It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old…or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!
You never know when I might play a wild card on you!
and the book:
PublishAmerica (September 29, 2008)
Michael Taylor is an entrepreneur, author, motivational speaker and radio show host. He is happily married and currently resides in Houston, Texas.
Visit the author’s website.
List Price: $24.95
Paperback: 189 pages
Publisher: PublishAmerica (September 29, 2008)
AND NOW…THE FIRST CHAPTER:
The intention of this book is simple: I want to create a new paradigm of masculinity in this country. What I mean by that is I want men to recognize that some of the old ways of being a man in society no longer work. What is needed are some new ways of being a man that empowers men to become better husbands, fathers, lovers, and friends.
In this new paradigm, men will learn to embrace new roles as men, which I believe will help eradicate some of the social issues that currently plague our society. These issues include (but are not limited to) divorce, poverty, domestic violence, drug addiction, and fatherlessness. In my opinion these are the greatest challenges facing our country today.
I must admit that I am not an expert in this endeavor. I do not hold any formal degrees, and I definitely do not claim to have all the answers. Although I do not have any academic titles, what I do have is a strong conviction to share some of the lessons and principles I have learned that have helped me become a better man. My hope is that in sharing these lessons I can empower you to become a better man also. Once that happens, you can join me in creating this new paradigm of masculinity that I’m writing about.
As you read through this book try to imagine that you are listening to a trusted friend. I can assure you that my motives are pure, and I am definitely on your team. I want nothing more than to empower you to reach your full potential. Know that there will be things that I say that you may disagree with. At the same time there will be things that you may totally agree with. The key is to keep an open mind and listen to that still small voice of wisdom within you. Trust your inner voice as you read the contents of this book. Know that if you feel any discomfort as you read, it probably means that you are learning some valuable lessons. Discomfort is a sure sign of growth, and that should be the reason you are reading this book. There is a wonderful saying, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying.” Be committed to growing, and keep an open mind.
To sum it up, my intention is to start a revolution, not a revolution of physical force or control but a revolution of the hearts minds and spirits of men. This is an inner revolution whose time has come. I welcome you to the revolution.
So are you ready? Are you ready to engage in a new conversation with men? Are you ready to join me in creating a new paradigm of masculinity? I believe the answer is yes, so let’s begin at the beginning. This is how the conversation began.
When I was nine or ten years old I remember sitting down having a conversation with my grandfather. I remember telling him that one day I was going to be rich. When asked how I planned on becoming rich I replied by stating that one day I would own my own company, and that I would be a very successful entrepreneur.
Not only do I remember the conversation, I also remember the very strong conviction I felt when I made the comment. There was a part of me that intuitively knew that this was my destiny, and I was put on this planet to lead an extraordinary life. No matter what it took I was committed to making this happen.
At the age of thirteen I actually started my first company. It was a janitorial company in which I would go to different companies and clean up for them. It began when I was walking home from school one day and happened to overhear an argument between an employer and one of his employees at a local motorcycle shop. The employee was cursing and screaming and saying that it was not his job to sweep and clean up, and he was threatening to walk out if the owner did not get someone else to do the dirty work. I sensed an opportunity and walked up to the owner and told him I had overheard the conversation. I told him that I was willing to clean up for him if he would give me a job. The owner looked at me with a smile and asked how much I would charge for my services. I had no idea how much money to ask for so I asked him what did he think my services were worth. He put his arm on my shoulder and said he would make me a deal. He suggested that I go ahead and clean up his garage and after I was finished he would determine what my services were worth.
