Can’t See The Forest For The Legs

legsSkinny, REALLY skinny legs.

It’s such a cliche. And I’ve now witnessed the reality of it for myself. In fact, now that my eyes have been opened, I see it multiple times a day. And it’s still a shocking, almost surreal image:

Guys with MASSIVE upper bodies and TOOTHPICK legs.

Sure, I’d seen the photo-shopped memes and other joke photos through the years accentuating the grotesque corporal imbalance, but I always thought they were exaggerating.

Until the other day when I finally saw it in person at my local gym.

Right there in front of me, as I meaninglessly hoisted an innocuously low weight on a some sort of pulley device, was a dude with a massive chest and arms bursting out of a three sizes too small midriff thing with legs as skinny as my 8th grade son’s. I thought I had somehow been transported back to the ‘house of mirrors funhouse’ at Lagoon, an amusement park of my youth. The sight was so inconceivable I was sure that somehow I was looking at some sort of live ‘camera trick’ or special effect, or that David Blaine or Chriss Angel was going to pop out from behind the Latblaster and levitate.

I have a couple of friends who have been confined to wheelchairs nearly all of their lives and their legs, having atrophied over the years from never being used, are more muscular and robust than this guy’s were. It didn’t take long to identify one or two other stork-legged musclemen who apparently all suffer the same malady: Men Obsessed With Big Upper Bodies or MOWBUB. (Don’t bother looking it up)

What is going on here? Is it possible that women, I assume they are the motivation for all the workouts, are NOT repulsed by the broomstick legs of these he-men? How do these guys NOT look in the mirror and see the self-created deformity that’s resulted from their narrow-minded excitement to have pecs and biceps worthy of a Marvel superhero? The animated “Mr. Incredible” and his impossibly minuscule legs supporting an enormous torso come vividly to mind. But he was drawn for comic effect.

The problem is clear. These bodybuilders just aren’t seeing the big picture. They’re nearsightedly putting every ounce of energy, effort and work into only half of the equation: The pretty side. The glamour muscles. The GUNS.


Guys. Two words: leg day. Work one in every few days, yeah?

At work, do we obsess over one thing too much? Like glamour or glory? Are our eyes locked too much on getting to the ‘big show’ because it’s what we think everybody will ooh and ahh over? Only to find that our neglect of other equally critical, but less glitzy concerns has left us unbalanced and difficult to look at?

As an example, many of your peers and direct reports may be adversely impacted by the implications of Obama’s new overtime threshold; morale and engagement may take a hit. Are you focusing energy on how you’ll handle that? Or what about the political divisiveness that is sure to rear its head among your department during what has already proven to be an ugly and sometime violent presidential election season? Is proper time and attention being paid to developing and retaining talent?

The potential list of ignored-because-they’re-not-readily-eye-catching work concerns–the calves and quads of your KRAs perhaps–is endless.

If you find yourself trapped by your own obsession to strut like a steroid-packed peacock around the cubicles relentlessly working out a single showy slice of your job, you may need to back away from the bench press and slowly put the ‘guns’ down. Look in the mirror and recognize that while you’ve been pumping yourself up with politicking, glad-handing, and maneuvering with senior leaders in order to land a possible future promotion, the very tangible, foundational talents that got you where you are to begin with are beginning to atrophy from lack of use.

Remember the big picture. Strong foundation. Balance. Proportion.

Work a leg day in now and then.