How To Move Forward When Life Goes Sideways (Part 1)

Early in our marriage, Kathy and I moved to British Columbia where I completed an undergraduate degree. Leaving family and friends to live in a new province, go to a new school and start a new chapter was a huge decision.

But it didn’t take long for us to love the west coast and believe we’d likely stay there long term. Kathy started a new job, we attended a new church, made new friends and I looked for ministry opportunities while anticipating graduate studies after college.

But during the year I received a call from my home church back in Ontario and they asked if I would consider joining the staff.

Kathy and I took time to pray about it and talk with trusted advisors as we contemplated what to do. Though we loved BC and had plans to stay, we decided to go back to Ontario.

So a year after arriving in BC we packed up again and moved back to Ontario. We drove across Canada and actually arrived in town on a Sunday evening, just before the church service started (yes, that’s how long ago this was…the church had evening services).

We were warmly greeted but something didn’t seem quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it didn’t take long to discover something was wrong. After the service, it was made clear to me that the church had made the decision not to hire me after all.

Kathy was in tears, I was in shock and we really didn’t know what was happening. We went to my parents place while we soaked in the news. The car was still packed and Kathy suggested that we jump back in it and drive back to BC. My head was spinning as I tried to understand the immediate implications…we had no jobs, no home and most of our belongings were still on a truck somewhere north of the Great Lakes.

My parents offered to let us stay with them while we tried to sort things out.

A couple days later I met with the pastor who was to be my colleague to hopefully get some insight into why things had played out the way they did.

But truthfully I went away from that meeting with no better understanding. The best I can discern is that it was a financial decision but to this day I don’t know for sure…no one ever clarified it.

This was without a doubt one of the most difficult situations I had ever dealt with. We felt mislead, mistreated and it was a struggle to deal with it appropriately…whatever that meant.

It’s amazing what goes through your head when you feel like you have no where to turn and you feel completely lost with no sense of what to do. Maybe you’ve been there? Maybe you’re there right now?

In my darkest moments I had thoughts of revenge…I wanted answers…and I wanted someone to answer for turning my life upside down. I was also questioning God and wondering if I should walk away from ministry altogether.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Perhaps you’ve been in that place where there seems to be absolutely no good choice…no obvious direction…just utter lostness. This is where we were…so this is what we did.

We slowed down

Instead of reacting to the situation we did our best  to slow down, press the pause button and regroup. We didn’t make any significant decisions other than to remain as calm as possible. This didn’t happen overnight though, trust me. It was a battle.

We prayed

This was not as easy as you might think. I was hurt and angry with church leaders and with God.  I asked questions like, “What is going on? Why is this happening? and What are you doing?” Answers didn’t come right away either. God and I were having some pretty awkward conversations.

We did the next right thing

There were so many things we didn’t know or understand. We weren’t sure what to do, so we did the next logical thing. We found jobs. I worked that summer moving office furniture and Kathy got back into retails sales. We did what we needed to do even when we didn’t know what was coming next.

We forgave

Before you start thinking  “Man, this guy is so holy and spiritual”, keep in mind I didn’t want to do this either. This was extremely difficult for me. Forgiveness is a decision and a process and it’s optional. But anger and resentment would have eaten me up and destroyed any chance of moving beyond this otherwise. I knew I had to forgive for my own sake, for the sake of our marriage and because it was the right thing to do. But who was I to forgive? The pastor? The leadership team? The guy at the end of the pew who couldn’t look me in the eye? You can’t offer forgiveness to someone who doesn’t ask for it, but you can still forgive. I had to choose to release any resentment I was holding onto in order to move forward.

We accepted a new normal

Whatever we thought life was going to be like after moving back to Ontario, well, that was gone. A new normal was emerging as we continued to try to make wise decisions one day at a time. The future we had pictured while driving across Canada was changing right before our eyes. We could either be discouraged and give up or embrace a new direction.

We looked at the big picture

When we first learned of the turn of events, I immediately began to think about the long-term implications. Had I been on the wrong path all along? Had I become self-delusional to think I was going into ministry? Was God trying to tell me something I wasn’t ready to hear? Had I missed my calling? Should I go back to plumbing?

We took time to consider what God wanted to do in our lives and through our lives. Counselling and pastoral ministry was where I had been headed and I came to the conclusion that those things hadn’t changed. God was still leading us even when it didn’t feel like it.

We stayed

This was our home church…we got married there just 3 years before. And while most people thought we would cut our losses and leave, we decided to stay.

  • we didn’t go back to BC, we stayed where we were.
  • we attended weekend services.
  • we taught Sunday School
  • we lead a small group of young married couples (before small groups were small groups)
  • we just got involved like we would have in any other church

But it was like a Charles Dickens novel…”it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. The internal tension didn’t just disappear after a few weeks, but we did stay at that church for the next 8 years.

That Fall I began full-time studies at a Seminary in Toronto which turned out to be 3 years of the best educational experience I had ever had.

