Eufaula, Alabama, Beckoned Me, Jim Balkcom
As I Imagined, A New Home and Career, Mike Travis
From Somewhere, Deep Within, I Was Able To Do It, Lora Hein
The Gift in the Bad Economy, Peter Jones
The Ever Present Voice of Doubt, Lynne Palazzolo
Share Your Story of Noble Purpose
Eufaula, Alabama, Beckoned Me
Call it trust in the universe, the perfection of life, that everything is occurring in its own right order, perfectly unfolding whatever . . . I call it trust in God, and for most of my life I have been practicing surrender to and being guided by that divinity.
As a young banker in Atlanta, GA, I was experiencing relative success, and I was simultatneously feeling called to another career. My background was combat duty in Vietnam and financial training in graduate school. My career restlessness generated viable options in Dallas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Charlotte, and other cities. As I endeavored to turn my decision over to God, in prayer, none of these lucrative opportunities seemed to fit. Two weeks before completing my notice at the bank, I received a call from a young engineer (and founder and, maker of the Humminbird depth, or fish, finder) from Eufaula, Alabama. Facts: 1) I had never heard of Eufaula. 2) My wife and I rejected the idea of living in a small (pop. 10,000), rural community town, 3) I was not technical, 4) I knew nothing of the industry, and 5) I didnt fish.
However, after much discernment and much time with the founder of this start-up, I accepted the position as Vice President. The founder, Yank Dean, died suddenly 11 months after I began. Six years later, I was able to convince a bank to lend me enough money to buy out the shareholders. The rest is history. Humminbird grew from 13 associates to over 400, from no market share to over 40% and revenues of $2 million to $75 million. In 1987, when the ESOP was liquidated, over $7 million was distributed to the employees.
People often ask, How in the world did you get to Eufaula, Alabama? I simply answer, By the Grace of God. He picked me up and put me down there. I prayed, listened and TRUSTED.
As I Imagined, A New Home and Career
The summer of 1999 my career was going well. I was a leader in a large Telecom in the D.C. area. Life outside of work was good with my wife and family. We lived in a peaceful suburb North of Washington D.C., and we were feeling restless and werent quite sure why? We were in a good neighborhood, but in our heart of hearts, we wanted a smaller town feel. We visited Colorado and Vermont, and we researched other locations - still no match. Then, one day my wife recalled a visit to Williamsburg, Virginia we made 15 years prior, and we decided that same night to visit the town the coming weekend.
We made the trip and concluded this was it. We immediately put our house in D.C. on the market and headed back to Williamsburg the next weekend for a more thorough visit. While in the town square, we received a call from our real estate agent
the house sold in only a couple of days. Our adventure was taking a very real and serious turn.
One small matter remained what about my career? I loved my work but not the corporate environment nor was I happy about a long commute. I visioned owning my own business, keeping my travel to a minimum. No easy task in a smaller, less than metropolitan, area like Williamsburg. Some said it wouldnt be possible. But, I believed that if I painted a picture in my mind of what I really wanted to do and how I needed to do it, it could become a reality.
We moved to Williamsburg, and I embarked on what was the scariest journey of my life. It felt like jumping off a cliff hoping that Id find my wings on the way down. The power of a dream? Today, three years later, my company is doing well, my travel is minimal, and we live in Williamsburg, and love it, as the small town we always dreamed of.
From Somewhere, Deep Within, I Was Able To Do It
The elementary school where I worked put together a team to apply for a grant. A sub-team of presenters was assembled to address different aspects of the proposal, explaining the merits of the aspect assigned to them to the judging panel. There was just one part left and I hadn't chosen, so I took the one I knew the least about. Since we all cared deeply about the project, I threw myself into learning as much as I could about my rather esoteric and very unfamiliar part.
On the day of the presentations we were all ready, prepared, and seated in order. The judging panel reminded us we had exactly 20 minutes to present. We'd known that and had rehearsed with that in mind: two minutes intro to the whole, 3 minutes for each of the 6 parts; mine was last. But some of my colleagues didn't limit themselves to what we'd prepared, and by the time it got to the person before me, we got the two minute warning. Then we got the 30 second warning. I had 30 seconds to do a three minute presentation I had carefully prepared about a subject I had not understood fully myself a week before. The prepared speech vanished from my mind. From somewhere, deep within, I was able to do it. Words spontaneously flowed, and I sat down. I was uncertain whether the voice that spoke through me had made sense or not. The judges thanked us. We were excused, assembling into the parking lot to reflect on our presentations.
