There once was a man who lived in a cabin next to a field. In the middle of the field was a huge rock – an enormous boulder. One night, God came to the man in a dream and said “I want you to go out in the morning and every morning after that and push the rock with all your heart and all your might.” So, the next morning and every morning after that the man did exactly as God instructed. Every morning, day after day, week after week, month after month – no matter the weather – the man woke up and pushed the rock until he could no longer push it anymore. And day after day, week after week, month after month, the rock never budged a single inch. Some days, he did not feel like pushing the rock, but he did it anyway. Some days, he did not push the rock with all his heart and all his might, giving just a partial effort until he realized this was not God’s command. His task was to push the rock with all his heart and all his might, every morning. He grew frustrated and prayed, “God, why am I pushing this rock? Day after day, week after week, month after month I have pushed this rock. I have never moved it, and never will!”
God replied, “I did not ask you to MOVE the rock, I asked you to PUSH the rock with all your heart and all your might. You have been an obedient and faithful servant; now look how you have transformed yourself: your shoulders are broad, your arms are strong, your legs are powerful. You are now ready for me to use you for a greater purpose!”
On a Saturday morning three years ago tomorrow, a handful of guys from Charlotte drove down to Columbia to introduce us to F3. At the time, we didn’t know it was the first time a new expansion methodology was being put to the test as the #ColumbiaModel was being created. We also didn’t know – we could not FATHOM – the future impact put into motion on that chilly October morning.
Since the flooding hit Columbia and Irmo two weeks ago, story after story has gotten back to me about the F3 response. Pax wearing F3 shirts have been stopped by random strangers who just wanted to say thank you. Emails, notes, and letters have come in praising our efforts. Social media has lit up with messages of gratitude. TV, newspaper, radio, and even freelance writers have asked for interviews. We’ve had a surge of FNGs who want to be a part of what we have. While accolades and praise are nice, to a man all of our pax have responded the exact same way: “Thank you, but really it’s not about us. It’s WHAT WE DO.”
“Flood Relief” doesn’t appear anywhere in the Mission Statement of F3. When a guy shows up to a workout and gets a nickname, we don’t hand him a dust mask and a shovel and say “get to work.” Instead, we offer him the opportunity to freely join our brotherhood to improve his fitness, expand his circle of friends, and develop a sense of purpose to improve his community. We offer him a chance to become and be a leader. Two weeks ago, we showed Columbia what F3 means to us: we were physically fit to do the exhausting work with great stamina, we operated as a cohesive unit of friends who know each other’s strengths and know how to work as a team, and we carried with us an #IAmThird attitude. Perhaps the most evocative statement came from McLovin who asked “What if this is what we’ve been preparing for all these years.” I’ll add to that from the story above: For three years we’ve been pushing the rock, getting ready for God to use us for a greater purpose. I don’t believe there was any other group in Columbia who could have done what we did as quickly as we did it.
Honestly, we may never know the full impact F3 had on the whole situation, primarily because of our “starfish” structure. Unlike nearly all modern organizations, we don’t rely on a central authority to dictate our next moves, and because of that, F3 men jumped in immediately to start helping. The greatest asset of our pax is the wide, wide range of talent and resources contained within F3 Nation. When we needed an electrician, one appeared. When the community needed diapers, a truck from F3 Nation arrived. When we needed bleach, a truck from F3 Nation arrived. When we needed water, dozens of trucks from F3 Nation arrived. There was not a single thing we asked for that F3 Nation did not provide. When we needed an army of volunteers to clean up the mess, more than 300 pax from all over F3Nation arrived. Leaders emerged to take teams into the worst of the damaged homes and help owners clean them out. Our tech guys set up a comz system that allowed homeowners to contact us with their needs. A command center was established to coordinate not only the teams on the ground, but also the massive amounts of relief supplies that came pouring into Columbia.
I talked to a friend who owns a disaster clean up company. He’s the guy that comes in to dry out the house and scrub it to kill any mold and bacteria in the frame of the home. He estimated that furniture removal and dry wall demolition in an average home costs the homeowner about $15,000. F3 teams in Columbia and Irmo did that in about 150 homes (conservative estimate). If you do the math, that’s $2.25 million. Carl Blackstone of the Columbia Chamber of Commerce (who was instrumental as a liason between our command center and the City of Columbia and Richland County) estimated that more than 50 semi truck loads of relief supplies moved through F3 central command (Napalm’s post at the USC Alumni Center) in the first week after the disaster. We were the first to get to get to the more remote areas in lower Richland County. We filled up at least five distribution centers and supplied a dozen more. Professional disaster response people were blown away at how fast and far along we were on the road to recovery. At one point, the Red Cross contacted US asking how they could help.
Three years ago, 12 guys posted at Dreher High School for a free workout. Now, thousands of men across the midlands have come to F3 and learned what we’re all about. Last week, we showed Columbia what it means to lead, and I am proud to push the rock with you guys.