Have you have ever felt that you have much more to offer the world, but you don’t fit the mold?
Growing up I was an obedient child and my mother would often say how pleased she was that I was a “good boy” with the implication that I would receive the best in life. Being fascinated with the possibility of my own development I read as many self-help books I could find. I felt if I could just be obedient to those ideas I could achieve my objectives. So I developed a “can do” enthusiastic attitude.
After graduating from Winona State University with a degree in business, I competed with 50 other applicants for a great job that was known to be a fast track entry-level position. I soon learned that a can do attitude was easily exploited by shrewd game players at my expense, and subsequently got burned by some nasty politics.
I had always wanted to be an entrepreneur and felt that my positive attitude would really help me as a business owner. I partnered with a good friend and we started the first redwood hot tub companies in Michigan. Outdoor redwood hot tubs were a great success there, but only after we had gone broke. The self-help books said it was important to be persistent, but I didn’t understand how to be persistent with no money and maxed out credit. The success formulas and positive attitude weren’t working so I started to think there was something wrong with me.
I joined the Army to learn more about leadership. Being obedient was helpful there but it was clear that my power came from someone else giving it to me. My positive attitude was appreciated and I did well as long as I followed orders, but I knew that those who were giving orders sometimes lacked the best judgment. My army career ended abruptly when my wife died of cancer and I found myself as a single parent to a 7-year-old daughter.
When my daughter was 14, she was diagnosed with the same type and stage of cancer that her mother died from 7 years earlier. The doctors said it was not passed down and it was only a coincidence. They wanted to do a similar treatment that was not effective with my wife. Every fiber of my being was screaming at me “are you nuts!” are you going to stand by while they do the same thing with your daughter as they did with your wife and watch her die? The obedient leader went away and the rebellious leader emerged.
I used a crude process to communicate with her authentic self to help us determine what was best for her and as a result we stopped the chemotherapy before it was completed. The doctor said she would die without finishing the treatment, and he reported me to the state who took away my legal custody. My newly emerging rebellious leadership style went to court, only the rebellion didn’t help. I just looked like a crackpot who was emotional and a little crazy. We prevailed on a technicality, but it had nothing to do with anything I did. 15 years later, my daughter is alive and well.
It became clear to me that being rebellious did not have any real power and neither did being obedient. The reason was because both approaches had other peoples’ rules, values, and beliefs center stage in my life. I could see that the experts and authorities didn’t necessarily have the answers for me. Instead of looking outside myself I began a journey inward to find my true power. The obedient leader was gone, the rebellious leader was tired, and all that was left for me was to seek the empowerment to lead myself. I learned that my authentic self was covered up and by removing negative energies, I could have clarity and empowerment unlike anything I’ve ever known.