Two months ago, I wrote about my friend Matt, the farmer.
Matt is ALL IN. He has another job to pay the bills, but he’s 100% farmer. Yesterday his wife texted me this picture:
It’s a baby calf. In their living room, in front of the fire, on their blankets.
I was raised among sheep farmers. Many times in March, an early lamb would be brought into my grandfather’s kitchen, placed in a cardboard box, and rest on the open oven door for warmth. The house smelled like hay and new wool. Baby lambs smell good.
Baby cows do NOT smell good.
When a calf is born in the cold of March, and her mom won’t take care of her, the farmer has three options:
He could let her die.
He could lay on the ground beside her and share his own warmth.
Or he could bring her into the house and lay her in front of the fire.
Obviously, Matt took the third option. My father and grandfather did the same.
Not many farmers would choose the first option. And NONE would take the second. But most gym owners do. I’ll explain:
When a member can’t afford their service, many gym owners will sacrifice their rate, and give them a discount.
When a staff member needs to get paid, the gym owner will sacrifice their own pay, instead of admitting they just can’t afford the help.
When a client has a favorite charity, or needs help, the gym owner will run a charitable event even when their gym isn’t making money.
Laying on the cold, frozen ground with a calf for a few minutes in an extreme situation to save its life? Maybe that’s understandable. At least until it warms enough to get it inside by the fire.
But laying on the ground until it learns to walk? That endangers the entire herd. And the farmer. And his family. Martyrdom makes for great eulogies and no breakfast.
Instead, the farmer should work hard to build a warm home for his family FIRST. Then, when a helpless calf is in trouble, he can save it without endangering himself.
In my first few years of gym ownership, I ran fundraisers for Murph, the Wounded Warrior Foundation, the Heart Society, the Cancer Society…and my members gave generously. Each time, the charity would make more money from the business than I would in the same week.
Then I’d ask my members to pay for a specialty group, and they’d say, “You just charged us for Murph!” Even though I donated the money to a charity.
So I stopped. For a couple of years, we gave VERY little to others. We grew the business and made it rock-solid. When it started to generate more than we needed, we started to donate again. Now we’re able to donate tens of thousands of dollars every year, because that money doesn’t impoverish the gym.
Even better, I can donate my time, because I have a surplus of time to share. When my kids’ school has an event, my wife is there every single time, because she doesn’t have to punch a clock anywhere else.
I went to visit Matt yesterday. We took him some old towels for the calf. His little boy peeked through the screen door while we talked to Matt in the yard. The kids have a warm home, John Deere hoodies to wear and a great dad.
And a calf in the living room.