I attended a networking event not too long ago. The room was fairly full of small business owners hoping, as I was, to make a connection that might lead to a referral. As this wasn’t my first rodeo, I have a well-practiced response to the inevitable question “So, what do you do?” I respond with “I help make peoples dreams become their reality”. That usually gets their attention. Everyone’s got a dream that they aren’t living. I then tell them that I’m a life coach that specializes in small business owners and addiction recovery. Occasionally I’m asked why I’m drawn to these two vastly different crowds. And if time permits I explain how they truly aren’t that different. See both have control issues, struggle with some semblance of life balance, and both really want something but the obstacles ahead seem so daunting. That’s where I can help. Sometimes I’m asked who my ideal customer is for each. They assume that surely there must be two separate lists and are shocked when I tell them in either case that I want to come alongside those that are seeking, struggling and/or scared.
Seeking – I love sitting down with those who have an idea or concept for a business but that’s as far as they have taken it. They have a wonderful end state in mind where their product or service will greatly supplement their current earnings or even replace it. They are seeking guidance though on how to start. What’s first, when and where often come up as well. This morning someone woke up with a dream of life without substance use. They too have this incredible end state in mind, but are in need of guidance as to how to begin. Both have usually sought out information on the internet only to quickly become disheartened by the glut of useless info out there. And so they both sit with unfulfilled dreams. Both are in desperate need of someone who has walked that path before. Who can show them the pros and cons of those different paths and walk with them the path they choose. Seekers are, in my opinion, the best because they are the most eager to try something new, to dare to explore, to strike out on what promises to be a wild and wonderful adventure. Find someone to help you begin.
Struggling – I feel especially close to those that are struggling. I know all too well the frustration of trying to break through to the next level and nothing seems to be working. I’ve also experienced the thrill of the big breakthrough and the resulting struggle of maintaining the momentum. Small business owners know the above scenarios all too well. There are a number of folks who also woke up this morning struggling with substance use. They’ve tried numerous meetings or programs with little success. They are doggedly determined to keep pushing on but they, like the business owners, are losing a little more faith each time they try and fail. Sometimes I meet folks who have obtained sobriety but are now struggling with the wreckage their use caused. Both they and the business owners are fighting to maintain the momentum. If this is you please know that there is hope; it can be done; don’t give up! Maybe someone with fresh eyes can help.
Scared – The third type I feel drawn to is sometimes but not always found in the above categories. They know what needs to be done and they are scared to death to pull the trigger. Take the business owner who knows that they need to bring on a partner in order to grow. They struggle with not the need, but relinquishing some control. Now before you go looking down on them answer this: How many of you would be scared inviting what might be a stranger in to help you raise your child… Change is scary but fear can be and should be overcome. I occasionally am asked to visit someone in the hospital or jail that is in the throes of addiction. They can easily see the need to change but are scared to death of the change required. Their addiction has been going on long enough that every part of their life revolves around it. They know that this single change will reverberate through their entire existence and they are terrified to pull the trigger. Again I know both scenarios all too well. The military taught me how to overcome fear and then awarded me with a medal for simply putting it into practice. I gladly share my story of overcoming both in business and my own addiction recovery with everyone. Fears can be met; there is no need to live in fear of the change.
If you have read this and thought “man Thom needs to speak with _________,” then pass along my contact info. My purpose in life is to not hoard all my life experiences but to share them. My passion is to come alongside those described above and help them grow.
All humans have, at the core of our being, a collection of values that guide our behaviors, actions and words. These values may have come from a variety of sources (society, church, family friends) but we have chosen a select few for a place of prominence to help guide our navigation of life. Now not all values carry the same weight. We also have an established hierarchy so that when faced with restrained resources (time, money, etc.) our core values or those that are highest in the pecking order get funded. All others line up in their respective place. For example while I value fun, I treasure providing for my family, eating and my home so the bike stays in the garage and off to work I go. All too many have never really considered their values, how they came to adopt them, what their rank order is and how they play their vital role in governing our behaviors and actions. What so many fail to realize is that anyone who cares to notice can easily see what those values are, their order and anticipate how you would react in a given circumstance. I love people watching, in short order I can tell a lot about a person’s values simply by watching their actions and interactions with life. For instance I can tell whether there is a cross or a kettle at the heart of you.Now you city folks read carefully for I’m about to learn you something!
ket·tle (kĕt′l) A metal pot, usually with a lid, for boiling or stewing.