That seemed fair enough, so I began my task. I knew this was a golden opportunity for me, and I knew that I needed to do my best. Fortunately my mother had instilled a very strong work ethic in me, and I cleaned that garage as if I was going to receive a million dollars. It was absolutely spotless when I finished. I did such a great job that the guy that was cursing about having to clean up walked over to the owner and told him that he needed to hire me right then and now. The owner agreed, and I landed my first job. Our agreement was that he would give me five dollars each time I cleaned the garage. It took me approximately thirty minutes to complete my task, so in essence I was making ten dollars an hour. The minimum wage at the time was a dollar and sixty five cents an hour. This was like hitting the lottery to me. The good news was that the owner had a few friends that also owned garages, and I ended up having three or four different customers as a result of his referrals. My very first company was born. I was an entrepreneur even though I really did not know what that meant at the time. This was my first taste of capitalism and success, and I loved it. The company lasted approximately two years, and then I moved on to other endeavors.
In high school I really struggled with making decent grades. It’s not that I wasn’t smart; I was actually just bored. I had had a taste of entrepreneurship, and I could not see the correlation of getting a high school diploma and becoming rich. There was something in me that was pulling me to my ultimate destiny. I wanted to be successful, and I wanted it now!
During this time I was enrolled in a special program that allowed me to go to school half a day and then go to work. I did not participate in sports because I believed that the way to live my dreams was by owning my own company, so I invested every minute I could into
learning about the business world. Going to work was exciting and exhilarating. I would sit down and speak with managers and ask them questions about climbing the corporate ladder. I devoured books on management, motivation and finance. Reading and studying about business was a lot different from what I was being taught in school. As I read business books I was filled with a passion for learning, while in school I was unmotivated and bored.
By the age of seventeen I was attending seminars and lectures about getting rich and living the American dream. One significant event I attended was a motivational seminar put on by a vacuum cleaner manufacturer. I remember being mesmerized by the speaker. He had this amazing energy about him, and he was captivating and intelligent. His passion was infectious, and I seemed to fall into a trance as I listened to him tell the story of how he became a millionaire selling vacuum cleaners.
As I listened to his story I began to believe that I could do the same thing. As he spoke, all I could see were dollar signs and my huge mansion that I had dreamed about since I was a young boy. Was this the opportunity that I had been searching for? Was this my path to riches and fame? At the end of the seminar the presenter said two things that made me believe that I had found my destiny. Number one, he said that I did not need a college education or a high-school diploma to become rich. Number two, he said that all I needed was a positive attitude and a willingness to work harder than anyone else, and I would succeed.
I knew in my heart that I was willing to work hard and maintain a positive attitude. I also believed that I was smart enough to learn whatever was necessary to become a success. I then decided that I needed to seize this opportunity and not wait another moment to begin
fulfilling my dream. I made the mistake of deciding to drop out of high school to pursue my dream of becoming rich. Of course my mother was extremely disappointed in my decision. She did everything she possibly could to talk me out of it, but my mind was made up. I dropped out of school and began my journey to wealth and success.
So there I was: young, motivated, ambitious, and ready to take on the world. Although my mother disagreed with my decision she still supported and encouraged me to do my best. She told me to work hard and do whatever it took to reach my goals. As always, she loved and encouraged me even though she disagreed with me.
Have you ever noticed how mothers are usually right about major life-changing decisions? This time was no different. My mother was right. I had definitely made the wrong decision. After several months and over three hundred cold calls I never sold a single vacuum cleaner.
I was disappointed and dejected, but I still did not let go of my dream. I had to make some decisions about my future, and I needed to find a way to get back on track. The first decision I needed to make was whether I would return to school. Although I knew it was the right decision there was a part of me that simply did not believe that a high school education was important. I felt very strongly that if I really applied myself to learning about business I would ultimately achieve my goals. I told my mom that I wanted to pursue a full-time job instead of going back to school.
Once again my mom told me that I was making the wrong decision. She assured me that a high-school diploma was the first step in achieving my dreams, and I needed to secure my diploma before I did anything else. I assured her that one day I would receive my diploma, but the time wasn’t right. I wanted to break into the business world, and now was the time for me to do it. As she had done before, my mom encouraged me to get focused and make my dreams become a reality. Although she disagreed with my decision she provided me with support and encouragement. I assured her that I knew what I was doing, and that I would not disappoint her. As a matter of fact, not disappointing her was the main reason that I wanted to be a success. I knew that eventually I would make her proud, and once I became rich I would be able to give her all the things she deserved.
