I want to share with you a story:
There was a cheerful girl with bouncy golden curls was almost five. Waiting with her mother at the checkout stand, she saw them: a circle of glistening white pearls in a pink foil box.
“Oh please, Mommy. Can I have them? Please, Mommy, please!”
Quickly the mother checked the back of the little foil box and then looked back into the pleading blue eyes of her little girl’s upturned face.
“A dollar ninety-five. That’s almost $2.00. If you really want them, I’ll think of some extra chores for you and in no time you can save enough money to buy them for yourself. Your birthday’s only a week away and you might get another crisp dollar bill from Grandma.”
As soon as Jenny got home, she emptied her penny bank and counted out 17 pennies. After dinner, she did more than her share of chores and she went to the neighbor and asked Mrs. McJames if she could pick dandelions for ten cents.
On her birthday, Grandma did give her another new dollar bill and at last she had enough money to buy the necklace.
Jenny loved her pearls. They made her feel dressed up and grown up. She wore them everywhere–Sunday school, kindergarten, even to bed. The only time she took them off was when she went swimming or had a bubble bath. Mother said if they got wet, they might turn her neck green.
Jenny had a very loving daddy and every night when she was ready for bed, he would stop whatever he was doing and come upstairs to read her a story.
One night when he finished the story, he asked Jenny, “Do you love me?”
“Oh yes, Daddy. You know that I love you.”
“Then give me your pearls.”
“Oh, Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have Princess–the white horse from my collection. The one with the pink tail. Remember, Daddy? The one you gave me. She’s my favorite.”
“That’s okay, Honey. Daddy loves you. Good night.” And he brushed her cheek with a kiss.
About a week later, after the story time, Jenny’s daddy asked again, “Do you love me?”
“Daddy, you know I love you.”
“Then give me your pearls.”
“Oh Daddy, not my pearls. But you can have my baby doll. The brand new one I got for my birthday. She is so beautiful and you can have the yellow blanket that matches her sleeper.”
“That’s okay. Sleep well. God bless you, little one. Daddy loves you.”
And as always, he brushed her cheek with a gentle kiss.
A few nights later when her daddy came in, Jenny was sitting on her bed with her legs crossed Indian-style. As he came close, he noticed her chin was trembling and one silent tear rolled down her cheek.
“What is it, Jenny? What’s the matter?”
Jenny didn’t say anything but lifted her little hand up to her daddy. And when she opened it, there was her little pearl necklace. With a little quiver, she finally said, “Here, Daddy. It’s for you.”
With tears gathering in his own eyes, Jenny’s kind daddy reached out with one hand to take the dime-store necklace, and with the other hand he reached into his pocket and pulled out a blue velvet case with a strand of genuine pearls and gave them to Jenny.
He had them all the time. He was just waiting for her to give up the dime-store stuff so he could give her genuine treasure.
How many of us as followers of Christ claim to have our trust in Jesus? I mean it’s the “good Christian” thing to say, right? But do we really trust Him? Do we actually believe and live the words we proclaim?
I have spent some time lately asking myself these questions, and my response was sobering. When I got brutally honest with myself, I found that my actions and past track records had reviled that my trust had not been in whom I so religiously claimed but rather in my own petty efforts. That’s what they (your efforts) are by the way, petty, repulsive in fact, to God. I know that may sound blasphemous initially, but let me expound.
First, lets look at what the word “trust” means. According to Google the definition of the word trust means: 1 Firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. 2 Confidence placed in a person by making that person the nominal owner of property to be held or used for the benefit of one or more others.
You see, I grew up in church and in ministry so my life, to say the least, was lived on a stage, front and center, whether I liked it or not. Everything I did, said, or even thought was open for all to see and to my dismay, also to be critiqued. On top of that, I am an otter/retriever making me the ultimate people pleaser. I love people, I care about people, and I care entirely way too much about what people think. Life had become one giant production, leaving me desperately seeking the approval and applauds of my audience. I sought after anyone and anything that remotely sounded like a round of applause while claiming, “Jesus is my rock and in Him alone do I trust”.
