles we play. Each day I have the privilege to start my day with a group of men that will push me physically, mentally, and spiritually to be the best version of myself. I battle with myself every day…trying to walk the tightrope of life. I am a work in progress and perfectly imperfect. 

As a father of four, I hope my kids remember it all, but if there is just one memory I could etch into their hearts, it would be this. I want them to remember a man who was steady at the helm. Someone who gave them his best every day because not only are they entitled to that, but more importantly, they deserve it. A memory of a man like that just might come in handy someday, and I’m grateful for the F3 brothers that are pushing me to get there. 

So now it’s time to finish the assignment I started six years ago… What do I want my leadership legacy to be? There are many pages to still be written…

Matt “Ollie” Britt

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Movember 2019 Kickoff

Join the F3 Toledo Movember Team

The Movember Foundation has been raising awareness around men’s health issues since 2003. Over the years, they have helped raise nearly $1 billion dollars and funded more than 1,250 men’s health projects around the world.

This Movember, join the F3 Toledo Movember Team, as we join the cause and raise awareness and money to take on men’s health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. 

Here’s How You Can Get Involved:

Here are some things we are planning to do around F3 Toledo in support of this effort.

Clean Shave Welcome Party

On Saturday 11/2, join your fellow F3 Toledo Movember teammates for a shave down. Bring whatever tools you use to shave down, electric razor, straight razor, weed whacker, whatever. After the beatdown, shave that mug clean. Make sure to snap some photos for your Mo Space.

Border Battle Shave Off

This year, the big game happens to be the last day of Movember. I’m sure Michigan will get waxed. But you don’t have to. We will have a Border Battle Shave Off after the beatdown at all AOs. A weed wacker may be the only thing to trim the bush you’ve been growing for the last month. 

Battle of the Mo Bros

At the end of Movember, we’ll open the “polls” for the PAX to vote on the best and worst Mo’s for a small donation.

There may be other things that we do around the region during the course of the month to support the cause.

Does your employer gift match? Double your donation. Not sure? Check the Movember Foundation’s database of company’s that match gifts. You may need to scroll down to search.

If you have any questions, reach out to Geppetto or Ticket on GroupMe or in the gloom. Get after it. Aye!

Story 17

Getting More and More
in Return

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

I was very active in my youth. Participating in gymnastics, playing baseball, street hockey, basketball, and football with friends kept me very busy. High school wasn’t much different. I had stopped with gymnastics and picked up ice hockey. The conditioning for hockey as intense. I can say that I was in pretty good shape and active throughout high school. 

Moving into college was a little different. I was not getting exercise through sports but was “working out” with jobs. I was working at UPS loading trailers while attending school. Working two jobs and attending school, I was active but not working out or deepening my fellowship or faith. I was married and had a four-month-old son at graduation. 

Fast forward 10 years – I now have four sons and a “desk” job and was not getting much exercise. Sure, I was helping out coaching the boys in soccer and baseball getting “exercise” while out there but not enough. I heard about a men’s workout group that was coming to our area called F3 from one of my son’s soccer coaches who also attends the same church. 

At first, I blew it off thinking this doesn’t pique my interest. I justified it in my head as, “I’m too busy to add anything else in my life right now.” Well a month or so passed and F3 just had their first beatdown. My brother-in-law attended and was pleased with what F3 was all about and asked me to come out to a beatdown. After hearing the time of day of the workouts, I was even less interested! However, I set my alarm for my first one on a Saturday morning. 

It was at a local high school. I pulled in the lot and saw a lot of cars and guys standing in a circle. I don’t remember the exact number of guys there, but I’m pretty sure it was in the fifties. After that hour was up, I stood in the middle of the circle and proceeded to tell everyone a little about myself to get my F3 name. As I stated earlier, I was in gymnastics in my younger days and my brother-in-law proceeds to shout out, “he used to be a gymnast.” It was then that my nickname of “Mary Lou,” after the famous Mary Lou Retton, was given. At first, I was unsettled by the name, but I have since embraced it. For the first few months, I was only attending on Saturday mornings, and I wasn’t really getting anything out of it besides a really good workout once a week. 

I believe you get out what you put into something. I wasn’t putting in a lot of effort in F3 so wasn’t getting a lot out of it. As time went on, I started going a few times during the week and attending some rucks and participating in some 2nd and 3rd F’s. I was amazed what I was getting in return when I started to put more into this program. 

I now embrace the early morning alarm, even enough to ruck in the morning before the beat down. All three F’s are important to what this program stands for. It is enriching to embrace that we all come from different backgrounds and religions, but we can come together to better ourselves. I need the accountability to work out. It’s easy to tell yourself that you need to go to the gym and workout, but it’s easier to find reasons to end up not going. 

Once you make the decision to HC (hard commit) to a workout, you better go or you will get called out by your F3 brothers. Sure, I could go to the gym by myself, but now, after F3, I don’t want to. You come to realize that the guy next to you has gone through or is going through the exact same stuff as you. Everyone attended F3 or the first time for different reasons. We stay for the same – to become the best version of ourselves as we can. We push hard in the gloom, then push hard throughout the day to be the best fathers, husbands, brothers, and leaders we can be.

Kevin “Mary Lou” Kudro

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Story 16

Moving Forward with Purpose

Illustration by Vince “Pixar” Palko at AdToons

I have pretty much always been into “fitness” – from sports in school, to the military, to lifting during college. I started running shortly after my father passed away in 2013. I always told myself it was to clear my mind and give me some alone time to think through whatever was going on. Turns out, that really wasn’t the case.