My journey to my destiny had begun. The first thing I needed to do was to find a job and start building my future. What I hadn’t anticipated was the fact that most companies aren’t interested in hiring a high school dropout. Although I knew that I was a fast learner, had a positive mental attitude, and was very dependable I had an extremely difficult time simply getting an opportunity to showcase my skills. Every company wanted at least a high-school diploma before I could even fill out an application.
After a few months I began to rethink my decision. I had no success in locating a job, and I knew that I was disappointing my mom and most important, myself. Maybe I should go back to school to get my diploma and then pursue my dream. Maybe I was just dreaming and needed to come back to reality and follow the status quo.
Although I had some doubts, I knew that I could not go along with the status quo. I intuitively knew that I could not give up on my dream, and no matter what it took I had to persevere and make it happen. During this time I had maintained my commitment of personal growth and development. I had continued reading motivational books and stories of people who had overcome great obstacles to live their dreams. These books helped me keep a positive attitude and kept the fire burning within me. As I read their stories I felt a strong sense that I, too, would one day overcome all of the challenges placed before me. I knew that one day I would be sharing my story of overcoming seemingly insurmountable obstacles and that my story would motivate others the way that their stories had motivated me.
I instinctively knew that one day my big break was going to come, and all I had to do was to keep moving confidently in the direction of my dreams. I became more determined than ever.
To make sure that I would secure a job I decided that I needed to call on at least five potential jobs or fill out at least five applications a day. Every day I would take the daily newspaper and begin my search. I would make phone calls and set up interviews. I would make cold calls to companies that posted help-wanted signs. I was a man on a mission, and I refused to quit. After approximately five months I began to feel as if my big break was just around the corner. Because of all the effort I had put into finding a job, I had become much more confident and comfortable with the whole interviewing process. It was as if I were practicing for my upcoming big break, and the preceding months were simply preparing me for my ultimate destiny.
After approximately six months my big break finally arrived. I was going through the help-wanted section and I ran across an ad that said, “Major building-supply retailer looking for salesmen. Starting salary 800 dollars a month plus commission.” I remember reading that ad and then calculating to see if I would be able to move out and get my own apartment with that salary. Although I had not even gone for an interview or filled out an application I begin acting as if I already had the job. I actually convinced myself that it was mine, and I was already making plans for building my future. I was excited because I somehow knew that I was going to get that job.
When I arrived at the company’s location all sorts of thoughts were going through my mind. Be articulate, listen attentively, don’t talk too much. be polite, be assertive, be confident. These were all things that I had learned through reading business and management books. The time had come for me to put into practice all of these valuable business lessons.
Although I had put all of these tips to memory, I still could not repress who I was and my personality. I have always been an extraverted optimistic type, and by some peoples definition, “ a little cocky.” So I wasn’t surprised at all by my initial approach. I walked into the store and asked for the manager. Unfortunately he was not available, so I had to speak with his assistant. As his assistant walked up to me, I extended a very firm and confident handshake, something else I learned from the business books.
I looked him squarely in the eye and began the conversation something like this. “Hi, my name is Michael Taylor. Did you know that today is our lucky day? The reason I know this is because today I am going to save you some money and at the same time I am going to make some money. Don’t you think that is a lucky day for both of us?”
The poor guy didn’t know how to respond. He had that deer-in-the headlights sort of look and he finally ask me what I meant.
So I responded, “Well, you see, I saw your ad in the paper today. And now you can take the ad out of the paper, which will save you a lot of money, and you can give me the job, which will make me some money. Don’t you think that’s a win-win situation for both of us? All of the business books teach you about creating win-win situations. I was so glad I paid attention.