Do you see where this is going? Silly me, I was so desperately searching for the approval and praise from everyone except from the only one that truly mattered. I didn’t really believe in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of Christ. If I had, I wouldn’t have wasted all those years in efforts in trying to become someone worthy of value and love, but would have realized I was created and born worthy.
When Christ shed His precious blood 2,000 years ago and rose again with the victory over death its self, He enabled you and I to wear the robe of righteousness and purity as if we had never heard words: sin and unworthiness. God only sees us as the pure and precious masterpieces he planned and created from the beginning because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We can’t do a thing to earn it because the price has already been paid; the debt is paid in full! So when I stated that our efforts are repulsive to Him, it was to make the point that if we truly trust in Christ, then we would already know that we don’t have to do a thing to earn his love or approval because we would know that Christ already has won that approval on our behalf. All we have to do is just be who God created us to be.
So how does this have anything to do with the pearl necklace story? It has everything to do with it. When you know you can whole heartily trust God because you have confidence placed in Him by making Him the nominal owner of property of your heart to be held or used for your benefit, then you can trust Him with everything you have and trust everything He tells you. Or like the story, anything He would ask of you. Most of the time I don’t understand why God is telling me to do something but because I trust Him, I know that whatever He is asking me to do is only going to lead me to the real genuine treasure that He has had all along for me. All I have to do is trust Him and give Him my best. But giving Him my best isn’t working to be my best but rather realizing that I’m already His best.
Do you believe you’re God’s best? He says you are; do you trust Him?
Prior to coming to The Journey Training I was irritable, controlling and severely discontented; I didn’t know what I wanted but I knew something needed to change. My life was steeped in fear coupled with the incessant need to please others; yet I remained empty with no direction or end in sight. As I mentioned previously, I needed something but I didn’t know what “it” was or how to achieve it, let alone discover it. Pretty hopeless, huh? Yes, I was.
When I entered the rooms of the Journey Training, I immediately saw beautiful and handsome faces to which I concluded “surely they wouldn’t be able to relate to an ex-convict and recovering drug and sex addict.” After all, they looked so pristine and trouble free I thought, but I was soon to discover that my terminal uniqueness was soon to be replaced with a sense of brotherhood and community I had longed for my entire life: the desire to be accepted and loved for who I was, not the illusory of what I assumed others wished or wanted me to be. I was in for a rude and revolutionary awakening. One that would ultimately provide me with a wealth of information and tools to help me discover my “it” in a real and meaning way which up to this point had been elusive.
In his book A New Pair of Glasses Chuck C. provides a very simple philosophy which is reminiscent of the Journey Training, consider now, “uncover, discover, and discard.” Unbeknownst to me I had no idea what I had gotten myself into because that is exactly what I experienced during that life changing weekend. So what does that look like, you might ask? Let’s consider them one at a time, shall we?
This is a frightening prospect for a chronic people pleaser like myself, but if I was going to begin a journey of health, wholeness and emotional sobriety this was where “it” had to begin. Imagine being in a room filled with virtual strangers, not to perform but to uncover making one’s self vulnerable, naked and exposed with no figs to cover a lifetime of hidden shame and guilt. Through clenched fists, a churning stomach and tear filled eyes, I did something I had never done before: I trusted someone other than myself with the truth of who and what I had been and it was the turning point for my personal journey had begun! Light was beginning to shine in my darkened tunnel called my mind.
On a giant poster board was the known quote by Albert Einstein which read “insanity is doing the same things while expecting different results.” During my discovery process I have added a slight adaptation to the afore mentioned quote “insanity is doing the same thing knowing full well what the results WILL BE!” Before coming into the Journey Training, it is safe to assume that I was insane. Perhaps not in the clinical sense, but emotionally imbalanced nonetheless. Journey taught me that I could not conquer what I was unwilling to face regardless of how scary it appeared. Looking back, it wasn’t what I was unwilling to face per se as it was, what I would discover once the mask(s) were removed. You see, my pain, in spite of its darkness became a comfortable companion for I had learned to manipulate, maneuver and mask the truth which kept me enclosed within a mental prison of my own making. By discovering I had the right to be myself, while forgiving myself and ultimately loving myself was a radical prospect indeed. One that was greater than the pain of my past.