Like I said, it was one of the most difficult experiences of my life; Kathy’s too. But I’m grateful for how things played out. I wouldn’t want to go through that again, but I’m grateful for the result.

Next week I’m going to share another lesson learned through this difficult experience.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be?

Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

Did You Look Forward to Work Today?

3 Keys to Finding Fulfillment

For many of us, Labor Day signals the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year. While it might be just another long-weekend to most of us now, it began back in the late 1800’s as a labor movement to improve conditions for Canadian and American workers.

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My understanding is that the Toronto Printers Union was instrumental in creating significant changes. One of the issues they were fighting for was the introduction of a shorter work week; more specifically a nine-hour work day.

After 3 years of lobbying, the union went on strike and marched to Queen’s Park in protest. While changes were not immediate, the “Nine-Hour Movement” began to spread across the country.

Today, Labor Day may be more about celebrating the last days of summer, BBQ and back to school, than a tribute to the labor force of the past. But those early pioneers have had a tremendous impact on our current conditions in the workplace.

Has Anything Changed?

You’ve seen the statistics haven’t you? Over 70% of the employees dislike their jobs and find them unfulfilling. Why is that? I suppose there are countless reasons why people hate their jobs…here are some that I hear about.

  • a difficult boss
  • office politics
  • poor management
  • gossip between co-workers
  • never-ending drama
  • monotonous duties
  • endless meetings
  • unmet expectations
  • long hours
  • lack of boundaries between work and personal time
  • sense of isolation between work and company outcomes
  • lack of recognition/ appreciation from boss
  • not using strengths on a regular basis
  • boredom

Would you add anything to this list?

Finding Fulfillment in Your Work

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or discouraged at work, it could be due to any of the reasons listed above. But what I have learned is that fulfillment in our work happens when the following 3 things are present:

Passion: are you passionate about what you do? what do you love to do? what are you doing that causes you to lose track of time? do you love what you do?

Proficiency: what are you good at? are you confident in your abilities? what do you find easy to do that others find difficult? on what do others ask for your help? is there a clear connection between your abilities and your job requirements?

Profitability: do you feel appropriately compensated? are you making the income you hoped for or need at this stage of your life?

The challenge is finding work, whether as an employee or entrepreneur, that combines all three of these aspects of work. You can’t find fulfillment if only two of these are present.

Passion + profitability – proficiency = stress

Most people feel overwhelmed at one point or another, especially when starting a new job or business. But there are countless ways to improve your knowledge or skill level today. Formal education is only one way to do it. There is a book, podcast or online course for just about anything you can think of. This “First day of school” serves as a reminder that you’re never too young or too old to learn.

One of the best ways to manage stress is to be as prepared as possible. Set aside some time and money if necessary, and work on yourself. It’s a great investment. There is always more to learn so the process never really ends; embrace it. Never stop learning.

Passion + proficiency – profitability = a hobby

There are incredible stories of people taking their passions and turning them into a business idea. But not every hobby has a market. Sometimes a hobby should just remain a hobby. Maybe it’s so specific that it doesn’t lend itself to becoming a business. Or maybe, if you spent all your time on your hobby rather than Saturdays, it would become less fulfilling. Too much of a good thing, perhaps. Allow your day job to fund your hobby and your ability to enjoy it. That’s okay. If you’re not bringing home the income you want, maybe it’s time to consider a side job or business.

Proficiency + profitability – passion = boredom.  

Some people know when they are children what they want to do when they get older. Some struggle their entire lives to find their passion. But just because you are good at something doesn’t mean you should do it. Doing something just because you’re able to or because others expect you to, could lead to boredom and dissatisfaction. If you’re not passionate about what you do, why are you doing it? I’m not suggesting that you quit today. But we have access to information and opportunities like never before. It might be advancement with your current employer or a new role within your current company. Or maybe you start devoting 10 hours a week to a new business idea…put a plan together…take action.  Start something on the side that excites you and see where it goes.

What do you think?

Does your work bring together your passion, proficiency and income? Why or why not?

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

 

 

How Do You Measure Success When You Don’t Win?

If you’re a golf fan like me, you likely watched the (British) Open tournament on the weekend. I watched most of the final round which was basically match play between Phil Mickelson and Hendrik Stenson, which turned out to be one of the best rounds of golf ever played.

It was incredible golf. Both players played exceptionally well, probably their best golf of their careers during one of the most challenging rounds of golf…the final round of a major tournament. Shot after shot, these guys were in a class all alone on this day.

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Until this weekend, the final round of the 1997 British Open, featuring Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson was thought to be the best round ever played in the history of the game. It was named, “The duel in the sun.”

But even Jack himself argued that the round played by Mickelson and Stenson was even better…

Nicklaus wrote on Sunday: “Some in the media have already tried to compare today’s final round to 1977 at Turnberry, with Tom Watson and me in what they called the ‘Duel in the Sun.’ I thought we played great and had a wonderful match.

“On that day, Tom got me, 65-66. Our final round was really good, but theirs was even better. What a great match today.”

