Saturday, August 21, 2010

I’ve thought a lot about whether to do a post on this subject or not. I am choosing to do so in order to clear up any misunderstandings that clients may have as to why I left NSC, as well as to give “my side of the story” and clear my name, since I’ve been accused of lying. This will be the one and only time I speak on this subject publicly. After this post, I’ll never address the subject again. I have much much more important things to do and projects that require my attention and energy.
...There seems to be a lot of confusion regarding my departure from CrossFit North Santa Cruz.
Just so there is no misunderstanding, I was definitely not “asked to leave” NSC or “forced to resign”. ...However, nor did I simply just “leave to pursue other opportunities”.
I left of my own free will and volition, as a direct and immediate response to what I was told during a private meeting with one of the owners as to his feelings about me as a coach and a person. I most definitely quit.
I was told, directly to my face;
“You want to know how I really feel? Generally speaking, you really offer nothing to the clients as a coach, and I think you really have no business even being on the floor. Yeah, occasionally, if the workout suits you or interests you, then yeah, you may step up & get involved and coach a bit. Otherwise, I think you really offer the clients nothing as a coach. And that’s how I really feel. ...Are we clear?!”
That is what I was told. I did not misconstrue the message. I did not take it out of context. It was very direct, and it was very clear. It was said with contempt. It was said with malice. It was said with conviction. He even closed with, “Are we clear?!”.
I could not continue to work for, or with, someone who actually thinks that about me as a coach or a person. Period. I have spent the last 15 years of my life absolutely devoted to my clients and to everyone I have the opportunity to work with. It is my commitment and devotion to my clients that fuels my existence. One of the biggest driving forces in my life and my primary objectives in life is to help and empower as many people as I can. That is how I live my life. ...He was directly attacking my credibility and character and was discounting everything I’ve done as a coach for the last 15 years of my life. At what point do you not stand up for yourself anymore?
I know his comment was absolutely untrue, but it still pissed me off. He said it with conviction and purpose, as though, either; ...a.), That’s honestly how he felt (for which I give him props for actually having the balls to say it to my face), ...b.), He just said it out of anger and wanted to elicit a reaction out of me, (for which he did), or ...c.), I slept with his ex-girlfriend and he found out about it. (...Things happen.)
This was, however, a private conversation between myself and only one owner of CFNSC. Thus, logically, I know and fully understand that what this individual feels about me as either a coach or a person does not necessarily accurately reflect the consensus of the rest of the ownership or management team at NSC. Even with that being so, I could not continue to work for him, and so I quit.
One of the only reasons I am bothering to write this post is because since all of this occurred, this same individual is denying that it ever happened and telling people that I am making false accusations about him. He is saying that I am lying about the whole thing. Hearing this only strengthens my resolve as far as my decision to leave. And yes, it kind of pisses me off. Again he is attacking my credibility and character. ...If you are going to have the balls to say something like that to someone’s face, then I would think you would have the balls to stand buy it. If you think I’m an asshole when other people don’t, then stand by your convictions and tell them why you think I’m an asshole. ...I really don’t understand it. But whatever. So be it, I guess.
If you are a client of NSC, and are reading this, I hope you know and understand that I did not abandon you. I stayed for as long as I could. But after being told such a thing to my face, I just couldn’t continue to work there and still retain any self respect or look myself in the mirror every day. To put it bluntly, it was simply “the last straw”.
Long ago when I was considering leaving NSC, it was Randy Reynolds & Craig Parks, (who are now both co-owners), along with many of the regular clientele, who asked me to stay and try to make it a better place. I remember hearing the words, “Please don’t abandon us, Jason.” Those words resonated deep within me, and so I stayed. That memory sticks with me to this day. ...I hope you don’t feel that I abandoned you. I did not.
It was you, the clients, and my devotion to you that fueled my enthusiasm when I was on the floor and was why I stayed at NSC for as long as I did. It was my regular engagement with each of you that compelled me to stay. You have all been a very important and beloved part of my life, and I really do miss all of you dearly. I am certainly truly grateful that I had the opportunity to coach each and every one of you and get to know you as individuals. You have all touched my life deeply and helped me grow as both a coach, and as a person. I am forever grateful for that, well as for NSC in even providing me that opportunity to begin with.
...Regardless of whatever disagreements that have occurred between myself and NSC, I think everyone who is currently a part of CFNSC ownership and management, ...even the one whom I had the private conversation with that initiated my departure, wants to see their gym and the community for which it serves, and for which support it, grow into the vision that we all had of what CFNSC could be. I was a part of CFNSC from it’s inception and I am sincerely grateful to have been provided that opportunity so many years ago.
I truly feel that Craig Parks, Randy Reynolds and Helen Cavender buying in to CrossFit North Santa Cruz has been a Godsend for that establishment. Not only have they each contributed a significant amount of money towards the betterment of the business and facility, but they have each contributed countless hours of their time and energy, working incessantly towards their endeavor of making CFNSC a better experience for everyone involved, especially the clients. I know they will continue to do so until the greater vision of what we all know CFNSC could be comes to fruition.
While this is not an ideal situation for anyone involved, I liken it to that of a painful breakup. Initially, it is very difficult for all parties involved. However, through time, both parties come to the realization that while it was a difficult, or even painful, experience to go through, the transition ultimately proves to be a very healthy and positive change for all parties involved. I honestly feel that everyone will grow from this, even myself.
Through the difficult transition of my departure, I encourage you and everyone within the CFNSC community, the clients, to pull together and find strength in each other. ...After all, it is the CFNSC community,, ...the clients, that truly make CrossFit North Santa Cruz a beautiful place.
Jason “J-Dog” Highbarger


Dan said...

What does it all mean?

CrossFit OG said...

...It's Japanese Kanji symbol for "Betrayal".

Dan said...

Very well posted. My first comment was when just the image was posted, so here are my thoughts on the North Santa Cruz issue:

Although I am not a NSC client, I consider myself a current client as well as a friend. Being such, I know what you do... and all the time and effort that you sacrifice to help anyone that would prosper from your advice.

You are knowledgeable in all aspects of the "CrossFit Game." Your coaching and queues are awesome, your programming is phenomenal, you definitely know your nutrition... You're a great coach (actually, the best I know of). And I wont throw that out to just anyone.

I know that you have had some issues in the past with NSC and that you stuck around purely for some of the owners and your clients who respect you and treasure the experience they have with you, as I do.

With that being said, it is unfortunately clear that this is a result of "Option C." I think it's terrible that someone can let what they feel about you personally, affect there business decisions, especially in the shared business venture that is CrossFit North Santa Cruz. It not only hurts the clients, but it hurts the business. Especially as "Option C" is an "ex-girlfiend," meaning that they are not together. You hurt this one owner, and he is trying to find what he can do to hurt you... but in turn he is hurting himself.

I agree with what you did. In order to preserve your own honor, you spelled out what had occurred and explained the circumstances. Although not directly pertaining to me, I respect you still for posting what I'm sure puzzled many of the clients and other more respected owners.

"One of the common failings among honorable people is a failure to appreciate how throuroughly dishonorable some other people can be, and how dangerous it is to trust them." -Thomas Sowell

See you Tuesday, Coach.

Dan Pfiefer