King David once penned “Be still and know that I am God. (see Psalms 40:10a)” In a word “to be still” requires one to “let go” or “discard” former false systems of beliefs or perceptions. In Journey I was given a “contract” which is equivalent to receiving a new identity and purpose. Before I was dispassionate, fearful and weighed down by the guilt of my past and previous convictions. When asked how I perceived myself, I could only respond sheepishly “a jailbird.” Although I was walking in the land of the free, I was still imprisoned albeit the prison was a mental one instead of a physical one. However, by the end of the training I was smiling (genuinely) declaring: “I am a passionate free bird.” I gave myself permission to discard those old tapes which kept me defeated, discouraged and imprisoned. I was free to soar above my self-limiting perceptions.
It has been stated a journey of a thousand steps begins with one. This is not to suggest that it will be easy especially when you battle between your ears. But there is one thing that I can assure you and it is this: since that glorious weekend of uncovering, discovering and discarding, I have begun to walk in my “it,” I am a semester from receiving my college degree at 50. My marriage which at one time was on life support has begun to heal itself as I rigorously apply the tools learned in the Journey Training. The wounded boy who lived in fear has been integrated with his core self and is now living a life once previously believed impossible. And the results I lived to repeat have been traded in for the wonder of tomorrow. I am a liberated and passionate free bird. Now it’s time for you to discover your “it.”
Starting with Chick-fil-A in 1988 as a team member at Woodland Hills Mall and owning a franchise was not something I had aspirations to do at that time. I was an art major with no business skills other than a desire to succeed. After 25 years with Chick-fil-A, one of the most valuable lessons I teach young entrepreneurs is the art of having a mentor. I speak to thousands of people per year and I always ask the question, “Who is your mentor, who is your Yoda?”
Why do we need a mentor? As a father of six and employer of over 100 employees at Chick-fil-A, I see mentorship opportunities daily. Whether it’s someone who wants to move up within my company or with aspirations to start their own business, a mentor will help guide them in the right direction and give invaluable advice. I still look to my mentors daily for guidance on running my business or advice on being a husband and father.
What does a mentor look like?
Depending on where you are in your journey, it could look a number of different ways.
For me, one of my first mentors was a gardener at an apartment complex who I met when I was growing up. As a kid, life was hard for me. I grew up with extreme scoliosis, my mother was an alcoholic and, due to a complicated divorce, my father was out of my life when I was 13 years old. He invested time in me. He took us on hikes into waterfalls spent time with us when my parents did not have the time, or they were too drunk to take us out.
When I started as a cashier at Chick-fil-A, I was not savvy in business and had no clue how to get from where I was to where I wanted to be. I shared some of my concerns with someone I respected and he suggested that I read “Dressing for Success” written in 1975 by John Malloy. I read this book and it literally changed my outlook overnight. By simply implementing the action steps found within this book, I found myself overflowing with the confidence that comes with looking your best.
I even have mentors in my life, they probably don’t even realize their mentors. I watch them from afar, admire how they do business, and move forward similar to how they do it. They would know me well enough to greet me when I walk up, but not necessarily someone that I hang out with on a regular basis. Of those, Mart Green of Hobby Lobby and Chet Cadieux of QuikTrip, and Dr. Z (Dr. Robert Zoellner) are at the top of my list.
What kind of mentor do people need in their life?
We all need a mentor who has actually achieved success in the area of life in which we are seeking wisdom. Stay away from obese trainers and disheveled-looking style consultants. Just take a moment to ask yourself, “Who is currently doing what I am wanting to do?” or “Who has already achieved what I want to achieve?”
How do I find a mentor?
It’s not as hard as you would think. A successful mentor’s time is extremely valuable; so do not waste their time. I am a true believer that if you share your dreams, opportunities will show themselves. My system for connecting with mentors is fairly simple.
- Try to connect with someone and tell them you are available to meet any time, anywhere
- Ask for a meeting and make sure that you are focused on creating a sustainable and mutually beneficial “win-win” relationship with your mentor.
