Northeast Tennessee

2nd Annual Convergence—Common Threads

Northeast Tennessee Johnson City Iron Horse (Founders Park) Erwin Kingsport

The official two-year anniversary of F3 Northeast Tennessee arrived. After planting and leading the group for the past two years, the Regional Nant’an role was officially handed over to Pythagorus.

The weather was beautiful as 48 PAX (including Jar Jar who had to work but made it a point to workout at Founders Park before the convergence, respect) made their way to Founders Park for the celebration.

YHC was the QIC for the convergence. This was purposeful. I wanted my last official Q as the Nant’an to send a message—to tell the story of F3 Northeast Tennessee and express my parting sentiments as the leader of the group. The workout was intentionally designed to be highly symbolic and represent our journey over the past two years, while reiterating a key theme—we are one region. While we have expanded and grown in number, we share a common bond that holds us together—brotherhood.

The order of each evolution and the respective leader was intentional and symbolic. It represents the progression of our growth as a Region.

  • Evolution 1: Donatello (Founding Nant’an)
  • Evolution 2: Rite Aid (Representing Johnson City AO’s. Rite Aid was instrumental in helping get F3 going in NETN, so it’s appropriate that he leads this evolution)
  • Evolution 3: Escape Hatch (Representing Iron Valley, the 1st AO outside of Johnson City planted)
  • Evolution 4: Trolly (Representing Wilderness Road, the most recent AO outside of Johnson City)
  • Evolution 5: Pythagorus (Incoming Nant’an)

Each evolution was given 10 minutes—an equal amount of time. Every AO is equally as important to the overall mission of F3 in NETN.

I decided that we will not be splitting up into smaller groups, as typical with convergence events and large groups. We were keeping the group together—regardless of how large. A collective representation of all the AO’s in the same space, the collective effort of the past two years.


PRAYER—A volunteer was requested, as my emotions were already creeping up after a short welcome. Honcho, of all people, obliged.

The warm-up was short. 20 SSH IC. After the SSH, I asked Pauly to come to the middle. Pauly was getting married later that day—to Kardashians daughter. Kardashian had asked a few of the guys to write down some marriage advice and give it to Pauly at various junctures during the workout. Glory brought paper and plastic easter eggs to store the advice. Pauly had eggs falling out of his shorts most of the day.

I went ahead and gave Pauly my advice. As the father of two daughters, I can say that all we really want is for our daughters to find husbands that will love them and treat them with the respect they deserve. While Pauly is not much too look at—his heart is as big as he is. Anyone can see he’s smitten. Any dad would be fortunate to have Pauly as a son-in-law. However, now that he’s getting married and will be doing man things later (kept it PG out of respect to Kardashian), it’s time for him to start drinking a mans beer—no more Ultra!


  • Evolution 1 (Donatello): We kept it simple with two of my favorite exercises: burpees and merkins. A nice little burp/merkin ladder up to 10. The plan was up to 10 and back down, but just like Old Faithful, the burpee train rolled through. It was a 25-30 rep train, respectable. I called it a 10 and handed the Q over to Rite Aid. Mosey to the amphitheater.
  • Evolution 2 (Rite Aid): Rite Aid kept it simple with a nice set of Lieutenant Dans (1 squat: 4 lunge ratio). We went up to 7. Those are deceptive, the lunges add up quick. Mosey over to Tombstone Hill.
  • Evolution 3 (Escape Hatch): Grouped up set’s of 5 to keep the flow of traffic moving.
    • Bernie Sanders to 3rd light pole -> sprint to the top (rinse and repeat 3-4 times).
    • Broad jump to the 2nd light pole -> sprint to the top (rinse and repeat).
    • Skaters to the 2nd light pole -> sprint to the top (rinse and repeat).

Mosey back to the amphitheater.

  • Evolution 4 (Trolly): 45 seconds of continuous work, rotating immediately to the next exercise, 2 times through.
    • Box jumps
    • Dips
    • SSH
    • Merkins
  • Finished of with a hand holding Al Gore count off. It took a while, there was some moaning and groaning.

Mosey back to the shovel flag.

Nant’an Hand Off 

I circled the guys up and talked for a few minutes on the concept of the Nant’an. The term comes from a book—The Starfish and the Spider—which discusses the power of de-centralized leadership. The Apache survived as a tribe for centuries, despite being attacked by the Spanish, Mexicans, and Americans. They survived in large part due to tribal structure. They did not have a chief or designated formal leader, they had Nant’ans—informal leaders who the people just followed. The Nant’an led by example, not through edict or command. If the Nant’an decided to attack, the people chose whether or not they wanted to follow. Most often they did, they trusted the Nant’an. It empowered the people and spawned them to act in various capacities to support the overall good of the group. When one Nant’an was gone or the tribe was attacked, splitting the tribe, another stepped into their place as the person the people chose to follow, working to accomplish the same overall goal of protecting the tribe. It wasn’t until 1914 they were finally subjugated—by cows. The US government decided to stop fighting and use a tool far more powerful—self-interest. Once the Apache had possessions, they developed the institutions to protect them and no longer put the good of the group ahead of themselves. The tribe fell. While it did not end well, there is still a tremendous amount of wisdom and insight to be learned. Our new Nant’an will be Pythagorus. I’ve gotten to know him over the past 2 years. He’s become a trusted friend. I trust him with my life and I trust him to lead F3 Northeast Tennessee. I trust him to lead by example and make good decisions that put the good of the good of the group and the mission of F3 ahead of his own interest. He’s the new Nant’an. I’m choosing to follow Pythagorus. 

  • Evolution 5 (Pythagorus).
    • Bear crawl from sidewalk to sidewalk
    • Lunge from sidewalk to sidewalk
    • Crab walk from sidewalk to sidewalk
    • Flutter kicks (30 IC)


Following the formal conclusion of the workout, the PAX surprised me with some parting gifts. As expected there was an assortment of Donatello (Ninja Turtle) themed toys, some bubble bath, a pink flower, incense, candles, essential oils, and of course—some Michelob Ultra—which I promptly opened and commenced drinking, because it’s basically water and I was parched.

Then Glory stepped out with an assortment of IPAs (real beer) in this nifty wooden carrying case with the F3 logo burned on the side—it was awesome. He handed a me a card and said many kind words that are not deserved. He then informed me that the men of F3 NETN were sending my wife and I on a weekend get away in Asheville, recognizing that the commitment made to F3 NETN over the past two years was not mine alone.

I lost it. The thoughtfulness of the men and the sense of gratitude were overwhelming. I tearfully told the men that I would be a bad husband if I didn’t say something about my wife. She’s a saint. She’s been patient with me over the past 2 years. It’s mostly due to my personality, I do not commit to many things, but when I do—it’s all in. It’s not so much the being gone for workouts, but it’s being distracted and focused on tending to F3. Despite my shortcomings, she’s been overwhelming supportive because she also knows the impact that F3 can have on the community. She’s observed it here and in South Carolina. She knows it’s important.

From that point I basically launched into a recap of what I’ve already written about here, so I won’t restate it.

I will say that there is one more lesson in leadership that I’ve learned, but did not include in that post—the ability to let go. After planting the group and investing everything I have into growing it over the past two years, there is a temptation to hang on and maintain control. A final test of leadership, and perhaps the most difficult, is being able to step aside. To put the good of the group ahead of your own selfish interest. To be content and trust that what has been built will not just sustain itself—but continue to grow. We will.

Just know that I’m extremely grateful for the past two years. I’m grateful for the men of F3 and the brotherhood that’s been built. Thank you men for making the day memorable.


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