Wednesday morning at 5:30 am my son, Clark and I are in the garage for our workout.

I’m working on PUSH-type exercises — Overhead press, Incline press — and Clark is doing a 10 round circuit of pullups, pushups, and squats. We call his workout the mini-Murph.

He’s chattier than me when it’s still dark out. I remind him that we can chat in-between exercises but I can’t be in a lifting movement and talk at the same time.

My lift finishes and Clark says, “I forgot what round I just did. I don’t know if it was around 3 or 4. . . . I’ll just re-do it so I don’t miss a round.”

He didn’t think twice about it. He didn’t try to jump ahead and possibly skip a round of his workout. In the worst-case scenario, he does 11 rounds instead of his planned 10. He wasn’t trying to shortcut, excuse, or jump ahead. He was staying with the work, right where it was.

I was proud of this, and also wanted to share with him that this is is what Leadership by example is about. He’s 8 years old. He’s got 3 younger siblings that he directly influences and he also influences me, because of his choices to do the extra.

I’m waking up an 8-year-old, by his choice, at 5:20 to get in the garage by 5:30. It’s dark out, the garage is still a bit chilly from the night before, but he does it.

He doesn’t complain, doesn’t say ‘Let me sleep longer’, no snooze, or ‘just 5 more minutes.’ He gets up and gets to work. He has the intention, (we all have good ones of these — right?), and then follows through.

In our culture, we laugh and joke about skipping our workouts, not waking up on time, choosing to have 6 drinks when the intention was 2, breaking our diets because it’s somebody’s birthday, or spending money when we said we were going to save. We break the commitments we made with ourselves, and then come up with why ‘this time it was different’, and ‘how we will do better next time.’ We give into weakness.

Age doesn’t matter with leadership. The actions do: how we solve problems and the attitude toward them. So what do we do when things get tough? When we made the feel-good commitment, but now have to follow through?

Clark reminds me to complain less, to follow through, and then when things don’t go as planned or I forget where I’m at to always choose to do the extra set, and I look up to him for that.

Learning to lead @ Dancer Concrete Design. Husband to a beautiful woman and father to 3 sons. Author of ‘Day-IN, Day-Out.’ — available at Amazon.