Why We Do What We Do

Our Commitment Is Deep

This is where we could give you all the “blah, blah, blah” about all the corporate work or one-on-one coaching that we’ve done, the awards we’ve accumulated and the certifications we’ve received. But our combined work experience in the world of leadership, coaching, personal development, training and facilitation simply gives us skill sets to deliver meaningful programs to you.

It has very little to do with the “Why” we do what we do.  The “Why” is what drives us to do our very best to support you on your journey. The  “Why” is how we bring passion to every interaction and what makes us committed to your personal and professional growth.

The path is rarely easy and straight. While we know you can’t learn from our mistakes, per se, there are ways for us to help. We can provide you with tools, guidance and support to make your journey a bit easier, a bit more sure-footed and a bit faster.

So let’s us share more about why this is so important to us:

Below you will see a glimpse into our stories. We would like to share some key points and lessons in our own journeys. We all have a different path to take and our particular stories have brought us to do the work that we do. The work that we feel is our calling.

Your journey has crossed paths with ours in this moment. Is there a reason for this intersection, for this choice that is before you? We think that there are no accidents. But you decide for yourself.

Chris’s Story

Living life with humility grace humor and consciousness.  A few years ago that sounded to me like a steaming pile of B.S.

Yes it can happen but getting there, well…have you ever started to slip on the ice- stiffening up every muscle you have – your mind goes in slow motion as you brace for the inevitable impact of the non-forgiving surface you are about to become VERY intimate with  in a VERY short amount of time.  Then CRACK all the pain surges through your body as you slowly open your eyes, only to see stars circling your head.  Then you ask the dumbest question in the world, ”How did I wind up down here?”

This is my story in a nutshell. It’s about really understanding my authentic self at a very early age and then refusing to listen to that guy most of my adult life!  This is undoubtedly due to my blockheadedness.  Chuck 2.0 is what my family would say  (Chuck is my father by the way of whom I deeply love and yes … we all eventually turn into our parents.  But I digress.)

The universe gives us road signs. If only we took the time to pay attention to them.  In my case, I have had a dozen or more good ones but I’ll highlight just two.  Road signs don’t cut it for me by the way, I need more of a sledge hammer to the back of the head. The above opening paragraph is more of an account of an actual event that happened to me while attending a professional skiing event years ago.  Just tack on a few more MPH’s and you get the picture.

It resulted in four days in the ICU and nine days in the hospital.  The pain was so intense that I couldn’t fall asleep for 27 hours straight.  I lost 10 pints of blood. Oh and did I mention that this very active person was unable to move at all for fear of bleeding out in the middle of the night.  Good times I tell ya…good times!

During my quiet-alone-reflection-time, I pondered all kinds of stuff. When you think you might die, the thoughts are flying through your head: Does my wife really know how much I love her? I wish I could have given my father a grandchild. Does my older brother know how much I look up to him? Did I have a positive impact on all of those my life touched? Did my life matter? Am I going to walk again? Will my hospital roommate shut the hell up so I might have some more quiet time to think about this stuff?!!

You would think after that event, I would slow down, reflect, do something to improve my life and how I live it.  (If you immediately thought that – you clearly did not capture the essence of the blockheadedness comment). Nope, went straight back to a number of jobs that weren’t the best fit and that I wasn’t passionate about and then started living for the future I thought I wanted.   You know – making huge plans to make things better and bigger.  It’s the America way, right? That’s how we roll…or at least how I was rolling.

Then the universe said “Chris, you’re a bright guy – you just ain’t getting it yet!”  My wife and I lost our son who she had been carrying for 5 ½ months.  There is so much that I can say here.  It’s hard to put into words without tears welling up, as the memory is infinitely more painful than my brief stay in the hospital.  What I have learned to this point is invaluable: “Every moment life teaches you something – its up to you to learn its lessons!”

