The unemployment rate is at an all time high since 1982, so what could possibly be the positive side of so much economic chaos? Today I coached a man named Mike, he is a single father raising two children alone in the United States, separated from his wife who is still living abroad with their youngest son. Due to financial hardship, he cannot afford to go to see his wife and son or bring them home to him. Just a few years ago, Mike had a successful construction business in Myrtle Beach. He is well known for building beautiful custom homes, decks, marinas and remodeling home interiors. However when his mom became ill with cancer he turned his business over to his partner and moved his life and his children to New York City to take care of her. His mother needed medical treatment but she did not have insurance, so he sold his work trucks to cover the costs of her chemotherapy and medication. During his absence, his partner ran his business into the ground and then his mother passed away. Piled beneath his mothers medical bills and a lack of work, Mike is struggling to keep his life together, make a living and keep his hope alive.
My goal as I listened to Mike tell me his story was to help him focus his energy beyond what he had lost, beyond his material possessions and his concerns so that he could focus on his goals and create his new strategy for success.
The other day my neighbor asked me if I could babysit her five week old son for her while she went to dinner with her husband. So as I was watching him, this beautiful baby with big blue eyes and long eyelashes. Really sweet and lovable. As he smiled and giggled at me I had this thought as to how we as a society, accept that babies do nothing productive accept; eat, sleep, poop, coo, giggle, smile, etc. Their value is not based on what they do for a living, on what they own, what they buy, give you, how much money they have, etc. Look at your own children; you just love them for being a part of your life, for existing. Once upon a time you were just a baby too, and we forget that our value, our contribution to the world is not any less as a baby than what it is today. Our value as human beings is not diminished by a sudden loss of work because you have not lost your skills, your abilities or your education.
Life circumstances sometimes are beyond our control but we can control our perception and our attitude in how we will handle the challenge, even when we feel overwhelmed. Part of being able to move forward, is loosening our grip on what we may perceive as past failures. Someone once said, " You cannot move forward if you spend your life looking in the rear view mirror. Eventually you will wreck into something." Instead of beating yourself up for being human and making mistakes, we instead have to focus on the future you want to create. If you have been successful in your life once, you can be successful again.
Let me tell you a crazy but true story from my own experience about a benefit of being unemployed:
I was traveling around the United States working for a luxury apparel company. It seemed glamorous in the beginning, but the constant traveling began to lose it's luster as I found myself far removed from family, friends and the people I loved. On one occasion I found myself staying a the Hilton Hotel in the small town of Toledo, Ohio for five weeks. There was one mall in this town, lots of corn, a Hooters restaurant and a very large medical hospital directly across the street from my room which was located on the first floor.
Around 3 am one night, I woke suddenly from my sleep to the scent of a very strong chemical and sulphur type smell permeating the air and immediately felt nauseous. I rose in the dark with the intention of opening the window, which was a full six feet wide to let in some fresh air. As I pulled back the curtain, I heard a strange clicking noise and there before me were two men dressed in black attempting to pry open the hotel window to get into my room. I startled them by immediately clicking on the light, and they took off running. So I called security.
Security came down, called the Sheriff and helped me remove my belongings from the room. However what came out of their mouths was a very bizarre and twisted, sci-fi horror story about the attempted burglary of my hotel room. Apparently the burglars were not after my personal belongings but my organs! I discovered that I had been targeted because I was a single female, traveling alone on business.
Toledo, Ohio is the #1 center for Organ Harvesting in the country. They medically train thousands of people to harvest and remove organs for medical purposes; organ donations, transplants, etc. Unfortunately, during my visit, they had been having a few problems in their community; 1) The disappearance of tourists who were later discovered burned and dismembered with body parts and organs missing. 2) Medical Students selling stolen organs on the black market for money. 3) Satanic ritual abuse. Murder. Human Sacrifices. As you can imagine, I was freaked out and shocked to say the least. "Leaving my heart in Toledo" was never on my business agenda.
