Leadership and life? They’re about endurance

Not everyone who raises money for a good cause crosses the country to do so.

In Maryland, it just seems that way.

In 2014 it was Frank Ryan, a CPA and Business Learning Institute instructor who walked more than 2,800 miles from San Diego to Ocean City to raise money and awareness for Good Shepherd Services.

This year, fellow BLI instructor Greg Conderacci is getting in on the act.

In May, the avid cyclist will ride his bike 2,785 miles from San Diego to Savannah, Ga., in just 18 days as part of the Elite Transcontinental, a Pacific Atlantic Cycling (PAC) Tour event that organizers are calling “the toughest two-week tour in the world.” With participants traveling between 140 and 200 miles per day, it’s easy to see why.

For Conderacci, the event is less about physical endurance and more about making a difference. He turned 66 on April 3, and to commemorate the occasion, he’ll try to raise $66,000 for the Our Daily Bread Employment Center, which feeds the hungry and helps the homeless find jobs, housing, and self-sufficiency.

Serving more than a quarter-million meals a year, Our Daily Bread is the biggest soup kitchen in Maryland. It’s more than that, though — the organization also offers its clients health care and job counseling, and Conderacci helped found the Baltimore chapter in 1981.

In fact, Conderacci cites Ryan and the Our Daily Bread clients as his personal heroes.

“My ride across the country is nothing compared to the journey these guys have made,” Conderacci said. “It’s a dim echo of what they do and what Frank has done. I want to be able to demonstrate that very ordinary people, like me, can do something extraordinary for a good cause. Frank has demonstrated that, and the guys at Our Daily Bread do that every single day.”

This won’t be the first time that Conderacci has ridden coast to coast; he made his first cross-country ride 11 years ago. But it will be a much bigger test. The Elite Transcontinental covers more ground in fewer days than the Tour de France.

Like any test of physical endurance, there are risks. “There’s no guarantee that I’ll finish it,” Conderacci said … but that’s just the way he likes it.

“The bike is probably the most efficient machine ever built,” he said. “It can leverage what you do in really interesting and powerful ways. You feel like you’re flying. It’s a Zen-like experience.”

Leadership lessons from the long road
Of course, when two BLI instructors cross the country within a year of one another, it’s only a matter of time before they bring that Zen-like experience to the classroom. Such is the case with Conderacci and Ryan, who are teaming up to present a new BLI program titled “Extraordinary Endurance: Leadership Lessons from the Long Road.”

“Being a good parent, excelling at a profession, having good health, overcoming an addiction, achieving long-term goals, leading others — all of these things require extraordinary endurance,” Conderacci said. “It’s not just about finding a burst of energy today so I can get through this meeting. We have to get up tomorrow and do it again and again and again.”

This program, Conderacci said, will show us how.

“Frank and I are very excited to do this together. I’m not sure there are any other courses like this out there.”

Conderacci’s ultimate inspiration for making the trek, though, might be less about charity or education or endurance and more about motivating others to be the best they can be.

“One of life’s tricks is to marshal as much motivation from as many sources as possible. I want to be able to stand up in front of a group of people and say, ‘Look, even an old guy with rickety knees can do this.’ If I can do this, you can do similar good stuff. Be willing to take that risk, accept surprises, be motivated, understand what you’re experiencing and why, and be willing to have fun. If you see people who are having trouble getting through their day, usually one of those things is missing.”

“A good leader,” he added, “brings endurance to his or her organization. It’s not just about me keeping on keeping on. It’s about helping you to keep on keeping on.”

Make a contribution
You can follow Greg’s progress and make a contribution to his cause here.


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