Recently I was invited by More Fearless Change authors, MaryLynn Manns and Linda Rising, to be a part of a virtual Fearless Change Campfire. I was asked to share a personal story about personal fearless change. Reading their book, I recognized several patterns of implementing change in my life.
My story began after I graduated from college with a major in psychology. I was trying to decide what my next move would be, including going on to get a master’s degree in psychology.
My father left the corporate world to go into business for himself. He purchased a Jan/San distribution business back in the ’60s. He had a sales territory that needed a rep and asked me if I’d like to take the position. I took the position and earned my “master’s degree” in cleaning, learning how to run a profitable business and manage twelve employees! More than that, I learned a lot about my father and leadership. He became a mentor (one of the practices of More Fearless Change). One of my favorite events was meeting my father for lunch to discuss business life.
I loved working with him. We became business partners with a yin and yang way to lead and manage the business. On Sunday, March 13, 1988, we both heard a sermon based upon the V-formation and its connection to creating a loving, nurturing community. I was intrigued by this message and went to the library to check out a book on this Canada goose behavior. On St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 1988, I shared this information with my father and told him that I thought we had a V-formation with our staff in our business. That was the last conversation I had with my father. He died that night of a massive heart attack.
Easter came on April 3rd and I was deep in the grief of my father’s death and very angry with God. I would have nothing to do with showing up at church in my Sunday best. I did wake up early on that Easter morning and walked down from our home to the Miami River in Dayton, OH, to attend an Easter sunrise service. As I got close to the river, I heard loud honking overhead. I looked up and saw an incredibly large V-formation!
I was speechless, teary-eyed, and humbled. I simply looked up to the heavens and said the greatest prayer of all, “Thank You!” I had just experienced the practices of The Right Time and Emotional Connection leading to the practice of a Time for Reflection, chapters in More Fearless Change.
I took over the principal leadership role in our business. That led me to the More Fearless Change practice of Go-To-Person. I created a board of advisors who challenged me on where and how I was going to lead the business. It also created the More Fearless Change practice of Know-Yourself and Wake-Up Call.
While I loved working with my father in our business, I recognized this was not the purpose of my life. I felt the call to organizational and leadership development. I left the Jan/San business to become the Venture Out! Director at Camp Joy in Clarksville, OH. This work was transformative and rewarding, feeding my gifts, talents, and passions.
My father’s death was a gift. It lead me to helping individuals and organizations learn, live, and promote “seizing the day,” leading to reduced ignorance and suffering and enhanced living.
“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell, The Hero’s Journey
Question: Have you had a “death” experience, literally or figuratively that led to your rebirth?