Remember when I said I really know my authentic self.  I do and always have. Sometimes it just takes a few kicks to the head to get reacquainted.  Here are a few “learnings” I’d like to share:

  • I married my best friend and when your best friend is in pain you sometimes feel powerless to help because you are hurting so badly too.  Get over yourself and focus on what you can do. YOU ARE NEVER POWERLESS TO HELP SOMEONE. EVER.
  • Being cautious can help you survive. It can also hold you back in so many ways.
  • Look for the silver lining in everything.  Some people (me) refer to it as “Seeing the opportunity – even in a shit storm.”
  • When in doubt, laugh!  You can’t be mad, pissed off, distracted or guilty when you do.   Damn its better then drugs when you think of it that way!
  • Live each day!  The sun comes up, wanders across the sky then sinks down the other side.  All kinds of stuff goes on in the middle of it.   Believe it or not, you have input on 100% of your day whether it went well or badly is how you perceive it!

So “Why” did I want to create RefuseOrdinary?

I’ve been through some tough spots in my life. I also recognize there are so many people out there that have been through far worse which gives me perspective. Life has given me a lot of training, experience, and tools- how I use them helps defines me. I consciously choose not to stay in my life’s dark spots by reflecting on what those “spots” have to teach me. I’m now not so “laser focused” in the future that I blow past the things I care about, because that “future” can go away in a flash. Now I live my life by walking through it in the present with a wonderful vision of the future and ready to embrace the change that life throws at me along the way.

I’m happily married. I’m blessed by recently having a beautiful baby girl. I love my family.  I’m in great shape. I have a great business partner. I’m using my strengths and I LOVE what I do.  I’m having a positive impact on people’s lives. Each day I appreciate what I have and I don’t dwell on the things I don’t.  I’m living my best life!

Then I said, “If I could package that in a bottle and give it to folks, you know, so they don’t have to go through all the crap I went through…”

Funny thing is – I had that conversation with Will Turner and he had a very similar idea and was embarking on his own, similar plan. Serendipity?

Will’s Story:

Sometimes it takes milestone moments to stop and reflect. For me, it was as the “Big 5-0″ was chasing me down. How could it be? Fifty seemed to come in a blink. Where did all the time go?

My 50th year was also the year I lost my Dad. His declining health and death was yet another reminder that life was short and precious. And further testament to what my Mom often declared, “Each decade seems to pass faster than the last.”

As the half-century mark loomed, the question that haunted me was “Am I living the life I want to live?” By all accounts, I had a good life. I was co-founder of my own business which I was passionate about, pursued my love of art through painting, was physically able to compete with guys half my age (and win), volunteered for causes that were meaningful to me, lived in a nice neighborhood, had good friends, was in a good relationship…from an outside view, I seemed to have it all.

And I knew that I could continue on my path and live a good life. But was I settling for “good enough” at the expense of “frickin’ amazing.” If I stayed on the same course for 20 or 30 more years, what, if anything, would I regret?

My path of discovery took me to New Zealand. Because in my 50th year, I decided I needed to kick myself out of my comfort zone. I needed to test myself in ways that would push me further than I had ever been pushed before. And the best way for me to do that was competing in Ironman New Zealand.

The ultimate endurance challenge – 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike and 26.2 mile run – would certainly test my physical abilities. Hell, I had ended up in the hospital after my third marathon only a few years earlier and in a medic tent on yet another marathon. So adding a 2.4 mile swim and a 112 mile bike before starting a marathon run would be a test beyond anything that seemed feasible in my world. And that’s why I wanted to do it.

But from my marathon training over the years, I knew there was another bigger test involved with the Ironman. It would push me mentally. In any endurance event, there comes a time when your body is ready to collapse. Exhausted. Toasted. Done.

It’s when those moments hit that your mental strength is put to the test. You find that space where all you want to do is give up, to stop. Your body is screaming. And you can stop because it’s the natural and logical thing to do. Or you can push through it. And if you choose the latter, you chart new ground. You shatter your old limits.

This would be the ultimate challenge for me. It was my way of testing whether, at the age of 50, I was still young and vital. Whether it was going to be the beginning of a new chapter or the beginning of the end, it was a way for me to validate myself. And it was a way for me to validate to the world. In hindsight, it was clear that this quest was for my own ego.