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Mickelson, who is 46 and considered old by PGA standards, was trying to become the fourth-oldest major winner and win his sixth major. His score of 267 was 11 strokes better than third-place and would have won 140 of the 145 Opens played.

Incredible golf. Which won him second place. 

Second place isn’t new for Phil though. In fact he’s been the runner-up in a major 11 times. 11 times! He’s like the Buffalo Bills of the PGA. (Actually Jack Nicklaus finished second a record 19 times in majors to go along with his 18 major victories). But you know what I mean. Well, if you don’t, The NFL Buffalo Bills played and lost 4 consecutive Super Bowls from 1990-1993.

And I heard words like “losers” and “failure” to describe the only team in history to play 4 championship games in a row.

Yes they lost 4 in a row but, failure?

I guess it depends on how you measure success.

When my children brought home report cards I was not only interested in the grades they received, but how they got them. Did they coast? Did they give it their best effort?

A “C” that they worked for was better than the “A” they didn’t work for. At least in my mind it was.

How we do something is as important as what we are doing, don’t you think?

That’s also why I enjoyed the golf on Sunday. Not only did I get to see two golfers playing at the top of their games, in the most pressure situation possible, I watched them play with class, respect and sportsmanship.

They encouraged each other, supported each other and even cheered for each other. And when it was all over, they walked off the 18th green with arms around each other. They had just battled each other for 5 hours and in the mix of joy an disappointment they did it with class.

I like that. I think that matters.

“How we do something is as important as what we are doing”

 I think it matters how you and I do things too.

I’m all about setting goals, reaching for new things, striving for something better. I’m all for getting the job done too. But not at all costs.

Another way of saying it is, the process for reaching our goals is as important as the result we’re after.

Marten Seligman who pioneered Positive Psychology, argues that we are only as happy as when we live by our values and strengths.

Sacrificing them to reach a goal will leave us empty and rob us of meaning. (More on this in my next blog post)

If Phil Mickelson or Hendrik Stenson avoided each other all day; if they never spoke; if they were critical of the other in the press; if they broke their clubs after a bad shot and found joy in the others’ misfortune, then the best round ever played would be less so. At least in my mind.

Why? Because how we play, how we work, how we treat others, how we respond to challenges along the way to our goals is equally important to the goals themselves. And to me that’s success.

Was Mickelson successful on Sunday? In winning his 6th major? No. In how he competed for his 6th major? Absolutely.

It was a round of golf I will never forget. And both players won.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? How do you measure success in your own life? I’d love to hear from you.

 

Feel like there is more to your life than what you are experiencing today? Not sure where to start? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

How To Get More Done in Less Time

I came across a statistic recently that suggested that the average office worker actually works about 90 minutes a day. A day!!! I had to read that again. 90 minutes a day.

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At first you might be asking, “Where do I sign up for that job? Get paid for 8 hours but actually only work 90 minutes? Sweet”

The obvious question is what are people doing the other 6.5 hours? Apparently the rest of the workday is spent on distractions like reading the news, surfing the web, socializing with coworkers, taking coffee breaks, checking emails, playing games, and daydreaming.

In a recent post I shared what happens in the typical workplace during the “dog days of summer” and it isn’t pretty. You can read about it here.

Can we just acknowledge that the era of the open concept workplace environment was a colossal failure? Yeah it may be seen as a means to foster collaboration and team unity  (or maybe just a way to save money by not building interior walls)  but I’m convinced that the shift to open concept work spaces have actually contributed to a less productive work environment.

Susan Cain, the voice for introverts and the author of “Quiet; The Power of Introverts In a World That Can’t Stop Talking” shares some insights here regarding the limitations of the new style of office management.

I think this phenomenon (working 90 minutes/day) takes a real toll on us too. Here are a few reasons why.

  • Work is a good thing and being less productive can lead to discouragement and frustration
  • If we aren’t putting in our best efforts, then we aren’t truly earning our paycheque
  • When we don’t get our work done in the office, we may have to take time away from family and other activities to catch up

Most bosses don’t expect that their employees are going to work for 8 hours straight, without a break. Besides being illegal in most situations its not realistic either.

But making the most of our time at work to me is less about fulfilling our bosses expectations and finding fulfillment in what we do.

I think job satisfaction is hard to find if we head for home each night with a gnawing feeling in our gut that we just didn’t give it our best. Or that we didn’t accomplish anything of significance.

So how can we make the most of our time at work (which can also free us up to make the most of our time out of work).

  • See work as a stewardship issue. Like everything else in our lives, like our homes, our money, our belongings, our time and our relationships, we have a responsibility to manage our time at work as well.
  • See work as a reflection of our relationship with God. The meaning of all we do, including our work changes when we see it as a spiritual thing, not just a task we have to complete to pay bills.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” Colossians 3:23

  • Break down work into smaller chunks of time. I’ve been trying to do this regularly and seeing good results. In fact I think you can accomplish more in a 90 minute window of time than you can all day if you do it well.
  • Limit your distractions during your 90 minute window. Avoid email, social media and people unless they are crucial to what you’re working on in that time.
  • Break down your work into smaller steps or tasks. Procrastination is often a result of being overwhelmed with the big project or final goal. Set clear steps to getting to the finish line.
  • Take a break. When your 90 minutes are up, stop. Take a break. Go for a walk. Get a drink. Stretch. Talk to someone. Take a nap. Then after 15-30 minutes, prepare for the next 90 minutes.