The guy looked at me with a smile and told me that he obviously did not have the authority to take the ad out of the paper, but he did want me to fill out an application. As I began filling out the application I remembered another lesson I learned from the business books. That lesson was to always leave a positive impression. So after I completed the application I asked the assistant if he had a few moments just to tell me a little bit about the company and the position. I then took it a step further and began asking him about how long he had been with the company and what he liked and disliked about working there. After approximately thirty minutes I knew his wife’s name, how many kids he had, what he liked to drink, and who his favorite sports team was. We were talking as though we were old friends. I had definitely created a positive impression that I knew would pay off.
He then informed me that the manager would not be back for several days, and he would contact me as soon as the manager returned. I thanked him for his time and left the store feeling even more confident that I would get the job.
After several days I called back to ask if the manager was available. Time after time I was told that he was in meetings or on the phone, and he would call me back. He never did. This went on for several days, and I began to think that he was giving me the run around and had possibly hired someone else.
After a couple of weeks I decided to take matters into my own hands, and I went back to the store to try to meet with the manager. As I walked around the store I noticed just how busy the store really was. It was overflowing with customers, and the employees were all running around in a panic. After a few moments I noticed that there was an accident on the paint aisle, in which someone had dropped several gallons of paint, which was now oozing down the aisle. The employees were screaming at each other trying to decide who should clean it up, and no one seemed willing to put forth the effort. I immediately sensed a golden opportunity and tracked down the manager.
When I met him I immediately liked his personality. Despite all of the chaos that was going on around him he still had a pleasant disposition. I approached him, extended my perfected confident handshake and introduced myself. “Hello, my name is Michael Taylor. I filled out an application a couple of weeks ago and thought I would stop in to see if you had made a decision.”
He paused for a moment and said, “Are you the guy that was supposed to save me some money? My assistant told me about you. Sorry I haven’t gotten back to you; it’s been pretty hectic around here, and I simply have not had the time to review your application.”
“Well, sir, it appears that you could really use my help right now. I can see just how busy you are, so wouldn’t this be a perfect opportunity for you to hire someone who can help you right now? Someone who could take some of the pressure off of you and your crew? I’m ready to jump right in and help out if you’d like.”
“That’s a pretty good attitude you have, son. What do you know about the lumber industry? Do you have any experience in sales?”
“To be completely honest, sir, I don’t have any experience in this industry. But what I do have is a positive mental attitude, a love for learning, and a great work ethic. If you give me the job I know that I can become a great asset to you and your company.” (I learned that
line from one of my business books.) “As a matter of fact I’m willing to start at the bottom and work my way up if you will give me a chance. I’m even willing to go clean up that mess on your paint aisle that no one else seems to want to clean up.”
“What mess on the paint aisle?”
“You might want to go see for yourself, sir. I noticed it on my way in.”
As he walked toward the paint aisle I was praying that no one had begun cleaning it up. I had a feeling that if the mess was still there it would increase my chances of getting the job. When we got there the mess was worse than ever, and no one was doing anything about it.
“What the hell happened over here? Why isn’t anyone cleaning this up?”
“As I mentioned, sir, your crew is very busy. I’m willing to jump right in and clean up this mess if you’d like. All you have to do is say the word, and I’ll get right to it.”
“You really are persistent aren’t you? I may regret this, but I think I would like to give you the opportunity. I haven’t reviewed your application yet, but I’m willing to take a chance on you. I want you to go to the back warehouse and get some cleaning supplies and begin cleaning up this mess. When you finish, I will review your application, and if everything checks out you can have the job. Is that fair enough for you?”
“Absolutely sir. That is more than fair. I can assure you that you will not regret this decision.”
After several hours I had cleaned up the mess and gone a step further. I cleaned up and reorganized the entire aisle. When I had finished, the manager smiled approvingly and said that he was confident that I would do a great job. He said that he had a very good feeling about my abilities, and that I had proved him right with the way I cleaned up the mess.