So by the time I boarded the plane for New Zealand, I was well into my journey of self-discovery. And I fully expected the 2.5 months I was about to spend on the other side of the world was going to be transformative. Little did I know how much so.

Training for an Ironman for me was a pretty solitary experience. I had a coach, who gave me expert guidance along the way, but I trained alone. Not many folks want to train that intensely, especially through the winter. And since I was going to compete in NZ in early March, I was running and biking in more frigid conditions than what most sane folks would find acceptable. So it was me against the elements. It wasn’t easy, but it strengthened my resolve. As I ran in snow or biked for hours on desolate roads in freezing weather, I knew that I was where I needed to be.

My lonely and solitary test changed a few days before the race as I returned to my hotel room in Taupo, New Zealand. I received an outpouring of support from friends and colleagues, and I was humbled beyond words. The message from my daughter created the most profuse parade of tears down my cheeks:

 

I ran across this quote and it reminded me of you…

“Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible.”

You are too strong to let doubt slow you down…I am very proud of you!!

I love you Dad.

 

Now, if you’re a parent…you probably know how I felt after I read that. But my old self would have responded, “I must have done something right as a Dad to have a daughter as special and loving as that.” And maybe I did do something right, that was certainly my intent as a parent. But I was coming to realize that it wasn’t all about me.

As I recorded in my Ironman Blog at the time:

My sense of ego is diminishing rapidly as I expand my view of the awesome powers around me. Not just of some higher power or order of the universe (which will take me much longer to comprehend), but of the power coming from each of you and everyone else that I have the privilege to cross paths with. For those that are sending me their positive energy…know that I feel it and will carry it with me on every stroke, pedal and step of the course.

At that moment, I realized I was not alone on this journey. There were people that were cheering me on. They were sending their love and support to lift me. They were inspired by my commitment and my fearlessness. And I was forever indebted.

As I sat in my hotel room, reading comments, the emotions coursing through me were real and raw. I realized I wasn’t alone at all. And this wasn’t just my journey any more. At that moment, my race experience shifted. It went from me “proving’ something to me being “supported” by the love and sacrifice of others. I was filled with a sense of gratitude that was overpowering.

My race came and went…it was an amazing day. But the race was just the tip of the experience. I then had the opportunity to travel New Zealand for two months with my best friend, Beth, who had moved to Kiwi Land two years prior.

Our time was remarkable in every way possible. There is no doubt in my mind that Beth was the best partner to accompany me on this part of my journey. We shared our deepest desires, our strongest fears, our hopes for the future, the meaning of life…we talked about stuff that got to the core of who we were. I discovered things about myself that revealed a truer, authentic self. All the while with the backdrop of New Zealand, a spiritual haven of lush landscapes and welcoming people.

I left New Zealand a different man. I had arrived in the Southern Hemisphere looking to feed my ego, but I left wanting to nourish my soul. Old patterns were broken. I could re-enter my life at home and continue down my old path. A path that would give me a good life. But it was now clear that I knew that “good enough” was not what I was here for. It wasn’t my purpose. I wasn’t willing to settle for “good enough” any more.

Over the next couple of years, I did the extreme. I ended my business partnership, and left my business. I ended a long-term relationship of 15 years. I sold my house. I gave away most of my belongings. I moved 3,000 miles away to a city where I didn’t know a soul. Most people thought I was crazy. And that’s ok by me. I’ve learned that “being normal” is overrated. And having a “good” life or living the “status quo” is not enough for me. Life is short. Life is precious. And I don’t want to regret a minute of it.

So many lessons have been learned or reinforced post-New Zealand. While I came back with a new purpose – a desire to make an impactful difference in the lives of others – I also had a new personal mantra of “joy and balance” for myself. That has manifested in an appreciation for so many things I used to take for granted. A life where I live on purpose….a life that is the one I choose to live on my terms. Helping others do the same is a gift that I cherish every day.

 

 

 

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