If you simply block off two 90 minute time slots for focused, purposeful work, you will be more productive than most of your co-workers. Don’t rub it in their face though. You don’t want your car keyed in the parking lot. But…

  • You will get more done.
  • You will feel better about yourself and the work you do.
  • You will have greater capacity to be present at home…rather than being preoccupied with what you didn’t get done at the office, you can arrive home ready to embrace your family.

What would it do to your work life (and home life) if you were able to block off 2-90 minute windows of time? For starters, you’d be twice as productive as the average worker. Suppose you had a super productive day and blocked off 5-90 minutes windows of time. You’d accomplish a week’s worth of work in one day. Maybe taking Fridays off in the summer becomes a possibility. Who knows.

Imagine what you could get done, 90 minutes at at time.

The key to having a more productive day starts with 90 minutes. Make the most of them and see where it takes you.

 

Feel like there is more to your life than what you are experiencing today? Not sure where to start? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Whose Life Are You Living?

I’ve come across this story a few times in the past and I want to share it with you today. I don’t know it’s origin but the point of the story is an important one for us to consider.

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 “An American businessman took a vacation to a small coastal Mexican village on doctor’s orders. Unable to sleep after an urgent phone call from the office the first morning, he walked out to the pier to clear his head. A small boat with just one fisherman had docked, and inside the boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish.

“How long did it take you to catch them?” the American asked.

“Only a little while,” the Mexican replied in surprisingly good English.

“Why don’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?” the American then asked.

“I have enough to support my family and give a few to friends,” the Mexican said as he unloaded them into a basket.

“But … What do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican looked up and smiled. “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Julia, and stroll into the village each evening, where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life, señor.”

The American laughed and stood tall. “Sir, I’m a Harvard M.B.A. and can help you. You should spend more time fishing, and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat. In no time, you could buy several boats with the increased haul. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats.”

He continued, “Instead of selling your catch to a middleman, you would sell directly to the consumers, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village, of course, and move to Mexico City, then to Los Angeles, and eventually New York City, where you could run your expanding enterprise with proper management.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, señor, how long will all this take?”

To which the American replied, “15–20 years. 25 tops.”

“But what then, señor?”

The American laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right, you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich. You would make millions.”

“Millions, señor? Then what?”

“Then you would retire and move to a small coastal fishing village, where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, and stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos …” Author Unknown

There are plenty of people willing to tell us how we should live our lives. Friends, family, culture. But what do you say?

Are you living the life God has designed you for? Do you have a clear plan and purpose?

“Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.” Proverbs 16:3

I imagine getting to the end of my life only to realize I lived someone else’s story, to be a devastating conclusion to it.

“The only thing worse than drifting without a plan is having your plans hijacked by someone else.” Michael Hyatt

Feel like there is more to your life than what you are experiencing today? Not sure where to start? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Making The Most of The “Dog Days of Summer”

I love summer. I love the heat, the outdoor activities, and the BBQ’s. But I have to be honest, I didn’t really understand what the phrase “dog days of summer” meant. So after hearing someone use it recently I looked it up.

“The sultry part of the summer, supposed to occur during the period that Sirius, the Dog Star, rises at the same time as the sun: now often reckoned from July 3 to August 11. 2. A period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.”

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It’s the last line that stands out to me. “A period marked by lethargy, inactivity and indolence (laziness).” Sounds like everyone just calls it a day, or should I say, calls it a month and gives up on being productive.

I came across some stats from the American Express Open Forum that support this summer phenomenon:

  • Productivity drops by 20%
  • Employee attendance drops by 19%
  • Projects take longer by 13%
  • Lunch hours increase by 2.6 times
  • Personal shopping during work hours increases by 200%
  • Searching for another job increases by 120%

Personal shopping increases 200%? Seriously?

These statistics have a lot of implications for us, in the workplace and in our homes. I suppose we can either accept that the summer is going to be a time of apathy or we can take steps to make the most of the season.

Here are a couple of suggestions to overcome the dog days of summer…

Go on vacation

Be intentional about taking breaks during the summer; whether it’s a week vacation or a long weekend, do it. You need it. Your employees need it, your family needs it. Have too much to do to take a break? Rest will actually increase your productivity. So even if you don’t want to rest, do it so you can accomplish more.

Darren Hardy says, that to increase your productivity, you need to rest. Of course, the value of rest and napping for productivity is everywhere today so that’s no surprise.

“Plan your play”.

Schedule activities that will help you rest, reset and revitalize. Being relatively new small business owners, we aren’t planning a 1-2 week vacation, but we are planning pool parties, long weekends and day trips that we know will refuel us and create special experiences and memories. Choose things that fit your schedule and your budget.

It doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive to be meaningful.

Be Present

This can be difficult anytime of the year but especially helpful in the summer. If you are working…work. If you are playing…play. Just don’t try to do both at the same time. Be fully engaged at work and fully engaged at play. Here’s the thing…everyone around you will know if you are or not.

Your kids will see you on your laptop or smartphone when you should be watching them dive into the pool.

Your co-workers will see you taking extended breaks, on your computer or at the water cooler.

Your boss will get the project late and perhaps not your best effort.

The other day I went for a bike ride with my daughter Megan. When we left our house we headed toward the lake which is essentially downhill most of the way. The ride back is twice as hard because we’ve been riding for an hour and it’s uphill but gearing down makes it possible to navigate those uphill climbs.

I think for many of us, we vacation or play like that. We gear down, but we’re still riding…in this analogy, we’re still working. It may feel a little easier, but we’re still peddling. We’re not resting, we’re working. Many of us play like that.

Stop it. Be present. If you’re working…work. Show up on time and don’t leave early. Don’t cheat your boss. Work hard. Then when you’re playing…play. Don’t try to do both. Why? Because you can’t. You can’t rest and work at the same time…you may think you can multitask (another false assumption) but you can’t.  If you continue to do this, your work will sabotage your play and your play will sabotage your work.

In a previous post I talked about how this can happen; you can read more about it here.

I grew up watching the show, MASH. A medical unit during the Korean war (conflict) set in the 1950’s. Mostly it was a comedy but in this particular episode everyone was experiencing a measure of depression because it was Christmas and they were far from home, with no end to the war in sight. Even Father Mulcahy, the unit chaplain was discouraged, struggling to feel useful.

After listening to all the complaints from his senior staff, Col Potter, as he often did, shared his timely wisdom…

“If you ain’t where you are, you’re no place.”

If you’re suppose to be working, but you are taking extended breaks, surfing the net instead of calling the client, showing up late and leaving early? Stop. Work.

If you’re suppose to be playing, spending time with family and friends but your mind is preoccupied with business, or you’re attached to your smart phone and you’re ignoring everyone? Stop. Play.

The summer can be a great time of year. It’s my favorite time of year. But it can also be a time of laziness and unproductive activity. A simple strategy to overcome this is to intentionally do two things; work and play. And when you’re working…work. And when you’re playing…play.

Enjoy your summer and get the most out of it.

 

Do you feel stuck, professionally or personally? Are you looking to make some changes? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Is It Time To Change Lanes?

Last month I was heading down the #400 toward highway #401 to visit family. I hadn’t realized that the usual 2-lane ramp heading west was reduced to 1. By the time I figured it out, the lane I needed to get into was bumper to bumper…and I was running out of time.

I looked for slow moving vehicles or a tractor-trailer hoping to see a gap in the traffic, to avoid missing my exit. Suddenly, I found it and made my move. As I signalled and moved to my right into the next lane, a car from two lanes over was moving to the left. And we both wanted the same space.

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I don’t know how much room was left over as we squeezed two cars into one length, but we managed to do it.

As I slowly continued on my way, I saw another car race past me, obviously trying to move into the same lane. That didn’t go so well. Horns were honking, arms were flailing and fingers were pointing (I’ll let you guess which ones) as somehow the driver found enough room to make his move. But not without a lot of resistance.

Life is like that isn’t it? And not just while driving either.

When we want to make a change, we can face resistance. Not everyone is on board with what we want to do. Some will actually try to prevent you from making the changes you want to make.

Donald Miller, said it so well in a recent interview with Claire Diaz-Ortiz he said…

“People will honk and flip you a finger when you get out of your lane.”

But Donald wasn’t speaking about driving, he was talking about his own experience.  He became a well-known author after books like “Blue Like Jazz” and “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”. What he has discovered over time is that some people like the Donald Miller of Blue Like Jazz but not the Donald Miller he is becoming today. He’s changed over time; he’s grown up, he’s gotten married and started a new business. But some people want the “old” Don.

I think that’s true for most of us. When we want to change something about ourselves, we face resistance, sometimes from unlikely sources.

And I don’t think it matters what it is really…whether it’s giving up something you think is bad for you, or starting something new that is good for you. Either way, we face resistance.

Why that is could be a series of posts itself, but here are a few observations

  • People don’t like change period; for themselves or for others.
  • People tend to seek the lowest common denominator when it comes to behaviour
  • People don’t like to see others do the things they wish they had the courage to do
  • People love to share their opinions (just watch your FaceBook feed)

Maybe you don’t want to spend every Saturday night drinking too much and wasting your weekend. But the people you do that with, will say things like, “Come on man, let’s go out. You’re fine. Just one more” They are resisting your change.

Last year Kathy and I left the security of our jobs, mine in pastoral ministry and Kathy’s in retail, to open a cafe and to launch my life-coaching business. Not everyone was on board with that decision. We faced resistance. We had tonnes of support too, but we faced resistance.