At the end of the day he had reviewed my application and wanted to know why I had not finished high school. Initially I thought I would not get the job, but when I explained to him that I was possibly going back to school he said something that totally caught me off guard. He told me that he thought it would be a good idea for me to get my diploma, but it was not necessary for me to move up within the company. He said that the company always hired from within, and the person that did the best job would receive the promotions and the highest salaries. Now that I had my foot in the door it was completely up to me to determine how far I would go. He said that if I really applied myself I could create a really good career with this company. I was so excited I couldn’t contain myself. I was smiling like the Cheshire
Cat, and I could not hold my excitement.
“Thank you so much for this opportunity. I feel extremely confident that this is the beginning of a long-term relationship, and I’m really looking forward to growing with the company. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”
“I want you to be here tomorrow at seven a.m. Don’t be late. I’ll have your weekly schedule ready for you then. We will also discuss your salary and other benefits. Have a great evening and I’ll see you tomorrow.”
As I was driving home I knew that I had just received my big break. This was the opportunity that I had been waiting for. All of my dreams were about to come true. I was one step closer to fulfilling my destiny.
When I got home and shared the good news with my mom she had a sense of cautious optimism. She could tell how excited I was, and like any mother she began to drill me with questions about the company.
“How much are they going to pay you she asked?”
“The ad said that they pay 800 dollars a month plus commission. We are going to talk about the specifics tomorrow. The good news is that it’s a full-time job with lots of benefits and room for advancement. The manager said that there is even a possibility that I can move into management.”
“You should be very careful. A lot of companies will tell you certain things at the beginning just to get you to work hard. Then some of them will not keep up their end of the bargain. Did he say that you will need a college degree to move into management?”
“That’s the really good news. He said that if I work hard and proved myself I do not even need a high school diploma. He said that the company always hires from within, and now that I have a position with them I can make my own destiny. My success with them is
completely up to me.”
“I’m not sure if I believe that, but I’ll just wait and see. Congratulations on your new job. I’m proud and happy for you. Just remember everything I’ve taught you. Work hard, be honest, be smart, and care for others. If you do these things you will always be successful.
That night I could barely sleep. I couldn’t wait to go to work. I had my first real job, and I was ready to take on the world. I finally fell asleep dreaming of making my first million dollars.
The next day I made sure that I got to work early. I wanted to make a good first impression with my new co-workers. I immediately had a good relationship with the assistant manager. He and I became good friends, and he taught me a lot.
During the first few months I learned a lot about the company. I was excited about learning as much as I could. I became a sponge for information and devoured all of the information that I was presented with. I learned about plumbing, electrical, hardware, lumber, paint, and building materials. My favorite part of the job was customer service. I really enjoyed helping people with their problems and providing them with solutions. Great customer service was my specialty, and it wasn’t long before I was being recognized for being so customer friendly. I received my first raise within three months, and it really let me know that my manager was right about the company. Whoever worked the hardest would be compensated the most. My hard work was definitely paying off. Within six months my manager asked me if I were interested in their assistant-manager training program. He said that he was confident that I had the intelligence, drive, and determination to eventually become a store manager, and he wanted to do everything he could to help me achieve this goal. I told him that I was definitely interested and had set the goal of becoming a manager one day.
Everything in my life was going smoothly. I had a really good job, I had moved in to my own apartment, and I was learning a lot about the building-material industry as well as management. I was still reading tons of books about management and success, and I knew that I was on track to eventually live my dreams. Although I enjoyed working for this company, deep down inside I knew that eventually I wanted to be my own boss. I intuitively knew that this job would serve as a stepping stone to my ultimate dream.
After approximately a year I was offered an assistant-manager position in another city. Initially I did not want to move, but I knew that if I really wanted to get to the next level I had to go. I accepted the offer and decided to move. By this time I was really looking towards the future. I was on a fast track to success, and the next thing I decided was that I needed to start a family. I decided that it was time to get married. Although I was only twenty-one, I felt responsible and mature enough to start a family. As a matter of fact, my girlfriend at the time had a son from a previous relationship, and so I was marrying into a ready-made family. I felt up to the challenge, so I got married and started the next chapter of my life.