I have always had friends and acquaintances – family friends, school friends, and work friends. Some felt like brothers, but through no fault of mine or theirs we all drifted from hanging out every day to the occasional text on birthdays and holidays.

I was raised in the Catholic faith, and later we moved to a non-denominational church, and eventually, I went my own way altogether. My “faith” consisted of the occasional prayer, discussions with my wife and her family, etc.

I was EH’d by Mickey and some other Toledo PAX during a 10K at Macqueen’s orchard, the last of a race series. I looked up F3 and thought it would be a cool way to work out, but I only went skin deep and then waited a couple weeks to post.

On October 23, I made my first f3 post at “the Gauntlet”. The workout was tough, but I also saw something I wasn’t expecting – a group of men busting their butts, working together, talking, laughing, busting balls – and right then I knew this was more than just a “cool workout”. I knew it was home.

As I continue to post, I continue to figure out what I was running from (Sad Clown Syndrome – and that is not a race you can win on your own), what had happened with my buddies (they were NOT big
enough grains), and what faith really means. I had discovered the “Problem”, and more importantly, I now have hope and faith that I can combat it. F3 has done more for me in these short, dark, cold months than I can hope to repay. The fellowship/brotherhood that can only be forged through suffering, celebrating, and praying together is irreplaceable. The simple act of sharing our hopes, fears, and prayers with no judgement and realizing how many of us share those same feelings and emotions is an almost indescribable feeling, but the best I can do is say it feels like a part of me that has been missing has now been replaced.

The impact goes beyond the AO’s and the COT (circle of trust) though – so much further beyond. At work and at home, so much of my thinking has been remapped towards acceleration that it is noticeable to those around me. My boss and co-workers, my wife and kids have all gone so far as to mention how much I have changed.

When you realize work isn’t your purpose, that your wife shouldn’t be your best friend (but something significantly more), and your kids are a part of your legacy so it is YOUR responsibility to show them how to become HIM’s… it’s like you are seeing the world in a whole new light. Time is a valuable and finite resource – we each only have what is allotted to us.

I used to slog my way through each day, only feeling the slightest bit of hope and manliness when I was grinding out a long run or lifting weights, but the feeling was fleeting. As soon as I returned home or to work, it was gone, baby gone.

The feeling of finding that missing purpose, of losing yourself in the gloom and being around other men who are equally finding that purpose and accelerating themselves is something every man should have in their life. Every day is now an opportunity to work towards that purpose, to improve myself or my relationships with my wife and children. To work towards leaving a legacy that serves them. It is not something to be afraid of, it is not something to pass up for a couple hours of sleep. Once you have that, you will never look at life the same.

I showed up on October 23rd looking for another “cool workout.” I left with a newfound sense of freedom, fellowship, and ultimately a new outlook on life in general.

Josh “Woodstock” Brown

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Story 15

Filling a Void

My name is Jonathan Burns; my F3 brothers know me by “Bourbon.” I’m not typically one to share my deep thoughts or emotions, but I am doing so here, in this medium, in the hopes that it might touch someone out there and help change their focus on life like F3 has done for me.

My name is Jonathan Burns; my F3 brothers know me by “Bourbon.” I’m not typically one to share my deep thoughts or emotions, but I am doing so here, in this medium, in the hopes that it might touch someone out there and help change their focus on life like F3 has done for me. 

About three years prior to joining F3, I relocated from Lexington, KY to Toledo, OH. There is the first part about F3 – your name. Get it? Bourbon = from KY and last name of Burns. OK, got that out of the way. I had lived in KY my whole life and in Lexington for the last 15 years of my life. I moved to a city where my wife and her family had roots, but I had none. I had made some friends through church, work, and my neighborhood. But not many that were deep relationships. You know, the ones that the other man isn’t afraid to call you out if he sees you going down a bad path. Not afraid to push you when you need a kick in the arse. I missed that. I needed that. I would not admit it. I may not have even known it. Nevertheless, I needed that. 

Going into F3, fitness was not a major concern. I am not the most fit person by any means, but I can hold my own. I regularly lifted in a nice warm gym and ran outside often. One day my workout buddy mentioned F3. I blew it off. I didn’t need that to stay fit; I had my comfortable routine. He kept at me and kept at me (EH’ing me as I have come to learn). Thanks Tots! So finally, one Saturday, I showed up. 

That first Saturday in early September was great. I got in a different workout than normal and met a few new guys who called each other crazy names. It was fun to do something different than my norm. I told myself that I’d make the Saturday workout a norm but keep my regular routine during the week. I ended up coming back the following Monday. It was a holiday and the gym was closed – might as well. It was The MURPH. Yes! I loved pushing myself with The Murph.

But wait, it was so much more than that. The Murph was fun. Finishing was fun. Cheering on the other guys and motivating others (including me) was the best. I didn’t give a rip how I did. Something in me switched on. I wanted to push others. I wanted to push myself to get better. And just like that I was hooked. 

Now I show up regularly. Usually five times a week. I push myself to get better. I push others to get better. They push me to get better. I share my life with my F3 brothers. They share theirs with me. We are there for each other in happy and sad times. It is a strong bond that will last for as long as you are willing to invest in yourself and others. My life has truly been changed by this group; it fills a void I didn’t know I had.

It is difficult to put into words what F3 means to me. But I will sum it up with this: I am supposed to be a loner. Now I would do almost anything for these guys I consider brothers in life. The fellowship and camaraderie is priceless. Watching yourself and your new brothers grow physically AND mentally is life changing. I know I can ask for help and have 20 guys ready to jump in at a moment’s notice. You can’t put a price on that. No gym membership or diet will give you that. This is free. This is F3. 

Jonathan “Bourbon” Burns

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