President's Message: Stories for the Holidays About Strength, Courage and Dedication

Posted by Kenyon Gleason on 12/14/20 3:30 PM

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“Success doesn’t come by wishing and wanting… it comes by doing.”

I honestly don’t remember where exactly I saw or heard that. I must have been in a hurry though, because I wrote it just that way in my phone notes app… with no further explanation. I usually write more so I can refer back to it later. Regardless, the fact of the quote does not change – success requires work.

I’m in the middle of a book right now sent to me by an industry friend whom many of you will know. His name is Gene Lumsden, and the book is called “Grand: How to Take Your Shot at the American Dream.” Gene signed it and sent it to me a while back and I’ve been reading it now over the past few days.

I knew from many conversations with him that Gene had experienced a lot of success in his life, but I just didn’t know “how much” success, until I read his book. If you know him, you may know some of his history, but if you don’t, well, he’s the quintessential American success story. He didn’t get it by wishing or wanting, he got it by doing.

He served his country, he became a world-class trap shooter, he owned and ran businesses such as Legacy Sports International (and others) and today he’s still working hard as a consultant in the industry and could likely help you with your business if you’re interested.

I’ve made a bunch of highlighter marks in the book already and look forward to finishing it. He’s proof-positive that if you want something, you just go get it. You do it with integrity, tenacity, treating people the way you want to be treated, and with a strength of character. So if you’re looking for something to do over the holidays, go get a copy of Gene’s memoir. It’s a great read.

Dreams take courage. Believing in something, especially when the world challenges at every corner, also takes courage. Standing up to your enemies takes courage. But standing up to your friends? Well, that takes a special sort of courage.

Many of you know Shari LeGate. She works for Shooting Sports Industry magazine. Shari does a lot of writing and video work for them. I’ve had the privilege of knowing Shari almost since I started in the industry about six years ago. When I read something of hers, and it touches me, I try to tell her about it.

Well, here’s me telling her about it. She has a column in the December issue of “FMG Inside News” that hit me in the feels. Shari is also a super-accomplished person, including time on the U.S. Shooting Team, so she knows how to “hit the mark” shall we say?

In her column, Shari reflects on a friend who was getting down about the current situation we find ourselves in politically and socially. And her friend, I’m certain in weak moment (which we all have), was basically just saying it’s time to throw in the towel, give up and accept that our country is doomed to be socialist. Well, Shari’s courage backed her up, and she confronted her friend about this kind of thinking (not an easy thing to do), when she could have just brushed it off and walked away.

Sounds like the friendship is still intact, and Shari goes on to write about the importance of never giving up, never giving in and never quitting in our quest to have our voices heard and avoid today’s cancel culture. Words of wisdom. Words of courage. Words that bear repeating… often.

And finally, I want to share just a brief story about dedication. And as you may have guessed, it too is about someone from our industry.

Sometimes you know you have a great message. Sometimes you know that doing “the right thing” won’t be easy. But because you are dedicated to your purpose, you just take the leap.

Such is the case for Mike Sodini, the former head of Eagle Imports. Mike left his position at Eagle this past year, but he hasn’t lost his passion for firearms; he’s just re-focused that passion to helping bridge the gap between the mental health community and the firearms industry. He started the national group Walk the Talk America (WTTA), which I’ve been personally involved with. He’s now 100% dedicated to helping those who need it and may be too afraid or ashamed to ask for it. And we all know from history, or sadly in some cases personal experience, that the holidays are not always happy for folks.

Walk the Talk America is raising awareness about suicide, how to see the signs and how to do something about it. To see Mike’s dedication in action, I encourage you to check out WTTA’s website at www.walkthetalkamerica.org.

So why share these stories?

Firstly, because these are three amazing human beings who’ve done, and are doing great things for our firearms community. Whether in big ways, or small, they do it through strength, courage and dedication. Gene, Shari and Mike are examples of the power we have if we just put our minds to it. All are examples of how the American Dream is being lived out every day by those around us. Truly, you just have to put down the social media machines and… look.

2020 is coming quickly to a close (Whew, right?). So, what will be your focus or purpose in 2021? What can we all do in the next year to share our strength, courage or dedication for the good of this industry? I look forward to seeing the many, many ways you come up with.

May the season of Christmas bring you peace, joy and love. And may you all have a very wonderful and Happy New Year!


Until next time,

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Kenyon Gleason
NASGW President

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