Naturally, I wanted to get the hell out of Toledo but it was too early in the morning to go to the airport, because it was closed and the company had not provided me with a rental car. Instead I called and woke up my boss, explained the burglary situation (minus the bizarre story) and told her that she either needed to move me to a different hotel in the morning or relocate me to Detroit where my other co-worker was staying so I could commute in. In the mean time I would have the hotel move my room to the mid level of the hotel for safety reasons. Once I was escorted to my room, I pushed the luggage cart and my 160 lbs of luggage up against the room door to create a barricade.
As I cut off the lights in my new room, I walked over to close the blinds of the window which now overlooked the entire medical center and incoming road. I took a deep breath, looked up at the north star and gave thanks to my angels and higher power for watching over me. Contemplating quietly in the dark, my attention fell upon a black suburban pulling up into the rear driveway of the hotel because it shut off it's lights and parked backwards. Out of what seemed like a dark hole in the ground, came a gurnee with a lifeless body, covered in a white sheet being pushed by a man. The car doors opened, two men in dark clothing got out and opened the back of the suburbam. Together, they loaded 'John Doe' into the back of the suburban. I tried to dial local law enforcement but the phone just rang and rang. The car drove off and disappeared into the darkness. For the rest of the night I laid awake thinking, "Wow. That could have been me."
When the sun finally rose, I went downstairs to pack up our portable company office which also faced the medical center. Out of curiosity I walked out the back door of the hotel to inspect the place I had seen the gurnee and the man come out of earlier. The exit was a tunnel, one that connects the hotel and the medical center underground. Seeing it made me realize something fishy is going on in Toledo and it appears that local law enforcement is turning a blind eye to the truth of a very profitable but unethical business. Let the truth be known, because this woman was leaving town.
Originally the company I worked for had told us the job entailed 70% travel, but in reality it was 100% travel. It had been nearly five weeks since my last trip home to New York City. So I was scheduled to return back for my weekend break. Lucky for me, while I was sitting on the plane my agency called to tell me the company I was working for cut my contract. Although I was now unemployed, I was quiet thrilled to get the hell out of Toledo. I was so excited that me and my organs were going home together! Yes, it was good money but my life and my sanity were more valuable to me than my job.
Sometimes when we experience great loss, we see things differently, we see the value of things we may have taken for granted. We see abundance in our life where it once went unnoticed but we have to look for those blessings and acknowledge them even when we are hurting or experiencing significant change in our life.
Tell me, what would you give if you could have more time with your mom?
Mike: Everything I have or could ever hope to earn.
Exactly. And your children would do the same for you.Now you are being given an opportunity to spend more time with your children. Where in the past, you constantly traveled for business. Now you have an opportunity to re-evaluate your life, change, grow and do things differently. Become a better parent, become a better man, a better business man. Look at all your skills, go over all your old jobs and look for ways to improve the gifts and talents you already possess.
Let me put it to you this way Mike, you are a professional builder.
If you build a beautiful house for me. And a raging fire consumes it. What do you do?
Mike: I have to tear out the old house, clear the land and re-build.
Well, it is the same with your life. It is time to come up with your blueprint to re-build.
Now my challenge for you, is all your new projects have to be sustainable and Eco friendly. I think you should get some magazines, poster, scissors and glue and have family time with your children to create and collage your "dream house" together this weekend.
Mike's eyes light up and widen: Now you have my head spinning with ideas.
Your like a walking gold mine man. Believe it.
Make sure to create your daily affirmations and stick them on your bathroom mirror so you can read them every day.Sometimes we need reminders of our personal commitments to create the life we dream of regardless of economic circumstances.
You were once a struggling student coming out of school; smart as hell with a passion for your dreams but poor and creative. Eating Spaghetti O's, Ravioli and Ramen Noodles waiting for your first job, your first big break. And you made it. Just pretend you are coming out of school all over again, but now you have the skills and knowledge you did not have back in the day which is a blessing in and of itself. You are a survivor; you made it once and you will make it again.
Dream big, wish bigger this time. The whole universe is listening.