Kettle folks have a special place they put every wound, every slight, every bad thing in their life. They open the lid and put it in and then begin to stew on it. They rarely smile (slows down the stewing) they rarely are thankful or grateful and are the quickest to point out the wrong (so as to have more for the kettle) in something or someone. Just like physical kettles, emotional kettles have a capacity or limit. On occasion kettle folks blow up and “spew the stew” on those around them often over a seemingly minute incident. Kettle folks are prone to fits of rage because the stew in the kettle is toxic and like eating something bad, it’s going to come out forcefully. They walk through life hating and often being hated. They telegraph to anyone who cares to notice that they store their wounds and hurts. Next time you are in Walmart smile at everyone you encounter. Kettles will not only fail to return the smile; they will look away from you. Go to a meeting room and, if it is large enough, there will be a kettle there. They may measure their sobriety in decades but they are so negative and bitter that you wonder to what end. Surely if they had continued their use, they would be dead by now and wouldn’t that be more desirable than what seems to be a miserable, meaningless existence. And the sad fact is there are kettles in every church of any size. They know the name Jesus but refuse to let him exchange their kettle for the cross.
The cross was a landmark event. On it, Jesus took all my sins on His shoulders and let them die with Him. All the times I had/have/will fail, He gladly bore. And three days later, upon leaving the grave, He sought out those who had run, hid and denied Him. Not to open the kettle and “spew the stew” but to let them know that He had risen, that the cross had accomplished its purpose, and there was now no need for kettles. Jesus could have opened the kettle and let them have it for their actions, surely He felt hurt, betrayed, wounded by their actions, but instead He let The Cross be at the core of Him. How can I do any less? Cross folks have the realization that not only am I forgiven but that I can and should forgive others. They are gracious and full of mercy instead of stewing. They are calm when kettles are filled with rage because they understand that the cross accomplished this for not only them but everyone else as well. They navigate life showcasing that the cross works, that it has transformed them and they telegraph this message to anyone who cares to look. By their actions they attest to the transformation in their life. Because He forgave me, I forgive you.
Now I need to let you know that I’m not there yet. I’m like many that have both. I don’t want the kettle but all too often I retain hurts for later stewing. I’m a work in progress; an exchange in process. What keeps me going is that Jesus promised His Cross is easy to bear the kettle I know from experience is heavy. I’m tired of dragging hurts around from people long gone and having it affect those currently in my life. I want and need The Cross. This begs the question… Which one are you? Which do people around you see? Because someone is always watching how you interact with others. Will they come away from that time of observation with “definitely cross” or “definitely kettle”.
Today we celebrate our independence. You may remember from your school days that on July 2, 1776 the Continental Congress met and voted to declare our independence. Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence which was unanimously approved two days later on July 4th. Perhaps at some point today you will reflect on those days in 1776. But have you ever stopped to consider why they chose July to embark on this great adventure? Did the founding fathers foresee the need to take a day off each summer? Did they desire to bridge the gap in holidays between Memorial Day and Labor Day? No! They simply decided that now was the time, today was as good a day as any to initiate a change. Surely some must have thought “why not wait till January 1; you know New Year, new us”. Others may have preferred to wait till after the growing season was done. “Let’s get the crops in and then we’ll address independence”. But they chose not to wait, to not postpone and instead begin immediately.
We should all take a note from our founding fathers. Now is the time to begin, today is the day to start. I meet many who have a goal or a dream but when pressed as to why they aren’t starting today; they begin with the excuses. “I can’t right now because…; Just let me….; I need to ____ first. Jesus encountered several who wanted to follow Him, just not now. In Luke 9:57 – 62 He refused all excuses and instead urged each to begin immediately. What did Jesus know that we don’t? That the time for excuses has past. We either do it now or let those dreams die away, crushed by the overwhelming mediocrity of of mere existence. I believe everyone is called to not merely exist but to thrive, live and truly enjoy each moment. And there is no better day than today to begin changing things toward that goal. All the excuses for not making your goals into reality are simply wasted effort that could have been put into making dreams happen. The time to stop procrastinating is now. Let’s begin that new adventure today. Let July 4, 2017 be the day you began your next adventure; don’t wait another day.
John Adams, one of the founders of our new nation, said, “I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore.”
Thom Straley - Thom is a certified life coach specializing in addiction recovery and small business growth as Aim Point Coaching. To learn more about Aim Point Coaching, visit Thom's website by clicking the link above!