- Maybe you do need a mentor or coach. You may feel like an accountability partner will help. Clients take bigger actions, set bigger goals and think bigger when they work with a professional coach or accountability partner and The Journey Training can help you start that process.
“Who will be your Yoda?”
Do you ever feel like you are in the right place at the right time, yet you just don’t feel fulfilled? Has anyone ever told you that you are, “Looking at it all wrong?” Let me humor you with an account of my trip to the Grand Canyon and the lessons I learned on the way.
My 3 month old and I were smushed into a van full of missionaries and after 20 hours of driving we arrived at our destination – The Grand Canyon. Ahh! We arrived just as the rain was stopping. I made it! Now what? If I only sit in the van, I am at the destination. But am I enjoying the full experience of being there? No. Is my purpose of being there simply to check in on Instagram? No. Obviously there has to be more as to why I struggled to get to this destination.
So I got out of the van and stretched in the drizzle soaked parking lot. As I breathed that glorious air, I listened to the birds singing, the leaves rustling in the wind, and people ooo-ing and ahh-ing. Now I have arrived. But is this all there is? All I could see were some trees, a pile of cement blocks that marked off some parking, and overflowing trash cans – some view! Really? This is why people come to the Grand Canyon? I was not impressed and I wanted to get back into that van and head home, unsatisfied and disappointed. Maybe I missed what I was supposed to be doing. There I was, standing in a cement jungle a thousand miles away from my husband holding a fussy baby. UGH! I wanted to go back home. That was me quitting and giving up on the reason I traveled this far.
My friend saw me standing next to the van and said, “Hey, you’re looking at it all wrong. Don’t stand here staring in the parking lot! Turn around and see the beauty of the Grand Canyon! Come on. Look this way!” Well, let me tell you, once I turned away from the parking lot and focused on the Grand Canyon, I saw it – and it WAS beautiful! It was much more than I expected, and it took my breath away. The sun caught the last of the rain clouds and the most magnificent rainbow appeared! It beamed over the Grand Canyon from one ridge filling the entire sky all the way to the other ridge, brightly proclaiming that God keeps His promise! Finally, I was standing at the Right Place, in the Right Moment, and Facing the Right Way.
Looking in the right direction gets your eyes off of your parking lot of problems which can leave you feeling frustrated, irritable, wanting to quit, and going nowhere. Looking in the right direction can bring you to see the vastness of God’s purpose and plan for your life. While standing in that position with my vision refocused, my purpose became crisp and clear. I would have missed the rainbow if I had continued staring at the parking lot. But someone helped me adjust my focus and I didn’t miss it!
What is your Right Place? It is the place where God has led you. It could be a place of employment, a place to eat, a place to serve, and even a place for entertainment. Don’t miss your Right Place by staying home. And don’t be afraid to make adjustments once you are in that place.
What is your Right Moment? In the book of Esther it says, “For such a time as this.” In Ecclesiastes it says, “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.” Now is the time. You are in the right season, but are you facing the right way? Do things look blurry, unfocused and uncertain? Don’t be afraid to look around, turn around and see the bigger picture. There is a view that is much better than you can imagine by adjusting your focus.
I was in the right place at the right time facing the right way. You can be there, too.
Answer these questions: Am I in the right place? Is this the right moment? Am I looking at it from the right perspective? Do I need to change my focus?
If any of these answers were “YES,” consider attending The Journey Training to obtain the tools you need to refocus your vision. Like my friend who turned me around and changed my perspective, The Journey Training will come alongside you on your life’s journey to help you turn from a parking lot view to the Grand Canyon view. Come and see how your new vision of life can be beautiful and fulfilling. You just might find that you’ve been there all along…just not facing the right way!
When I was writing my book Lose Your Quit in 2011, I noticed something: that every experience I had on The Biggest Loser built on an experience before to create something completely different. I also noticed that these experiences were similar to experiences I had previously in my life. This time they were magnified by television and also, I believe I was better equipped to deal with them – maybe because I had visited them before.
