It takes a certain amount of audacity to believe one’s life story could benefit someone else. It always seemed a bit narcissistic to even think such a thing–to consider my narrative contained magic. To believe, inside my adventure, another soul might be touched, be healed, be encouraged to get up just one more time. For that reason, this book almost never happened. I just couldn’t imagine my life being a blessing to someone else. I mean, I am just a guy. A regular ole’ Joe who never dreamed he would be the one that stood and said, I did it! Let me show you the way!
Seriously, when it was my turn to deliver a presentation in high school I would quietly make my way to the teachers desk and say, “Just give me an ‘F’ ‘cause I’m not doing it.” It’s hard to fathom the high school loser that I believed I was took the stage and spoke to hundreds at a Jack Canfield seminar. But I did.
The story I’m going to tell is about that road. The potholed, rocky, twisting, turning, cliff-hanger climb to find my vocation as a helper. An odyssey, admittedly made arduous by my own hand. By my unwillingness to look closely in the mirror and face fear. Therefore, it is a roller-coaster tale of soaring successes and sinking failures. Time and again. At twenty-six, I was a shareholder and Vice-President of a multi-million dollar corporation with all the toys–jet skis, snowmobiles, motorcycles and a beautiful home. Yet, it wasn’t long after, that I slipped into a black pit of substance abuse trying to medicate pain that money wouldn’t numb. And then, I rose again. And then, I fell again. Along the way I tried. Man did I try. I intellectualized and calculated, cried and made promises. I did all that I knew how and shoveled with the fervor of John Henry. But it was like pouring water through a sieve. The hole in my soul was not to be filled with just trying and I found no peace. Yes, I had temporary moments of reprieve, getting married, the birth of my two beautiful daughters, slices of joy that allowed me to believe my sun might one day shine. But for the most part I suffered inside a prison that I’d built.
Steven King once said, “You can approach the act of writing with nervousness, excitement, hopefulness, or even despair–the sense that you can never completely put on the page what's in your mind and heart. You can come to the act with your fists clenched and your eyes narrowed, ready to kick ass and take down names. You can come to it because you want a girl to marry you or becaus you want to change the world. Come to it any way but lightly. Let me say it again: you must not come lightly to the blank page.” So I won’t. I’m taking his advice and telling my story warts and all–the uncut truth. And believe me there is nothing I hate more than gratuitous stories of depravity, stretching the truth or even lies to sell books. There seems to be running contest to see who can best alchemize their pain. That’s not what this is.
This book is a way to say I understand. My darkest moments are like your darkest moments. “Trust me. Hold my hand. I know the way.” Not from an intellectual or esoteric perspective but rather pragmatically, because I’ve been there. Down in the dirt, stinking, foul, teetering on the brink of the abyss. Yet here I am cleaned up and shiny, ready to tell you how I did it. I don’t have grand aspirations for this manuscript. I don’t expect to sell millions of copies and be canonized in a Hollywood blockbuster.
My dream is a little smaller. Every bump, every bruise, the pain that I’ve lived will be worth it if only one person’s life is changed. That’s it. I’m shooting for one person and that’s you. May your life be forever changed by taking this journey through my life. May it light a blind corner you were about to take with too much speed. May it encourage you to look at your emotional closet, open it up and start cleaning with a new set of tools. Maybe you’ll pass it along to a friend who you think it’s perfect for. Or, when you’re done, send a blessing to whoever may find it and leave it somewhere conspicuous. Airplane pockets are a great place! More than anything, I hope it offers you ideas on how to face your biggest enemy and in turn maximize your most valuable asset.
By a country mile, fear is our biggest enemy. We all have it. It seems to be the standard human condition. We’re born happy, joyous and free. But somewhere along the line, a vine of fear gets planted and seems to creep commensurately with our disappointments. Mine was so big it almost killed me. A couple times. But if your willing to face it, turns out it’s nothing but the Wizard of Oz. Like a little purse dog that wouldn’t even break the skin if it did bite. So I imagine you turning the last page and racing to the mirror to stare fear down like Dirty Harry.
I believe that once you’ve dissected your fear a universal secret will be revealed to you just like it was to me. What’s the big secret you might ask? It’s on you! The ball’s in your court. It always has been. It always will be. You will understand that your are infinitely more powerful than you’ve understood. You’ll know that your rightful place is that of a creator–understand your circumstances as they are today, no matter how dark, can be changed. I hope you’ll see in the story of my struggles, my journey from chains to freedom, that I’m just like you. A regular ole’ Joe who’s life began to change on a chance email.
All creators need tools. A carpenter creates with hammers, saws and nails. A writer creates with dictionaries and lexicons. And likewise, I worked my way from darkness to light with a set of tools that I have included here in the text. They’re yours free with the price of admission. Use all of them or use parts. Personalize them the way you do your coffee or tea. Just use them! Henry David Thoreau said, “It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.”
This book deals with how we see. Audiences who haven’t heard me speak usually chuckle and think they’ve wasted hard earned money when I open with, “Did you know the number one thing that limits a blind man from seeing is his vision?” Oh how they laugh. But those laughs morph into inquisitive mummers when I follow up with, “Did you know the number one thing that limits a sighted man from seeing is his vision…”
That’s what this book is ultimately about. Vision.