I have registered for the Comrades Marathon 2016. Except this is not your ordinary 26.2 mile marathon. The course in 2016 between Pietermaritzburg and Durban will be approximately 90 kilometers or just under 56 miles. In my first two marathons I raised money for charity. I have not done that since 2011. As I prepare for my longest race ever in 2016, I want to share something with those who follow my preparation and cheer for me to complete the race. I want to share information about a not-for-profit called Sharp Dressed Man. I am hoping that my efforts and my call to action will inspire some of those who follow along to make at least a small donation to Sharp Dressed Man.
When I think of Sharp Dressed Man I think of second chances, confidence, and coordination. The organization collects used suits, prepares them to be given to men who are in need of a suit for an interview or a job but who are somehow down on their luck, and works with other organizations to help the men learn other basic skills that can help them to put their lives back together.
Have I ever been in a situation that would lead me to need this type of opportunity? No. But I think we can all relate to stories of second chances, needing confidence, and the value of coordination.
So let me briefly share my story of why these themes speak to me so much.
First, I think everyone needs second chances at some point in time. Some are just bigger needs than others. I got a second chance at being fit and healthy after letting myself gain ten pounds in the first year of my youngest son’s life which was the last of nineteen years of nearly no exercise. I’ve made big changes in my educational training and in my career. I’ve made mistakes in my career and needed more time or another chance to get things right. I have overcommitted and ended up not doing the right thing by any of the commitments I made and then needed a second chance to follow through. I’ve never found myself so down on my luck that I was homeless or bankrupt or needed a total restart. However, I know how valuable second chances can be on a day to day basis even if they are just little second chances.
Second, confidence. Even as a highly successful professional, I spent the first 16+ years of my career at a university not caring about suits and (other than not wanting to look like a fool) not really caring how I dressed. After I made a big job switch within my university my boss told me to get better suits. I had met Christopher Schafer of Sharp Dressed Man a year earlier at ArtScape, and I decided to go to the Christopher Schafer Clothier for a suit. I later bought two more. Having the right suit even makes a difference for someone like me. I felt more confident—about work and everything else. I felt better. I talked to others who noticed. I talked to others who had their own story. The key is to be confident in myself without being arrogant toward others. My second chance at better clothing gave me a chance to have a story and reflect. But the fact that I needed a second chance gives me no right to ever be arrogant toward others as they explore their own style and impression issues.
Third, for coordination. I know I cannot prepare for the 90 km race all by myself. I have many running friends who will join me for miles along the way. I have a coach who will help me to prepare. I have friends on social media who encourage. I have a family who supports me. I know what I do well. I know what others do well. We each need to play our part. Christopher Schafer knows what he and Seth do well. And he knows how to find other people to team up with for the other aspects of helping the men he places in suits through Sharp Dressed Man.
So, I am asking you to join me to help Sharp Dressed Man on its journey. My journey is a physical one. Sharp Dressed Man is on a journey that is part love—a love of giving and a love of the space on Park Avenue. Sharp Dressed Man is on a journey that is part rejuvenation—using as many recycled materials as possible to spruce up the old building and put in dressing rooms, mirrors and multiple racks to store the donated suits. Sharp Dressed Man is on a journey that is part spiritual—believing in the men who are getting the second chances. Sharp Dressed Man is on a journey that is part financial—the money to rent the space and store the suits and provide the fitting services has to come from somewhere. Sharp Dressed Man is on a journey that represents the best of what successful business people can do—doing business with humanity in mind with the goal of building economies and societies and not just building up ourselves. Consider making a small donation at http://www.sharpdressedman.org/shop/. And if you do, please let me know or let Christopher Schafer know so we can continue on this journey together.
Anyone who makes a donation and lets me know will get a free copy of reflections I am writing in the six months of training for Comrades—The Spirit of a Runner on the Way to Comrades. It should be available by August 1, 2016 after I clean up what I write during the training.