Hello and welcome to 2018 and 421’s inaugural blog! We’re glad you found us.
I must admit, I’ve been struggling with writing this first blog. I am not a writer by any real definition so the craft does not come easy for me. On top of that, I’m a perfectionist (in a bad way) so there have been many, many drafts that have been sent to the recycle bin on my computer. I’m not saying the drafts were necessarily bad, they just didn’t say what I really wanted to say.
When I set out to build 421, I knew a website with a blog was going to be key for me reaching the people I’m hoping to serve. Having never written a blog before, I sought advice from family, friends, colleagues and a myriad of so-called “experts” on line. Each person had their own ideas on what it takes to make a blog successful. “Make sure your first blog really grabs people and sets the tone for your business.” “A successful blog needs to be edgy, controversial, and in-your-face.” “Make sure your blog calls people to action – make them at least want to react to you in some way, if not buy something.” My favorite was, “For God’s sake, don’t talk about your alcoholism!”
Wait, what? Did he say alcoholism? Who in their right mind would start out a blog for a commercial website and budding new business by declaring he’s alcoholic?
Simply put, me.
The fact that I’m alcoholic is exactly why 421 exists. During my recovery I spent many days and nights examining myself and learning how to face, and then change, the ugly thoughts and dangerous behaviors that were trying to kill me.
I imagine some people saying, “Sounds a bit dramatic, doesn’t it, Chad?” Maybe to them. Maybe even to you. But not to guys like Charles or Kyle who were still struggling with addiction the last time I saw them. And certainly not to my friend, Michael, who passed away from his own struggles shortly after we both got out of treatment together.
But here’s the deal folks, in the months following my formal treatment, I spent untold hours walking untold miles around the lakes of Minneapolis trying to figure out who I was and how the hell I ended up where I did. In the process I learned about what my purpose is in this life that God has given me - that I was put on this planet to believe in people and to serve. Those who know me well will attest to that part of me.
Along the way, during those many hours and many miles, it also occurred to me that perhaps I could serve others best by sharing what I learned in recovery about personal change. What’s more, I realized, I have significant experience from my (former) career path in understanding people’s choices and behaviors through various forms of research. Why, I had even developed a model for a personal change process while conducting leadership and team development assessments more than a decade ago. When I coupled my recovery knowledge and my career expertise, I realized I had the foundation for a very real and powerful platform from which to help others.
As I started toying with the possibility of building a business around helping people change, I wrote the following as a part of my fantasy charter. It helped me understand what my purpose was in all of this. It’s still at the core of my personal mandate for service so I thought it fitting that it be included in this, 421’s first-ever blog.
I have a story of personal struggle with depression and alcoholism. My struggles were born of a series of emotional traumas and my own inherent human imperfections. Since May of 2015, however, I have been able to rebuild myself and my life through humility, willingness, and hard work. I have openly shared my story with hundreds of people, both addicts and non-addicts, alike.
After telling my story to other people they often share their own change stories with me. The interesting thing is that their stories often involve things completely unrelated to any form of addiction. I’ve talked with people about everything from the heavy stuff like mending relationships and changing careers to less dire things like biting fingernails and overindulging in coffee.
While I’ve heard of some successes, most people tell me they’ve struggled with getting themselves to try to make a change or, if they do try, they tell me they struggle greatly with making change last (e.g., yo-yo diets). I respond with something along the lines of the following:
“I believe you can make lasting changes in your life. You can become a better version of yourself and do better for others. But in order to do so you need to be WILLING to do certain things that may be contrary to your ways of thinking or to your personality, and this can be hard to do. (E.g., humbling yourself, becoming aware of and accepting imperfections, having an open mind, following a process, working hard).
In my case, I had to essentially tear down my old self and rebuild from the ground up. I had to challenge (and change nearly) everything I thought and believed about myself, other people, God, and life, itself.
Granted, my story is on the extreme side of change but you can make changes and achieve goals of any size and nature because the basic process is the same. I know you can because I’ve done it and I am nothing greater than you are. Whether you see them or not, you have significant gifts and abilities; the potential to become more than you are.”
The next question out of their mouths is usually, “How did you do it?” This is what I tell them. I had to:
AWAKEN – if you’re feeling out of balance or restless or dissatisfied in life, pay attention to those feelings. You’re trying to tell yourself something. If you pay attention to those feelings you can figure out what the “it” is that is causing your unbalance. I believe that, at some level, most people already know what that “it” is, they just need to consciously acknowledge it and the impact it is having on them and their lives. The “it” is usually an undesired behavior or unfulfilled ambition.
DISCOVER and ACCEPT the “truth of you” – how you think, how and why you act the way you do, and what you want out of yourself and out of your life compared to where you are at today. The way you are today is a big part of the reason why the “it” exists. This is very important to do but it can also be very difficult because it requires awareness, brutal self-honesty, humility, and courage to see and accept the truth about yourself. It was in this step that I had to come to terms with the reality of the way I was.
BE WILLING to do whatever it takes.
HAVE A PLAN and WORK HARD (then work harder). There’s simply no way around this.
Through intensive research and vetting in the real world, I have built on the four steps above to develop a deep and powerful understanding of the process of change and established 421 to share that knowledge and experience with you. As 421, we’d like to help you change a simple habit, help you grow as a person, or achieve a dreamed of goal. We believe in you and we were created to serve you.
Life is hard enough just trying to keep up with the status quo. Trying make a change, any change can be a real struggle. Especially if you’ve tried before and failed. Success is possible and we can show you the way. Welcome to 421. We’re changing the Human Experience!
Until next time, be good for yourself and do good for others!
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