Life is Fractal
Fractal Geometry is an amazing thing. When I first heard of it, I didn’t quite know what it was. Simply, it is a recurring pattern found in mathematics that is also found in nature. Wikipedia puts it like this: “A fractal is a natural phenomenon or a mathematical set that exhibits a repeating pattern that displays at every scale. It is also known as expanding symmetry or evolving symmetry. If the replication is exactly the same at every scale, it is called a self-similar pattern.”
I believe that life is built on fractal and self-similar patterns. I’ve heard that “history repeats itself,” which I believe is not only a natural thing, but it is a God created thing. First, let me explain Fractal Geometry in nature. If you look at a tree, there is a correlation between the distances between the branches on the trunk, and the twigs on the branches. That same mathematical pattern is reproduced in the veins on the leaves. It is also seen in everything from snowflakes, pine cones, and even in the meanders of a river. I believe it I also found in our lives.
I relate these situations in my life. The first home I can remember was a house in Del City, Oklahoma. I was four years old when we lived there. I shared a room with my two sisters, and my grandma lived with us. That house was HUGE! When I got married, I bought the house for Darci and I to live in. Let me tell you – that house is SMALL! 700 square feet to be exact! Two bedrooms, a living room, 1 bathroom and a small kitchen. It had no laundry room and a detached garage. Why did it seem so big as a kid, and so small as an adult?
Experience Shrinks Things (or does it?)
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I want to poke whoever wrote that in the eye! When we were kids, a simple, “What’s wrong with you?” can cut to the core. Maybe you thought, “there must be something wrong with me if they’re asking” or “there’s all kinds of things wrong with me.” When someone says that now, it has less impact on me, or at least I’d like to think it does.
In life, we experience similar pain at different points of my life. When we were asked what was wrong with us as a child, that can be repeated with “why did you do that?” or “that’s not what I would have done.” We even begin to ask ourselves that question: What is wrong with me?
When someone hurt me as a child, it made me feel a certain way. Since then, I have experienced other hurts that produced a similar feeling, and my actions and thoughts go back to that point when I was a child – along with the feelings. It makes me subconsciously relive that old hurt, and in turn I feel I am no further down the road in my life. In fact, I am much further along, and that self-similar pattern creates an opportunity for me. I can revert back to that child and react in a childish way, or I can use my experiences and deal with the situation in a different, healthier way – like I did on The Biggest Loser.
Respond, don’t React
When I was on the Black Team on the show, I found myself alone. My team had an alliance, and I wasn’t a part of that. To make a long story short, my team threw a weigh-in with the goal of self-preservation, and when they lost they planned to vote me home. And to top things off, Jillian Michaels – my coach – knew about this and coached them through it! I felt betrayed, and it took me back to the child that felt like I didn’t matter when all everyone talked about was his older sisters and how great they were. Every year, the teacher usually said, “You’ve got quite a name to live up to!” And guess what – I spent my entire life trying to live up to expectations that I had put on myself – that I could never achieve no matter what I would accomplish.
Each time I “revisit” an event that takes me back, I tend to react just like that child. I throw a temper tantrum, cry, feel hopeless, and if it makes me angry, I rage! I feel that these recurring events in our life – that are fractal in nature – are opportunities. They are opportunities for us to choose a different, more productive path for ourselves than we did in the past.
When I was betrayed on The Biggest Loser, I raged at first. Then I collected myself and remembered what my rage brought me in my past. I went back to when those events seemed much larger in my life. I wanted a different outcome this time! So I weighed my opportunities. I could punch Jillian out, or perhaps my teammates. OUTCOME: Jail. I could quit the show and give up. OUTCOME: Opportunity Loss.
I chose different. If I was the Biggest Loser of the week (lost the most percentage of weight), I was immune and they couldn’t vote me off. I chose to respond rather than react by kicking it into high gear and lapping everyone! OUTCOME: Record Holder for 7-weeks in a row double digit weight loss, and the Biggest Loser ever among the men of the show, and let’s not forget $250,000 and the title of The Biggest Loser! I’LL TAKE IT!