So whether you want to do less of something or more of something or something completely new and different, you will likely face your share of resistance.

So what do you do?

Well, I think you have two choices.

  1. You can get back in your lane.

You can decide that the risk of change is too great and settle for the status quo.

“In our careers, when we hear a horn honk or a finger, we go back into the traffic we don’t want to be in.”

      2. You can keep changing lanes.

You can push through fear, apprehension, doubt and resistance and continue on your way.

“People will honk and flip you a finger when you get out of your lane. But once you get out of your lane and into the next lane, they stop honking.”

Resistance can cause us to retreat back to where we were, or we can continue to change, knowing that once we do change, the resistance will cease. People will move on to the next thing.

So in what area of your life do you want to change lanes? The lane where the traffic flow is better and you know you’ll make more progress.

  • A new career path?
  • A better health plan?
  • A relationship you know is over but haven’t acted yet?
  • A dream you’re finally ready to chase?
  • A habit you want to break?
  • A behaviour you want to strengthen?

Changing lanes can be terrifying. Is there enough room? Is it a good fit? Will it take me where I want to go?

It’s my experience that when we have settled on the change(s) we want to make, they are worth going after. Like Jon Acuff has said, “Just do it scared,”

Q. What do you really want to do?

Q. What is the counsel from your trusted circle of friends and family?

Q. What will be the cost of not changing?

Are you looking to make some changes? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

12 Life Lessons From A New Small Business Owner

What I've Learned After 1 Year of Being The Boss

Do you ever find yourself daydreaming about things…things that you never tell anyone about? But you still dream and wonder…what would happen if?…what if it is possible?…what’s the worse that can happen? That’s often where the dream dies too. When we think about the unfavourable outcomes, they scare us back into reality.

Have you ever been there? Yeah, me too.

A year ago, Kathy and I made a decision to leave our jobs and open a cafe in Coldwater ON, a town of 1100 people. Yes, I think it was a risk. To some perhaps a great risk, even a bad risk. But we did it.

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We just celebrated our first year at Em’s Cafe and I’ve been reflecting on what it’s meant for us to chase this dream.

I’ve concluded that the lessons I’ve learned so far as a small business owner translate into valuable life lessons as well. So here is some of what I’ve learned after 1 year in business.

12 Life Lessons From A New Small Business Owner

You can’t underestimate the value of wise counsel. We never would have made the decision to leave secure jobs and start something that we had no previous experience in, without the input and counsel from people we trusted. The small circle of individuals who guided us were invaluable, and still are.

Do you have trustworthy people in your life? They tell you what you need to hear not what you want to hear.     

Starting a business is hard work. This seems obvious, but I’m not sure if we knew ahead of time what it would take, we would be so anxious to do it. Perhaps a little ignorance helps. We have never worked as hard as we have this past year and it was awesome.

I’m reminded of the season 1 “Frazier” episode when he was about to engage in a street fight with Mr. Mann. It was broken up be for it started and as he makes his way into a cafe he says… “Dad, dad, did you see me? My hands are trembling, my chest is pounding, my mouth is all dry and my legs feel like jello…I feel great!”

Accomplishing something important to you will likely be harder than you could ever imagine…do it anyway. 

You can do more than you imagined. So many aspects of the cafe were new to me: bookkeeping, staffing, payroll, ordering food, dealing with customers and vendors to name a few. But you won’t know what you’re capable of until you start. You can never foresee all the tasks, responsibilities and challenges that you will face as a business owner, but you will be able to do more than you ever thought you were capable of.

I’m convinced that most of us never reach our potential; don’t let fear keep you stuck…don’t settle for mediocrity. 

Even when you love your spouse you may have fleeting thoughts of killing them. From opening day, Kathy and I worked together, 7-days a week for over 5 months. (In October I launched my life-coaching business which meant spending fewer days each week at the cafe). Working 70+ hours a week together week after week can strain even the best marriage. We’ve had our moments for sure. Thankfully the occasional thought to commit a felony against the other was dismissed as we vented, sometimes screamed, but eventually talked and resolved our differences.

Conflict is a means to greater growth and intimacy. Don’t avoid conflict, strive to do it well.       

Not everyone wants you to succeed. It’s true. Some people will be surprised if you succeed and some may hope you don’t. There will always be those who want to discourage you from pursuing your dreams. I won’t go into the reasons here, but it’s good to be aware. Use their cynicism as motivation. But don’t let them too close either.

Proper boundaries can protect you from those who want to harm you.  

The people you surround yourself with make all the difference. The cafe would never have happened without the support of so many wonderful friends and family. Everywhere we look in the restaurant we are reminded of them. The space is so personal to us because of who were involved. So many contributed in so many ways; selecting paint colours, painting, wiring, plumbing, creating menus, furniture and more. 

Who you surround yourself with can make all the difference between success and failure. 

