“Pressure creates diamonds, so be ready to rise above the norm.” — Christian Koshaba
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of dealing with crisis and how to adapt and overcome. The context of this series is the physical and financial fallout that resulted from the COVID 19 pandemic. Crisis management is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Christian Koshaba.
Christian is an Air Force veteran who was inspired to start Three60Fit after suffering through his own personal setbacks and injuries. He has achieved his goal of creating a welcoming and supportive environment that nurtures the transformation of body, mind, and spirit for people of all abilities and levels. For those who would like to try Three60Fit’s creative approach and unconventional training, the gym offers complimentary 30-minute consultations and one free week of unlimited classes. Christian has the following certifications: USAF Physical Training Leader, CrossFit Level I Instructor, ACE-certified personal trainer — American Sports Education Program, Prevention and Care of Athletic Injuries certification, Student of UIC’s Kinesiology; Exercise Science Program and more.
Can you tell us a bit about your childhood “backstory”?
I grew up not very well off, one of six siblings. My father was born and raised in Baghdad, Iraq, so we very much grew up with that no-nonsense old school mentality. I was bullied horrifically in my early adolescence and didn’t have many friends. It wasn’t until I was introduced to martial arts and weightlifting in my early teens that I began to find my purpose and my calling.
And what are you doing today? Can you share a story that exemplifies the unique work that you are doing?
I am currently married with two children and I run and operate three businesses all housed within one roof. I own a gym — Three60Fit — but I prefer to consider it more of an integrated wellness facility. I founded a fitness ministry called Bibles & Biceps which I still operate. We currently meet twice per week and begin with a 45 min workout and finish with 45 min of Bible study. I recently instituted an American Legion post, Post 2020, out of the gym as well, which is the first post of this kind. As cliché as it sounds, I truly implement mind, body, and spirit under one roof bringing individuals back to health.
Can you tell us a bit about your military background?
I joined the United States Air Force in 2006 and served until 2010. My career field was Integrated Avionics: Electronic Warfare technician. It is dealing with defensive countermeasures on military aircraft, specifically advanced knowledge of Electromagnetic Frequencies and how to implement them. I was stationed at Elmendorf AFB, AK right outside of Anchorage. The specific aircraft I worked on, C-17, only had two defensive countermeasures systems installed, so outside of scheduled operational checks and loading chaff and flare dispensers onto the jet, there really wasn’t much work to be done within my career field. Seeing as I was a huge gym rat and naturally took my fellow airmen under my wing, my superiors approached me about becoming a Physical Training Leader (PTL). I attended the Health and Wellness Center’s course on base and began leading my squadron in PT activities. I helped bring eight individuals from a failing grade to a passing grade on their yearly physical mandated tests.
Can you share the most interesting story that you experienced during your military career? What “take away” did you learn from that story?
To further elaborate on the previous question, the “takeaway” I experienced from those individuals’ stories was that working out and exercising weren’t just about the aesthetics or being “deployable ready.” This truly was about potentially saving people’s careers and the domino effect from that. Those experiences truly awakened a newfound interest in Kinesiology (science of exercise) and the positive and necessary impact it can have.
We are interested in fleshing out what a hero is. Did you experience or hear about a story of heroism, during your military experience? Can you share that story with us? Feel free to be as elaborate as you’d like.
Though it transpired a year before my military career began, the story of Lt. Michael Murphy immediately comes to mind. If we are to flesh out a hero, he would be the epitome of what a hero stands for. Lt. Murphy sacrificed his life for his fellow brothers in arms during Operation Red Wings and showed true leadership, selflessness, and servitude while answering the call of his nation. He was the first member of the Navy, since the Vietnam War to be awarded the Medal of Honor which is the highest decoration that can be awarded.
Based on that story, how would you define what a “hero” is? Can you explain?
If I were to define a hero, it is someone who displays and personifies respect, leadership, selflessness, servitude, and empathy. You cannot just speak those values; it needs to truly be fleshed out. You can’t fake it and it becomes you to the core.
Do you think your experience in the military helped prepare you for business or leadership? Can you explain?
I would absolutely agree that my experience in the military prepared me for business and leadership. Before I joined the Air Force, I was just an angry introvert with a chip on my shoulder. If you were to tell me before my military experience that today in 2020, I would be leading, guiding, and serving close to 75 individuals (who comprise the Three60fit family), I would tell you that you are absolutely crazy! The military forces you to step outside of your “safe zone” and become comfortable with being uncomfortable. You are stripped to the core and have the ability to build upon a solid foundation fortified by God and core values. Hard work is a must. Respect is a must. Results are a must.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I would look at it as more of a group effort. The people I met while in the Air Force, who I still would consider family helped me achieve the success I have. If I were to truly pinpoint one individual, it would have to be my pastor, Jay Manguba. He helped me become a more Christ-filled individual and truly walk the walk. I would meet with him once per week for a mentoring session and we would focus on the Bible. It truly opened my eyes to Jesus Christ and how to build a relationship with God. I can’t be a leader and shepherd among people unless I learn from the best whoever did it.
Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out how to survive and thrive in crisis. How would you define a crisis?
I would define a crisis as in simple terms, chaos. This is when the natural “order” of things becomes disrupted, such as stock market crashes, a biological attack, mass shootings, etc.
Before a crisis strikes, what should business owners and leaders think about and how should they plan?
One thing I learned is that everything can change overnight, nothing is promised. Map out best- and worst-case scenarios and how to navigate through the ebbs and flows. A mass majority of the population will tend to fall into the mass hysteria and crumble under pressure. Pressure creates diamonds, so be ready to rise above the norm.
There are opportunities to make the best of every situation and it’s usually based on how you frame it. In your opinion or experience, what’s the first thing people should do when they first realize they are in a crisis situation? What should they do next?
PRAY. RELAX. PREPARE. Implement worst-case scenario drill. Respond to the response. Be ready to capitalize on ways to come out of this better. Even though it is a “crisis” in your mind, adopt the mindset that you are thriving, and everything is exactly the way it should be happening.
What do you believe are the characteristics or traits needed to survive a crisis?
Faith and perseverance are a must. My baptismal word was perseverance and I live by that. Continue the journey and do not quit no matter the circumstances. Wisdom and humbleness are needed as well. This world has the ability to rock you to your knees and being too prideful and having “all the answers” is a quick way to extended failure. Use your unsuccessful decisions as ammunition against making the same mistakes in the future. Learn from your mistakes and be wise amongst the wolves.
When you think of those traits, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
When I imagine the person who fits those traits, David Goggins pops into my mind. If you’re not familiar with this individual, do yourself a favor and purchase and read his book, “Can’t Hurt Me” immediately. *You’re welcome David* This man is among the elite of the elite and always has a student’s mindset, always willing to learn, adapt, and overcome. He personifies perseverance and how you can overcome and thrive in any situation.
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
What sticks out in my mind is the injury I sustained right after I got out of the military in 2010. I ventured to New Zealand and Australia with my brother on a celebratory trip. The eighth day into a six-week trip, I suffered a horrific injury to my right hand. A bottle had shattered in my dominant hand and I was rushed to the nearest hospital in order to receive emergency surgery. Prior to the surgery, I was told by the surgeon that I may never use my right hand again. That was among the worst things I could’ve heard. I ended up finishing out the full six-week trip and even snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef, bungee jumped, and jumped out of an airplane all with my hand casted and bandaged up. That’s just how I approach life. Upon returning to the States, I began Occupational Therapy at Edward Heinz VA Hospital in Chicago. My therapy lasted about 12 weeks and the therapist said she had not seen someone come back so quickly from an injury that I had sustained. My therapy never stopped just because I walked out of those four walls. I poured everything I had into bringing my hand back. Coming back from that injury and also seeing all the Vets at the hospital truly opened my eyes to yet another aspect of the fitness spectrum.
Here is the main question of our discussion. Crises not only have the potential to jeopardize and infiltrate your work, but they also threaten your emotional stability and relationships. Based on your military experience, what are 5 steps that someone can take to survive and thrive in these situations? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Do not panic. Under no circumstances has panic led to a smart or rational decision.
- Be patient. Tying into the previous statement, let the sheep fall off the cliff. Do not follow the herd. 90% of the population is spoon-fed information and will make ill-fated decisions by following the opinion or narrative of the masses.
- Become comfortable with being uncomfortable. You need to learn how quickly the human psyche can adapt to any situation. You are in this situation for a purpose, treat it like an equation needing to be solved.
- Surround yourself with individuals who will lift you up, be honest with you and rebuke you when needed, and who never take no for an answer. You become the five people you surround yourself with, remember that.
- Persevere. As Winston Churchill stated, “If you find yourself in hell, keep going.” I will also quote King David from the Bible in Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”
Ok. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Spiritual Socialism. This was seen in its truest form in the Book of Acts, chapter 4. Believers were selling all their goods for the poor — items, possessions, food, money, spiritual gifts, time, were all freely given, with no recompense needed, nor required. This was love and selflessness in its purest form. I would love for people to truly give to others, whatever their means necessary, with nothing expected in return, in order to bring all lost and hurting sheep back to the herd. No man or woman left behind.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂
David Goggins. After reading his book and following his social media accounts, I would love to sit in front of this individual to see the look in his eyes and speak to him about life’s struggles and how they can not only be overcome but conquered. I’d like to introduce him to my business models. Post 2020 is the first American Legion post to be operated in a gym setting. Our vets need to learn there is a better way of releasing stress and pain and that’s holistically through exercise and brotherhood/sisterhood. I’d love to endure some healthy pain through tackling the weights and breaking a sweat.
How can our readers follow you online?
Thank you so much for these amazing insights. This was truly uplifting.