The School Bus Test

school bus test

I’m going to be morbid for a second, but I need you to bear with me: What would happen to your business if you died today?

If your first response involves a few choice words, I assume your business would take a hit. While I think Affiliates are unique in the fact they run so many different aspects of their gyms, I do think we get caught up in that factor too often.

Yes, Box owner, you do a lot. I’m not saying you don’t, nor am I minimizing the work you do. But how often do you look at the bigger picture? How often do you look at why you’re doing this?

I’ve been talking about “why” quite a lot, if only because I’ve been reading Simon Sinek’s “Start With Why.” However, in the latest chapter he dove into the founders of different companies and how when they left, the crap hit the fan. Often, it was because the “why” was lost. So, he offered up the School Bus Test:

“The School Bus Test is a simple metaphor. If a founder or leader of an organization were to be hit by a school bus, would the organization continue to thrive at the same pace without them at the helm? So many organizations are built on the force of a single personality that their departure can cause significant disruption. The question isn’t if it happens — all founders eventually leave or die — it’s just a question of when and how prepared the organization is for the inevitable departure. The challenge isn’t to cling to the leader; it’s to find effective ways to keep the founding vision alive forever,” wrote Sinek.

So, that brings me to my question again: What would happen to your business if you died today? Would your vision survive? Would your why continue on without you?

Sinek explained this happens with a solid predecessor; and it’s not about his resume — it’s about if they get your why or not.

Now, I’m not saying you should start thinking about your predecessor necessarily. But, it can beg the question of whether or not your Coaches understand your why. It can hopefully ignite the importance of getting them to understand it.

“To pass the School Bus Test, for an organization to continue to inspire and lead beyond the lifetime of its founder, the founder’s why must be extracted and integrated into the culture of the company,” wrote Sinek. “What’s more, a strong succession plan should aim to find a leader inspired by the founding cause and ready to lead it into the next generation. Future leaders and employees alike must be inspired by something bigger than the force of personality of the founder and must see beyond profit and shareholder value alone.”

Are you the only one who understands the why in your gym? If the answer is yes, it is probably time to change that answer.

Heather is the editor for Box Pro Magazine. Contact her at