Lessons in Leadership from a Marine turned Strength Coach
My name is George Kalantzis, and I am the newest member of the Cressey Sports Performance team. Most CSP clients know me as the former intern who dressed in fatigues and face paint for my coaching responsibilities this past Halloween, but I am now officially the head group fitness instructor overseeing the bootcamp programs here at the facility.
As I sit and write this, I can’t believe the many twists and turns my career has taken in recent years. In the not-too-distant past, I found myself traveling to exotic countries with my Fiancé and on the path to becoming an air traffic controller. Not long before that, I was busy playing America’s superhero as an active United States Marine. I’ve learned a lifetime worth of lessons in just the last handful of years, and expect to continue to do so moving forward at CSP.
One of the most valuable parts of the week here at the facility is the weekly staff in-service, which takes place every Wednesday morning prior to clients arriving. This morning we took a step away from the usual assessment/programming/exercise science material and covered the ins and outs of operating this strength and conditioning business from the perspectives of Pete and Eric.
While listening to these guys field questions about where CSP is at today, and how they got to this point, I couldn’t help but think about past leaders I’ve had in the Marine Corps. Each and every one of them possessed leadership traits that have effectively led countless Marines to face fear and succeed in some of the toughest moments one could imagine.
Leadership traits I’ve seen overlap between my military and CSP experiences…
Justice: Life at CSP is not as easy as it looks. It has taken 7 plus years for Eric and the gang to build brand awareness and be on top. They will be the first to admit that it was not an easy task. Having a set system in place helps restore order and deliver fantastic results.
Judgment: Making tough decisions are never easy! Even the most sophisticated will fail if bad judgment is used. By taking on positions of responsibility, going through the appropriate steps and learning from mistakes can you only become better at making decisions.
Dependability: CSP family means family! I interned last year and was relatively new to the industry. In the time since my internship, I have been working as a personal trainer, where I’ve encountered new and unfamiliar scenarios on a daily basis. No matter what, I’ve been able to count on the guys at CSP. No question has gone unanswered and I always truly feel as if I am part of the family. This is a huge thing in life, and I am very thankful to have a team I can depend on.
Integrity: Some would argue that integrity is doing the right thing, even when no one else is around to observe your actions. But, is it as simple as that? I am of the mentality that these lessons must first be observed to be fully embraced, and finding a person (or persons) whom you can trust would be the first step on the road to possessing integrity. Only great people should be entrusted with great responsibilities, and I believe that the team here at CSP would qualify.
Decisiveness: Sometimes the worst decision is making no decision at all. Do you have what it takes to make important decisions in the heat of the moment? A great coach must learn how to make decisions on the fly and adapt where needed.
Tact: This is a huge one not only in fitness, but also in life. How you approach someone and handle certain scenarios can make or break you. You must learn how individuals perceive things in order to be an effective communicator and leader.
Initiative: Go out there and get what you want! Don’t see something you like? Try and see what you can do to make it better. Something as little as putting weights back at the gym you work in may not seem like a big deal, but people notice.
Endurance: If you want to be out in front, then you must learn to never give up and keep on digging through tough times. You are 20 times more capable than what you think you can do, and the body is a machine. However, endurance is more than finding yourself, it is about convincing others that they too have what it takes to succeed. If you can convince others to follow, then you have what it takes to be a great leader.
Bearing: No matter what, someone is always watching. If you want to be a great leader, you must learn how to hold yourself to the highest standards as possible.
Unselfishness: As a coach, sometimes you will go hours on end without a meal or even sometimes miss a workout. This is one of the many things you may do to help others reach their goals. Learn how to put a team first and you will be recognized for such acts.
Courage: Do you have what it takes to face fear? Fear comes in many forms, and being able to push past that comfort zone and find the will to succeed is a huge part of being a great leader. Do you think outside the box, or do you do the same thing day in and day out?
Knowledge: Brian Tracy said that if you read just 30 minutes a day, you will double your income and come out on top. The Marine Corps taught me to simply know more tomorrow than I did today. Without knowledge, judgment becomes intuition, and decision-making becomes guessing. If you want to be ahead, you must constantly strive to better yourself.
Loyalty: An unending commitment! If you truly want to become a fitness coach, don’t just do it part time. Make it your life’s passion and work, and do everything you can do better yourself. Loyalty to yourself and those around you will separate you from the crowd.
Enthusiasm: Don’t just do things simply for the sake of doing them. Anything worth doing is worth giving it your all. If you want to become a great leader, motivation is very important. I should also mention that it is contagious. The more motivated you become, the more chances you have for success.
There is never a day in my life when I am not thankful for the things I have learned in life and continue to learn. Surround yourself with mentors who possess strong leadership traits and you’ll find yourself on the track to self-improvement. I hope you can learn from these leadership traits.
Want to learn from George on the training floor as well? Shoot us an email to learn more about CSP’s bootcamp services: