Under the Bar: A New Direction
I'll try to be brief, but for those who follow my log, you know there's a good chance this will end up being long winded.
I'm really not sure how to update what's been going on over the past few weeks, but I've always been pretty open with my log so here goes.
Over the past few months I've watched my father go from having a stroke to stroke rehab where he worked his ass off to walk. He was then moved to long term care to finish his rehab so he could finally come home. Things were progressing nicely and then went bad. This took him back to the ER and then onto more testing, ending with a diagnosis of advanced pancreatic cancer. With nothing left that could be done, he was moved to Hospice and passed one week later. This was two weeks ago.
For those of you that have been in similar situations, the worst part of it all is the week after the funeral. You go from multiple phone calls and updates per day with family, research to try to better understand what's going on, doctor appointments and trips to the hospital…to what feels like pure silence. The calls slow down and then stop, the research is over and the bag you packed that has been in your trunk the past four months is put away. Reality hits and it sucks, but it gets better.
I will say the last three months watching my father fight was a reality check in my values and what's really important in life. I learned more from watching and listening to my father in the past few months than any other time in my life and I'll be forever grateful for it.
One of the greatest moments in my life was having the honor of speaking at my father's funeral.
My mother has told me three times in the past week…
"I will not be the same person I was before Dad passed."
Each time this was stated I would ask myself "How?"
How am I different now?
Who am I and who will I become?
These are hard questions to answer during normal times - even harder today, but they are pondering enough to make me wonder.
How do you determine the value of a Father?
Is it in the number of vacations you went on?
How many times you tossed the football?
How many tea parties you had?
Who caught the biggest fish or tagged the biggest elk?
Is it how well you can use tools or play golf?
I don't know one tool from another, or what the numbers on each club mean. I don't like westerns, don't like to fish and can think of a hundred things better to do than spend a day walking around in the woods wearing camo. These were the things my father loved to do.
Now that I look at it, I have nothing in common with my Dad.
BUT- this is what made him a great father.
It was more important to him that I find MY dream and make it real. It wasn't to be his fishing buddy, apprentice or golf partner. He wanted to be a father and me a son.
What made him an extraordinary father was that he let me find my own dream and then taught me the values to make them come true.
These are some of those values:
*Stand up for what I believe in and not to back down just because everyone else thought I was wrong. I'm standing here today because I believed in him and he believed in me - even when everyone else didn't. I was taught that when decision time came, regardless of what it was, I had three options. These were to decide if I was going to go one way or the other, or just do nothing. If I was going to do nothing I also needed to understand that's probably what I would get in return. If I selected one way and failed then it is my responsibly to accept it and to never blame others. If what I selected succeeded, then I was thought to give credit to those who made it happen, as it was because of them I was put in the right place to make the decision.
In short: Always take responsibility and give credit where it's due.
*Never quit - If you start something - do it right and don't stop because things get hard. When things get the hardest is when you have to dig deeper and prove to YOURSELF what you're worth. As we all know, life is not easy. It may seem life is easier for some than others, but that's a huge assumption and one I was taught to never make. What I did learn at an early age is that it certainly wasn't going to be easy for me. I also learned that if I started something I was to try my best and never quit. I remember signing up for soccer and HATING it and wanting to quit after the first day. I was told that wasn't an option and ended up playing the entire season and HATED every second of it, but it set the tone for a value that has been one of the most important in my life. To this day I remember the conversation/lecture I had with my father when he told me quitting is never an option. I was taught that many people quit way too soon and have regrets later when they look back because they know they didn't give all they had. I was taught the only way I would ever know what I could or could not do was to push to the point where I wanted to quit...and press on. When I was 10, I was given a wallet card that read:
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about,
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than,
It seems to a faint and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up,
When he might have captured the victor's cup,
And he learned too late when the night slipped down,
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far,
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.
- Author unknown
*Put your family first. We all know this is easier said than done, but my father was a shinning example of this. While I could stand here and give example after example of the times and instances he put his family before his own self interests, it would still not do him, or this value, justice. There's one example that will stay in my mind for as long as I live. Shortly after his stroke we sent Mom home to take a break and informed Dad that Mom was going home to "pull weeds" and take care of other house work. I still remember the look on his face. It was a look of fear and disappointment. Maybe those are not the right words to describe what I saw. Maybe a better description would be the look of a man who was just shot in the heart. From the tears wallowing up in his eyes, to the look on his face, I knew right away we needed to change the topic FAST! I felt he was upset because she didn't make the trip up and remember thinking to myself that regardless of his feelings, she needed a break to regain her strength.
My brother and I made a trip up to Toledo to see Dad two weeks before he passed. The week before he was not "really there" and his mind was fading. The day we visited was a good day. He knew who we were and understood what we were saying. Once again we said we made the trip up to give Mom a break for the day. The two weeks leading into this were full of ups and downs, so she did need a break and we all knew it. As we spoke to him we told him Mom stayed back home to clean the house and "pull some weeds." AGAIN, there was that look on his face and the tears wallowed up in his eyes. I knew from before to change the subject VERY fast, so we did.
We stayed for about one hour and without thinking (because we didn't know the significance of it at the time) we said Mom would be back tomorrow and that she stayed home to "pull weeds." That awful look came back again and this time it hit me VERY hard. The times before I really didn't notice as much and didn't have the significance, but this time was different. I'm not sure why, nor did I know it would be the last time I would see him, but something was different. It didn't look selfish - it was hurt. Deep hurt, but I couldn't put my finger on it.
As we got in the elevator to leave I asked my brother…
"What does mom do when she is really hurt and upset?"
Without a second thought he told me...
"Pull weeds - everyone knows that."
THERE IT WAS! To my father - knowing the pain of his wife was greater than ANY of the pain he was going through.
There lay a man in his final days unable to move half his body, and barely able to move the other half. Unable to speak, in and out of cognitive thought, unable to eat, use the restroom, change the channel with the remote or push the button to get a nurse. A man I grew up thinking could beat anything or anyone. A man who had been through hell and back and never once complained. Yet, for him to know his wife was hurting, was like a bullet in the heart. Family first! This has been drilled in my mind from the time I was a child. That day…
It was burned in my heart.
Over the past few months I've watched my father display every one of these values in the highest regard and the only word that comes to mind is "integrity."
When you are stripped of your dignity, all that remains is your faith and true values.
I learned all I needed to know about my father in my first three years of life and in the last three months of his.
His values gave him a life of fulfillment and a family to carry on his legacy.
These same values have taken me from being the scared boy in the back of the class too afraid to raise his had, to a grown man that has given hundreds of seminars and lectures over the years. This one gives me the greatest honor. Not because it's about my dad, but because it's the first time I know he heard me speak…
He would be proud.
Am I the same person? Who will I become?
I'm not sure, but what I do know is today my heart is full of grief and my soul is full of hope. We all have a "six sense," "gut reactions," "intuition" and "hunches." I feel these come from the angles around us. My soul is full of hope because I now know Dad is there and our journey is not over…
It has just begun.
Other stuff otherwise known as life...
This is usually a great time for many parents, but can be daily hell for those who have children with special needs. YES, I hate that term as well, but it is what it is and how else am I going to explain it? It takes time to get the Individualized Education Program in place. Let me take that back. The IEP was the easy part this year because it was just modified based on the one last year. This took very little time. What takes time is getting the school system to actually do what they say they're going to do, how they say they're going to do it, and when they say they'll do it. Until they do it - it's all a mess. Phone calls to come in and help, having your son asked to leave the school for the rest of the day and one threat made to him that they would call the Police (this pissed me off WAY more than I can ever explain. While I'm trying to teach him respect for the police and that they are there to help - he is being threatened that they will take him away if his behavior doesn't change. We were later told this "works" for some kids. Are you kidding me!). This all sucks, but it's now on track and we all couldn't be happier.
Summer sucks for business, while at the same time we're investing a ton of money in future development and expansion. We're investing in new positions, warehouse and inventory expansion, and new technology. I've really downplayed this one. The number of decisions, time and money that we've all had to put into the new technology has been insane and there's no way I can express this in words. As you could guess none of this is cheap, but it's all necessary for the future of EliteFTS. I took my eye off of the ball (working capital) for a couple weeks and it tanked far below my comfort level. With my staff's help, we built a strategy and put it in place and two weeks later are right back where we need to be. It sucks, but we found a solution and will end up being in a better position than we've ever been in and will keep hitting record months.