Once I moved and became an assistant manager the responsibilities increased, and so did the work load. But I absolutely loved the challenge. All of the reading and seminars I had attended were paying huge dividends, as I was climbing the corporate ladder. I felt confident in my ability to delegate, communicate, and articulate as a manager. I felt like a fish in water, and was very comfortable being in a leadership position.
Although my work life was doing well there were challenges at home that I was in complete denial about. Although I didn’t really feel that unhappy, there were several issues in my marriage that I really needed to address. The problems started with minor arguments about my working too much and focusing too much attention on making money. I rationalized it by saying that it was the only way for us to move up the social and economic ladder. I always argued that I was doing it for my family, and my wife should understand and support me. Instead of dealing with the real problems I simply worked harder at work and rationalized that whatever problems there were I could fix them by making more money and becoming a manager. I focused all of my energy on moving up the ladder, and within six months I received another promotion to a store in a different city.
I now had a reputation of being one of the best assistant managers in the company. The word was out that management was keeping a close eye on me and that I was on track to become a manager pretty soon. I continued to work hard and give a hundred percent; I knew that I was getting close. Approximately a year later I received the call that I was going to be a manager. Words cannot express the joy and feelings of accomplishment I felt when I received that call. All of the books I read, seminars I attended, late-night working hours had paid off. I was now a manager!
As I reflected back over the previous three years of my life I recognized that I had done what few people had done before me. I had dropped out of high school yet had succeeded in the business world and proved that anything was possible if I set my mind to it. I had overcome the odds, and I had won. I felt a deep sense of pride, but at the same time I knew that I had not reached my ultimate destiny.
At the time that I made manager I was only twenty-two years old. I was the youngest manager the company had had in its fifty-seven year history. It was a great accomplishment and one that I am still proud of today some twenty-four years later.
As a result of being promoted I had moved closer to my ultimate goal. I had gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in business, and now I would have an opportunity to apply the things I had learned. Being a manager turned out to be the highlight of my young life. I had gained the respect and admiration of my peers, and of course my mom was proud beyond words to see her baby living the American Dream. I had succeeded in my quest to become manager, but I knew that my life was just beginning. During this time I knew that I needed to keep my promise to my mom of getting my diploma. Although I knew that I really did not “need” the diploma, there was a part of me that felt like something was missing. I knew that I needed to fill this void, so I enrolled in a program to receive my GED. Although my mother was extremely proud of my becoming manager, without question she was more proud of the fact that I kept my promise to her and received my high-school diploma. I must admit that I, too, felt a deep sense of pride and accomplishment. Of course I knew that education is a life-long process. Although I had no intention of going to college I committed myself to lifelong learning. I knew that this was the key to my success. Even today I continue my commitment of constant and never-ending improvement.
At the age of twenty-three I purchased my first home and had my first child with my wife. I felt like a responsible adult for the first time in my life. With the home and child came all of the responsibilities of being a grown-up. Mortgages, insurance, car notes, and the responsibility of managing a multi-million dollar company were all new to me, but I was up to the challenge. I was able to take all of the knowledge and wisdom I had gained in pursuit of being successful and apply them to my life. As a result, the first three years went rather smoothly.
When I was twenty-six my wife and I had our second child together and on the surface it looked as if we were the perfect American couple. We had the house, the cars, the kids, the career, and everything society says we’re supposed to have to be successful, but there was something definitely wrong with our perfect family picture. The American Dream was beginning to turn into the American Nightmare.
I will admit that we were actually pretty comfortable for a couple of years, but then the economy turned for the worse, and there were several financial challenges that I had to deal with for the very first time. In addition to the financial challenges, there were still the unresolved issues in my marriage that I had been avoiding for a very long time. Those issues had finally caught up with me, yet I was still unwilling to deal with them directly. As a result of my denial my marriage began to unravel.
As I write this I am speaking from the point of retrospective reflection. At the time, I was so focused on making money and having a career that I had completely distanced myself from my wife. Of course at the time I was completely unaware that I was doing this. I did not recognize that I was emotionally unavailable to her and that I was actually using my work as a way to cover up my own deep-seated emotional issues. What I know now is that I was not able to give her what she really needed: emotional and spiritual support and connection. She really didn’t care about the titles, the money, the house or the vacations. What she really wanted and needed was me. Nothing more. She would have been just as happy living in an apartment driving a used car without any participation in social activities. She simply wanted to love me and be my wife, and that was enough for her. But I could not comprehend or accept that. As a result of my own insecurities I attacked her and made her wrong for simply trying to love me. I rationalized by accusing her of not appreciating how hard I was working. I blamed everything on her and did not take responsibility for being a large part of the problem.
It truly amazes me how I could have been so blind. I should have recognized that I was neglecting her emotional needs. I should have known that staying at work long hours, even when it was unnecessary, was a sure sign that there was something wrong. I should have known that our marriage could not improve unless I decided to open up and share what was really driving my behavior. And most of all, I should have recognized that I had given her everything except that which she needed the most. Me.
But I didn’t know. I didn’t know that I was supposed to be emotionally available. I didn’t know that men were supposed to be emotionally and spiritually connected to their wives. As a matter of fact I didn’t have a clue what any of that psychobabble even meant at the time. I didn’t know; I didn’t know; I just did not know.
As a result of my not knowing and denial I distanced myself from my wife and ultimately ended up going through a divorce. I was in new territory for the first time in my life. I had failed at something, and it was an extremely difficult thing to admit. Without question the most difficult aspect of my divorce was the overwhelming feeling of failure. My entire sense of self was wrapped up into the titles of manager, husband, and father and as a result of losing my family I lost my sense of self. None of the business books I had read prepared me for this. The time had come for me to move my life in a new and different direction because my life was definitely not working.
This is the point where A New Conversation with Men actually begins. I share that story with you because I believe every man can relate to it. We have all experienced disappointments and setbacks in our lives, and some of us are more resilient than others. The purpose of this book is to assist any man who may be struggling with life’s difficulties and are looking for a way to put their life back together. The reason that I believe this book is so important is that most men will not speak openly about the emotional and psychological challenges we deal with on a daily basis, and my hope is that this book can be a beacon of hope for any man who is ready to hear its message. I believe it is a book whose time has come, and I hope the insights and information prove valuable to you and your life.
Now back to the story.
As mentioned, my life was in chaos, and I was really struggling to keep myself together. All of the business and motivational books never prepared me for these types of challenges. There was no amount of motivation that could help me deal with the incredible amount of loss and suffering I was going through. My heart ached, my mind was cloudy, and my soul felt split in half. I had lost all sense of my identity. My life was in a downward spiral, and I needed to get it back on track. But how was I supposed to do that? I was in unfamiliar territory, and it was extremely uncomfortable.
During the darkest period of my life I had an amazing epiphany. While sitting up late one night I was trying to figure out how to get my life back together. I was replaying all the events that led up to my downfall, and I could not fully comprehend what had actually happened. I concluded that I was really a good guy, and I shouldn’t be suffering the way that I was. I didn’t have a pity party, but I was really struggling with trying to find something positive to be learned from my failure. I tried to come up with something to be grateful for; all I could think about was being a failure.
But then the epiphany. I started to think about how I succeeded from the beginning. I reflected back on all of the books and seminars I had participated in. I replayed all of the events in my mind, and I remembered how I had been so committed to society’s version of success. I remembered how I had overcome many obstacles, and deep down inside I knew that if I could succeed once I could do it again. As I thought about all of my accomplishments and successes I realized that during this time I had actually lost touch with my joy. I had spent all of my energy building my intellect, but I had completely neglected my heart and soul. My work and my family life had become intellectual tasks devoid of any feeling or emotion. There was no happiness or joy in any part of my life. I knew that this was the reason
I was so miserable, and I needed to do something immediately. I then asked myself the single most important question I had ever asked up to that point in my life.
The question was this: “What if I take all of the energy and effort I have used trying to get rich, and take that effort and put it in to simply being happy?” This was the question that changed everything for me. In that moment something inside of me shifted. I knew this was what I needed to do, so I set out on a quest to become authentically happy with me, myself, and I. It was a decision that would set the stage for me to ultimately find my purpose and my passions in life. It was ultimately the question that would lead me back to my joy! Although it wasn’t easy, I can honestly say that I found that joy, and I am currently living my dream.
My journey to happiness began by my willingness to begin reading and studying different types of books and participating in different types of seminars. Instead of the intellectual, get rich quick, money making, management type books and seminars, I begin reading and participating in psychology, spirituality, and personal-development books and workshops. The difference was that these books and seminars challenged me to look within myself to discover the root causes of my behaviors. They helped me recognize that I was completely responsible for my own happiness, and the way that I would experience that happiness was for me to look within myself. I have come to know that the answer to every question we have can be found within us if we are willing to look deeply inside ourselves and find them. And although this is a difficult and sometimes painful journey it is the only way for us to get to a place of authenticity and freedom.
During this process I asked myself another question, which also led me to my ultimate purpose and destiny. That question was, “What does it really mean to be a man in today’s ever-changing society?” This turned out to be the granddaddy of all questions. It is the question that I have been trying to answer for the past twenty years. It is the question that challenged me to spend the last twenty years or so researching psychology, philosophy, metaphysics, religion, and spirituality trying to find an answer. It is the question that propelled me to become a writer, speaker, and radio-show host. I believe it is the question that every man in America should be asking himself right now.
What does it mean to be a man in today’s ever-changing society?
This is the question that I believe can and will change the fabric of the world. By being willing to create a new conversation with men I believe that we can eradicate the vast majority of challenges America faces. By creating a new paradigm of masculinity I believe we lay the foundation for a country that fulfills its declaration of being land of the free home of the brave.
This book is my attempt to change not only America but the world at large. I believe the time has come for us to embrace all of humanity and to work together to heal the planet. Men across the globe should be willing to participate in this new conversation, which ultimately should lead to a kinder, gentler, and more compassionate world. My belief is that the old ways of being a man no longer serve us, and we must create new ways of relating and participating with each other. This will not happen as a result of political or judicial means. It will only occur when we, as men, learn to embrace this new conversation that I am currently writing about.
In order for this conversation to weave itself into the consciousness of the world we must heed the advice of Michael Jackson. We must start with the man in the mirror and ask him if he is willing to change his ways. If he is, then the new conversation begins. Are you willing to engage in the conversation? Are you willing to challenge your deep rooted beliefs about what it means to be a man? Are you willing to look deeply within the man in the mirror? If the answer is yes, then you are already engaged in the conversation. As a matter of fact, if you’ve read this far that tells me that you are already a member of our revolution. The truth of the matter is most men are not ready for this dialog. Most men are content with living the lie and are too afraid to engage in this conversation. But if you are still reading that tells me that you are ready. You are ready for the new conversation, and that is reason for celebration. Welcome to the revolution; we’ve been waiting for you.
My hope is that this book becomes a guide for all men who are willing to live an extraordinary life. Despite all of the challenges facing our world I remain optimistic that there are better days ahead. Each of us must simply do our part by discovering who we really are and reaching our full potential. Once we come to the recognition of who we are we must then take our gifts and talents and share them with others. Sharing our gifts and talents while expressing our joy is a surefire way to transform our world.
My commitment to you is to be as open, honest, and transparent as I can be while sharing the lessons I have learned. I can assure you that this book comes from my heart and is written with the sincerest intention. As you read the contents simply listen to your own inner voice and see if the message resonates with you. The time is now for a new conversation. I’m glad you have decided to participate.
Just remember this quote as you read through this book:
Personal transformation leads to world transformation.
Transform yourself, and you automatically transform others.
Welcome to A New Conversation with Men!