The superintendent came over and slapped me on the back. "That was brilliant!" he said. The praise poured from others as well. None of them had fully understood this part of the project either, but my 30 second synopsis made sense to them. To this day, I still do not know exactly what I said. Yet from somewhere, the deep understanding I had reached through my commitment to tackle this unknown topic, for the sake of our shared dream, powerfully emerged. We received the grant, and several years later, out of this and many other inspired efforts of teachers, support staff, parents and students, the entire school won the "Golden Apple" award for Innovative Excellence in Education.
The Gift in the Bad Economy
As a new entrepreneur I follow my clients and my intuition in creating value for them as a design research consultant. With no limits to my job description Im free to engage work across all my capabilities. I am deeply grateful for this opportunity. My home/workplace is surrounded by the natural beauty of woods, field, and woodland critters, and is blessed indoors with my wifes artwork. I celebrate every day as a manifestation of following my own inner wisdom, starting the day with a good cup of coffee. Seemingly too good to be true, I find the joy in all of this, my job, and the purpose I embody by following where my work leads.
This is all the sweeter as just over a year and a half ago, the New Economy was sliding quickly into Bad Economy. My perfect job with a high-tech consulting firm was looking iffy. Almost half the North American employees of our global organization were laid off, or were on notice. Although busy, my projects were insufficient to bill out at 100% of my time. The signs of change were unavoidable.
A shift in purpose made all the difference. Who am I working for? My employer or myself? My boss or my clients? I realized that all my work resulted from understanding my clients and creating trusting relationships. My insight and execution was respected; perhaps I could do this on my own, as an entrepreneur? Striking a win-win deal with my company, I agreed to become a part-time employee, starting my own consulting shop, and thus, the gratitude for this life I lead and the serendipitous affects of a Bad Economy.
The Ever Present Voice of Doubt, Lynne Palazzolo
I knew the gifts I brought to others as a nurse. The only thing I ever wanted was to ease the pain and suffering of others. Perhaps this was a way to acknowledge and heal my own pain.
Standing outside of the training room, I looked into the room. The tables set up in a U-shape, manuals squared precisely with the name cards for the participants, it was perfect. This was the first time I would step out of the safety of the role of nurse, facilitating others in a team process to heighten spirit in our hospital.
Waiting for the workshop to begin, the cold, icy grip of Doubt came to pay a visit. The voice of Doubt said coldly, Why couldnt you just leave things as they were? Go away, I said, I dont have an answer for you. YES! exclaimed the voice of Doubt. Keep trying to resist me. Maybe hes right. Why couldnt I just be happy with where I was? God, what am I doing here? What made me think I could facilitate this course with a HIGH DEGREE of success? What if I disappoint these people, my co-facilitator? What if I make a fool of myself? I wondered.
I felt overwhelmed discouraged. Walking slowly into the training room, my co-facilitator looked at me with concern. Are you okay? he asked.
Can I tell him the Truth?, I wondered. NO! screamed Doubt, You cant tell him the truth. Hell think he chose the wrong partner. Lost and confused, I knew I was at the edge. Was I willing to take the next step? I closed my eyes and waited until my mind became still. In the stillness, I drew a deep breath, To tell you the truth, I am full of doubt and fear.
My co-facilitator nodded, acknowledging his own misgivings. Moments later one, then two, then three nurses and technicians entered the room, their faces mirroring back to me the commitment to healing that brought us all to this profession. My co-facilitator and I warmly welcomed them. Still others arrived. We reached out. We talked. Our voices blended together, creating a source of commonality. We created a comfortable space for them, and perhaps most critically for ourselves, to begin. I felt my earlier concern with ME and about achieving a HIGH DEGREE of success slip away. In rediscovering a sense of service to my colleagues, the mystery of healing began to reveal itself to me, once again.