Update: Also listen to my interview with Larry Gelwix 1 year after his mission in Fresno, California.
How I Ended Up in President Gelwix’s Kitchen
Have you ever found yourself in a remarkable experience that you almost don’t believe it? When I started Leading Saints almost 2 years ago I didn’t expect it would have such an impact on my life. I started it to become a better leader myself but I didn’t think that education would come in such life changing ways.
Liz Wiseman is such a trailblazer in the field of leadership. If you haven’t read Multipliers yet, make it a priority. Very few books have painted such a clear pictures of how I lacked as a leader as much as this book did. Buy it, borrow it, read it, study it. Not only is Liz Wiseman such a fantastic researcher and author, she is also genuine and willing to talk to the little guy (like me). Liz (a member of the LDS church) has been so kind to talk with me over the phone a handful of times and answer some of my questions about her book.
During one of these phone calls she told me about her visit to the California Fresno Mission and the leadership training she did for all zone leaders and district leaders. You see, she references Coach Larry Gelwix as a multiplier in her book many times. Coach Gelwix is now President Gelwix of the California Fresno Mission. If you don’t know who President Gelwix is then you need to watchForever Strong immediately (available on Netflix). Liz explained to me how incredible it was to be among such worthy young men and to teach them leadership principles. She then offered me the invitation to join her the next time she did training for the Fresno missionaries. A few months after that conversation Liz emailed me with details for her next Fresno Mission training. I jumped at the opportunity and bought plane tickets.
I was in the Fresno mission just over 48 hours but it was the most educational and influential 48 hours I have had in a while. To sum up the trip here are the 8 things I learned from President (Coach) Gelwix.
Be Willing to Make a Sandwich for Anyone
When I made the decision to attend the training I was hoping just to get an opportunity to meet President Gelwix, let alone spend hours one-on-one with him. I soon learned that President Gelwix doesn’t care if you are a general authority, a best-selling author, or a guy who writes a silly blog. If you are a person he will treat you like the most important person. He not only shook my hand, he offered me a room to stay in at the mission home…he asked me to go with him on his many errands he had to run…he introduced me as his friend to everyone we talked to…he even offered to make me soup and a sandwich in his kitchen.
Be Normal AND Remarkable
By the end of my visit I soon realized how President Gelwix is simply a normal man. We talked business, politics, family, and more. He never claimed to be perfect or to have all the answers. But when he stood in front of his missionaries he demanded accountability without even uttering a word. He spoke to them in a fashion where you could almost see the confidence build within them. After he spoke they wanted to be more.
Be Willing to Ride With Those You Lead
President Gelwix told me that he goes out with his missionaries 3 to 4 times a week. In the summer he even puts on a helmet and rides a bike with the missionaries in the California heat. He told me he does this because he wants the missionaries to know that when they are discouraged and tired they need to know their mission president is willing to do the hard work as well.
F.I.O. (Figure It Out)
FIO is a word that many missionaries where using during my visit. I soon found out it is an acronym. President Gelwix doesn’t tout that he has all the answers and he doesn’t expect his missionaries to have all the answers. He does, however, expect them to stick with a difficult task and with effort they will Figure It Out.
Accolades Find the True Leaders
I asked President Gelwix how the Forever Strong movie came to be. He said, “They just called me.” I asked him how the assignment as mission president came to be. He said, “They just called me.” I hope people keep calling him.
Respect Those That Teach You
At the beginning of the trainings I noticed that each missionary who had something to add to the discussion would patiently raise their hand and when called upon would stand up and share their thought or question. I was caught off guard at first but by the end of the training I too was standing when I had something to say. It created a feeling of respect, it was easier to hear the commenter, and it created order. Try enforcing this habit during Elder’s Quorum and the quality of the discussion will improve.
If Their Head Isn’t in the Game — Wake ’em Up!
The morning of the training many of the missionaries seemed lackadaisical. President Gelwix noticed this and stood up from his chair. He then challenged his missionaries to get focused or else he would have to get his epipen out and infuse some energy directly into their heart. That seemed to wake them up.
Respect and Love the Women in Life
The secret to President Gelwix’s success is Sister Gelwix. She was a pleasure to meet and get to know. She couldn’t help but show me the many pictures of her grandchildren. She is more proud of those kids than her husband’s 404-10 rugby record. President Gelwix was so respectful to his wife and the other women he came in contact with. Whenever a woman would enter the room the missionaries would stand in respect.
Of course this list could be much longer — the full list can only be manifested in the lives of the California Fresno missionaries and all others that have been impacted by President Gelwix’s influence.
I also don’t want to down play the fact I spend a lot of time with Liz Wiseman. Her credentials are many and she could have easily spent her time elsewhere. However, she has a deep testimony and feels it is crucial that young missionary leaders understand how to multiply others around them rather than diminish them. I think the credentials she is most proud of include being a mother, a wife, a latter-day saint. (She’s a top candidate for the next “I’m a Mormon” video…at least in my book).
Now go watch the movie.
For further information about President Gelwix visit the following links: