BEHIND THE GRIND: Ryan Sutter

Let’s celebrate the hardest workers we know. At OXX our products are built tough to get the job done. We are inspired by the people that put in the time and effort to do things the right way. Whether they’re in the shop, on the job site, or in the field they continue to define hard work. We want to know what fuels them, how they got where they are now, and uncover what happens behind the grind. They are the leaders of the Herd, and these are their stories.

Ryan Sutter, a Lieutenant in the Vail Fire Service, had just finished hiking in the mountains when he sat down to talk with us. It’s pretty clear that Sutter is the kind of guy who is constantly pushing his body to the extreme. From his time on the field with the Carolina Panthers to completing the grueling Leadman Challenge, he simply refuses to quit. He’s taken on two Ironman Triathlons, the GoPro Mountain Games, and the New York and Boston Marathons . Once upon a time we saw him receive the final rose on The Bachelorette. Now Ryan and his wife Trista reside in Colorado, the perfect location to adventure every day. He saves lives and makes time to maximize his own life. Sutter’s drive and dedication inspired us to find us what really goes on Behind the Grind.

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From firefighting to playing in the NFL, your line of work is extremely physically demanding. How do you define hard work?

I think it’s something that’s challenging. Something other people aren’t willing to do. In my experience, it’s generally physical but that’s not necessary criteria. I think a lot of people work really hard in arenas that aren’t as physically demanding.

In my life most of what I would consider hard work is sweaty and dirty. It’s something that makes you sore at the end of the day.

It goes back to the cliche, that if it was easy then everyone would do it. That’s the defining line between average work and hard work. Hard work necessitates purpose. People aren’t going to go out and exhaust themselves for no reason, but with purpose they’re willing to put more on the line.

 

“Hard work is sweaty and dirty. It’s something that makes you sore at the end of the day.”

What inspires you?

No one really knows what they are capable of, so I’m inspired by the idea of maximizing my full potential. Whatever that is. The hike I went on today was an opportunity to go out and see something new. I’m constantly trying to get the most out of every day and see what is out there.

What does a typical day look like for you?
In the fire service, we have 48-hour shifts. On those days I’m running calls or doing training with the guys. Outside of work, I am almost always outside. Unless there is some sort of catastrophe happening that makes it impossible. In the fall it’s a great time for hiking or camping with the kids. Yesterday I went mountain biking and when it gets colder I’ll be skiing.

What is the best part of your career as a firefighter?
Being able to impact positivity into someone’s life who is generally having a pretty bad day is really special. To go into a situation where someone genuinely needs help, sometimes life-saving help, is a unique opportunity. Having a profession where it’s my job to be there for people creates a certain environment. You’re with guys who are grateful and go out and do that. I think the ability to go out and do something good is powerful. It puts a unique perspective on your own life. Sometimes being around tragedy and things that don’t work out well keeps you really humbled.

“The ability to go out and do something good is powerful.”

 

What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Being a father and part of a family is exciting. As far as physical achievements I just completed the Leadman. It’s a series of running and biking events that ends with a 100-mile run. It’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

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The Leadman Challenge consists of finishing a 50-mile bike, 100-mile bike, 10k and 100-mile run all over the course of a few months and almost all above 10,000 feet in elevation.

What do you aspire to accomplish in your lifetime?

That’s the question I always have going in my head. I’m 42 and I look back and I’m happy, but I’m trying to figure out how I can design a second half of my life that’s as fulfilling as the first. I’m actually starting a blog called The Hero’s Handbook. It’s inspirational storytelling that talks about heroism. To have the ability to care for others and not care about who they are is difficult for some people. You can go help someone without knowing anything else about them. You don’t care about whether they are male or female or black or white, you help them because they are fundamentally a human being. In my profession, it’s a given. If someone calls 911 you go. You don’t decide whether you’re going to help them or not. I think we all have the potential to act heroically and you may only have one opportunity. I hope this blog will inspire people to make that choice to act, as well as leave a bit of my legacy behind.

How do you take your coffee?
Just black coffee. I actually never drank coffee until I got in the fire service. I started out drinking it so sweet, imagine you have coffee ice cream and put it in the microwave. It was like dessert. Now just black.

If you had to give advice to the next generation?
I think people need to appreciate their lives and each other more. Life is short, and you’ve got to make the most of what you have.

Keep up with Ryan’s blog here. You can also follow him on Instagram and Twitter.