Success is not defined by money. We have people ask us all the time, “Has the cafe been successful?” I suppose most are asking if the cafe is making money. Sure as a business you want to be profitable, maybe in the beginning , just paying the bills. But that kind of success will be hollow and unfulfilling if that’s your only measurement. Our vision, from the beginning was to create a meaningful experience for our customers through a warm atmosphere, friendly service and great food & coffee (especially the coffee) and to have a positive impact in the community. If we are doing that, then we’re successful.

Zig Ziglar said, “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.” 

Our life is not about us. I was a pastor for 15 years, I’ve been a therapist in private practice, and I drove a truck for UPS before that. Now I’m a cafe owner and a life-coach. Each has been an opportunity to make a difference in someones else’s life. I may actually connect with more people as a cafe owner than I did as a  pastor?

Whatever you choose to pursue in your life, make it about improving the lives of others not your own. 

Generosity is contagious. We hopefully foster a spirit of generosity at the cafe. Whether a free coffee or lunch for someone in need, or a quiet conversation with someone who is hurting, you can never go wrong caring for others. Customers leave money with us to pay for others meals and we’ve seen other local businesses do incredible things too. To celebrate our 1st birthday this past weekend, about 10 Coldwater businesses teamed up with us to raise funds for the Men’s Lighthouse Shelter & Soup Kitchen, here in Orillia. It was incredible to see so many rally around a great cause.

You can create change and momentum by taking action and leading the way for others to do the same.   

You can’t do everything so do a few things well. Our goal at the cafe was to do a few things really well, rather than try to do a lot of things potentially with mediocrity. Even customers will ask for more; “When will you offer salads? Why don’t you sell bread.” My standard answer then is, “I’m not getting up at 3am to bake you a loaf.” Doing too many things can compromise what you want to accomplish.

Take time to consider how you want your life to look and don’t let other things crowd our the most important. 

Be clear on you you want to be. As a cafe we are not trying to be Tim Hortons or Starbucks, we’re trying to be the best Em’s Cafe we can be. Although I don’t mind when I hear our coffee is better than theirs. Is not about market share & profitability but about being the best version of Em’s we can be. Learning how to do that is a daily, on-going process.

Don’t try to be someone else. You’re not them, and you never will be. You are uniquely qualified to be you. 

So there you have it…12 life lessons that I gained from 12 months of being a small business owner. There are more to learn too.

Q. Did a particular lesson stand out for you? Why?

Are you looking to make some changes? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

 

When Your Work Stops Working For You

Have you ever been in a place where you are enjoying success in your career, but you’re miserable? Or perhaps you feel like you’re stuck in your current work with no options. Maybe you just made a lot of changes to get to where you are, and to make another move so soon seems unwise or maybe impossible. Or maybe the success you’re enjoying has helped create a particular lifestyle for you and your family, that could be in jeopardy if you were to make a change now. And you feel stuck.

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I’ve been there too, I really have. It can be a dark place, when you feel trapped with no apparent way out.

Today, I’d like to introduce you to a friend of mine, her name in Misty. I recently visited with Misty and she shared her story with me and now I’d like to share it with you.

Misty, grew up in Dundas Ontario. She was married and enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom with her daughter. Circumstances changed and eventually Misty went from stay-at-home mom, to being a single-mom, and being the sole provider.

Misty embarked on a job in the retail industry and enjoyed a lot of success. With her engaging, outgoing personality and strong work ethic it wasn’t long before she went from sales clerk to store manager to acting, regional director, responsible for an entire district.

This is alone is a great story. But there’s more I’d like Misty to share with you.

Me: Hi Misty, thanks so much for sharing your story with us today.

Misty: I’m glad to do it, thank you.

Me: Okay, let’s jump right in. Only a few years go, you went from being a stay at home mom to a career in retail. And things were going well for you there, correct?

Misty: Yes, I did enjoy the job and I did quite well. I moved up in the company and along with promotions came more responsibility and income.

Me: That’s awesome. What did you enjoy most about the job.

Misty: The people I got to work with, my immediate Team and my Corporate Team were some of the best people I have ever got to work with. I also love the competitive side of sales, it’s like adrenaline once you start seeing results you have to keep striving for even more. 

Me: So you liked the challenge increasing sales and seeing the store surpass it’s targets and goals. Well, you certainly made a huge impact on the store and the company as evidenced by the feedback and promotions you received.

Misty: Yes, it was rewarding to see the store and the staff excel and to have Corporate recognize the effort, of the entire team. 

Me: In recent months, things took a turn. Can you tell us more about that?

Misty: With a great team, sales were the easy part.  But the increased sales and greater responsibility, lead to greater demands on my time and energy. The amount of operational tasks involved in running a business, I always ended up staying late or going in early and so my home life suffered. My time at home with my daughter was reduced and when I was there, I was often stressed and not really present. Small things could set me off and I started to realize that while I was “successful” in my work, other parts of my life were beginning to suffer. My personal relationships suffered and my social life became almost non-existent. Work was beginning to take over my life, even when I wasn’t at work. All of that along with a daily commute to the GTA made for long days and made being a good partner and mom difficult because I was exhausted. I was becoming the kind of person I didn’t want to be and that was very difficult to see in myself. 