While I was away with my dad's funeral, I had Bob Youngs meet with all my staff, so they could review me. They were allowed to speak and say whatever they wanted with zero consequences because I wasn't going to be told who said what. I was only told what my strengths and weaknesses were. At the same time I wanted Bob to gauge how well they knew what was expected of them, if they knew what we really do, and how well they work with each other. To say this was an eye opening experience would be an understatement and was another kick in the nuts. It sucked, but was one of the best business moves EliteFTS has ever made. We're having a very good year and now know how to make it great. I also now know how we'll take this company to the next level. There's a lot of work to do, but it's time and we are all ready. I also am now aware of my own weaknesses and WILL make them my strengths over the next year.
We've also had a full financial analysis of the company was done while I was out. This also sucks and will always suck, but it's always a good idea to have other people look over your books because they'll find things you don't see. Nothing here surprised me, but there were a couple things that need to be revisited.
Over the past few weeks every single time my phone rang, I didn't want to answer it because the news wasn't going to be good and it rang A LOT. If it wasn't one thing it was another, and this is just all the major issues. I'm not counting my car breaking down, losing my credit cards, new hot tub breaking, cable breaking, endless drama, poison oak, major vender issues, etc. While minor issues they do add up when combined with all the other things.
I did the best I could to stay strong, but one thing just kept building on another and pushed me into "dust mode." My diet went to shit and while I did train hard and a lot (many days included one hour in the weight room and over one hour of card) it only worked for so long. Dust mode hit and hit hard and I didn't want to be around anyone, didn't want to train, work or do anything except stare at a wall and sleep. Looking back, it was my body telling me I needed to take a break, rest, and regroup. After a week of not doing shit, I realized I had to get off my ass and begin putting all the pieces back together - not so much for myself at first but for all those around me. I learned you can still work and be responsible while still being "emotionally numb." You just work slower and have others review your work and thoughts before taking any action or making any decision. In time, you go from working slow for those around you using the help of others, to being back on track with more focus and execution than ever before.
I want to thank all of you who have sent me e-mails and messages over the past several weeks. There were so many of you I've never met in my life who wrote about how my log honestly has helped you overcome your own demons and obstacles. These messages were very humbling, while at the same time motivational and are the reason why I'm posting this now. I really would rather not post any of this, but if it can help one person then it's worth it.
The take away is we all have to deal with the shit life tosses our way and while we try to stay "strong" and be a "total badass" with "balls of steel" and tell ourselves we can deal with anything, the real truth is sometimes we all get knocked back on our ass and even knocked out. This doesn't just happen to you and me. It happens to us all. It's known as life and sometimes it sucks but as the old saying goes…
It's not how many times you get knocked down, it's how many time you get back up.
So, I'm getting back up and will be stronger than when I got knocked down.
What To Expect?
Now the real work begins. In my log I will lay out:
1) The processes I will be using to restructure the business operations for future growth based on the data I've received. This process has already begun and I will cover this in another post later. These processes also address my weakness that were exposed during my interview analysis.
2) Getting my fat ass back in shape. I've already contacted Shelby and am reevaluating my entire training program. This will be posted sometime next week.
3) My son's issues will stay personal, but I will say if you are in a similar situation don't EVER back down and make people accountable for what they are supposed to do. Never worry about how they'll feel or if you hurt their feelings. They have a job to do, so make them do it. If you do this, you will see a RADICAL change. My personal feelings on this are they have SO many other kids and issues to worry about and they can't care for them all. If you stand up for your kids it's my bet they will respect you for it because most parents don't care. When they see you do care and do want to work with them, their entire attitude changes.
4) I will also begin posting the programming I'm using for the group I'm working with in our weight room with the modifications that are being made for each person. Some are raw, some drug free and others multi-ply. Right now they are on week 7 of 12 and are progressing perfectly.
Ya, Now that was brief wasn't it.