Me: I think a lot or people can relate to what you just said. So you began to make some changes?

Misty: I decided that I had to make a job change but of course there’s the obvious financial concern when leaving a job. It was a concern for sure so before I left I had to come up with a plan on how I was going to replace at least part of my Income. It takes some planning for sure.  I reviewed my personal budget and expenses, trimmed things where I could and put a new budget together based on some of the things I was exploring.   

Me: Can you say more about that?

Misty: Well, I love retail and the selling process with potential customers so I contacted a friend who was able to create a job for me that was closer to home with flexible hours that fit my life better. But I also decided to launch my own business from home. It in the early stages but I am excited about the potential it brings and the flexibility it provides already. Something I was not able to enjoy working in a retail/ corporate environment.  

Me: That’s awesome Misty. I love to see people take action and make the changes that are more in line with their values and the life they want. Did you always consider yourself to be an entrepreneur?

Misty: No, not until I started thinking about my job in retail management. Even though I worked for a corporate company I was successful because I thought like a business owner.

Me: That’s a great point. The skills that made you successful in retail management, you are bringing into your new endeavours including the business you are launching. What has been most challenging in starting your own business?

Misty: Just getting going and growing my team, I have to be patient and honest with people. I have goals to get people to sign up as distributors also and that’s been challenging because most people don’t really know where to start when making life changes or they’re nervous about making changes themselves.

Me: So being consistent, honest and setting goals have helped you get your business going. Great. What advice would you give someone who is considering a career change or possibly starting their own business?

Misty: Just be patient and confident. You have to get over what other people may think about what you are doing. You have to think outside the box to do well, so consider how you plan on being successful. Consider how you are going to balance your new job and new business with time for yourself and plan it out so that you don’t loose sight of that. 

Me: What have you learned about yourself in this process?

Misty: I didn’t think that I would be able run my own business. Of course you are nervous at first…excited but nervous so I guess I’ve learned some confidence. I think also I’ve learned that so many people are looking for opportunities to change their life. But you have to be patient. Most people are nervous and scared so I’ve learned to be patient too. In any business, if you love your product, love people and believe you can help them by bringing them together, you can have the confidence to keep going. 

Me: You’ve obviously made some significant decisions and changes in your life over the past few months. Did you do this on your own or did you have others alongside you?

Misty: I had a a close friend who was there with me but my boyfriend Brent has been an incredible support. He’s taught me tons about business and retail. 

Thank you so much for giving a glimpse into your life and for sharing your story. I’m sure it will inspire and encourage others. I wish you great success in all you do moving forward Misty.

If you would like to connect with Misty to learn more about the positive changes she has made in her life or learn more about her business, you can reach her by phone @ 905818 3052 or on her website mistyrose.myitworks.com

I appreciate Misty’s story and that she would share it with us. In part because she’s a friend and I’ve seen it unfold personally, but because I’m convinced her story reflects the story of so many others…maybe yours too.

Let me just mention a few takeaways.

  • If your work isn’t working for you anymore, you may have more options than you think. 
  • If your work isn’t working for you anymore, don’t just quit. Get input from trusted people. Surround yourself with people who have your best interests at heart. 
  • If your working isn’t working anymore, put a plan together and take action. Take the first step. 
  • If success in your work is having a negative impact on your family, friendships and health, it may be time for a change.
  • What has given you success in one job or career could serve you well in another entirely different job or business. Your strengths (personality, skills etc) are transferable. Think outside the box. I wrote more about this here.

Do you have questions about your work? Looking to make a career or job change? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

 

5 Reasons Why The “48 Days To The Work You Love – SEMINAR” Might Be For You

Perhaps you’ve heard these from people you know or you’ve made them yourself. In any event, the following statements reflect the very reasons you will benefit from participating in an upcoming

48 Days To The Work You Love SEMINAR.

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  1. “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” (I hear this from 20-somethings and 50-somethings)
  2. “I’m ready to start my own business…now what?”
  3. “I just lost my job.”
  4. ” My job search has been futile…I’m stuck.”
  5. “I don’t enjoy my job but I don’t know how to change directions.”

Do any of those resinate with you? Maybe someone you know or someone you work with? Statistics suggest the majority of employees are dissatisfied with their current work; maybe this is you too?

The 48 Days Seminar may be just what you are looking for to help you gain the clarity and direction you need to help you find the work you love.

In this 6-week seminar you will…

  • Understand what work fits your personality
  • Reduce stress and discouragement in your current job
  • Gain clarity about your calling and produce work that is purposeful and meaningful
  • Discover work that combines your passions, skills & personality

What can you do?

  1. Participate in the seminar. For more details on how you can be a part of this practical 48 Days Seminar click here.
  2. Share this link with someone you know will benefit from the seminar.
  3. Invite someone to attend the seminar with you.
  4. Fill out the form below if you have more questions about the seminar.