Updated: Apr 4, 2019
You made it here! That's crazy awesome of you. You'll notice multiple times throughout this blog entry how often I express gratitude toward you. I literally mean you; the person reading this, at this very moment - thank you.
If you haven't made your way around the rest of the website, allow me to level-set this entry by explaining, quickly, what JM Coaching does. I partner with various business owners, leaders, and teams in an effort to grow their organizations. Each coaching opportunity is uniquely tailored to the client for optimal results.
The social media post that brought you here was initially meant to be this long, heartfelt story about how, when, and why I started my business. The importance of all that information runs deep for me. I feel like the origin story, itself, holds value. I think my story demonstrates what makes me and my services valuable to the clients I serve.
I ultimately decided to transition that story from a social media post to a Plane Side Blog entry.
I didn't know what I was doing.
At the beginning of all this, starting a business, writing a book, hosting a blog, etc., I didn't know what I was doing. I knew what I wanted to accomplish, from a big picture standpoint, but I didn't know how to separate and organize all the small stuff. This was more than strategic planning, creating KPI's, defining sales goals, or determining how this or that affects a bottom line. In the beginning, it was incredibly difficult to see through my own bullshit. I had to figure out what I was doing wrong, like, in a very specific way. The only question I could start with was, "Justin, what inspired you to start your business"?
Before we move along this journey together, I'd like you to understand a few things about me:
I do not know everything, nor do I claim to.
I am in the constant pursuit of learning new things.
I learn best from trial and error.
I learn from other people, experiences, and things.
I recognize I am just a dude.
My intention is to serve other people.
I've learned, over time, it's necessary to clear stuff from our lives. This clearing allows us to realize what is at our core. Shortly after asking myself, "what inspired you to start your business?", I decided to say no to a lot of things and to a lot of people. I decided to clear stuff out and focus on this question. In time, I found my answer; "I started, and am building, my business on the foundation that we all, at our core, share the exact same desire. We want the world to be a better place". That desire can take on various meanings. Whether it's about giving a better home to our children or increasing benefits to our employees, we all want to leave the world better off than it was before we were here. The point at which I realized this, it pushed me to keep pressing forward, toward this pursuit of figuring out how I can be a better human.
I believe when we are better, we are equipped to pass that along to others, who will become better. They will do the same, and the pattern will continue on. The result of that ...
... a world that is better.
So, yeah. Ultimately, the purpose of JM Coaching is to change the world. Sounds crazy right?
You have no idea how good yet scary, vulnerable, and crazy it feels to do this; publically announce my business venture, my book, and other projects in the works; along with the purpose of those things.
I recently met with another local business coach. I didn't realize I would be walking away from that meeting with a profound, new perspective. He was asking me some personal questions. I obliged and decided to be fairly transparent. With regard to my 5 year vision, I said those words to him, "...call me crazy". Without hesitation he said, "or courageous". I looked at him with a stupid blank stare.
If you and I were talking face to face, I'd be laughing as I tell this story. I was incredibly nervous to be in that meeting. This guy had over 30 years in the corporate world in addition to the 16 years he'd been an executive coach. This meeting was an opportunity for me to test my own questions, listen to and observe him, glean some tips/tricks of the trade, and hopefully walk away with some other market information.
The next words that came out of his mouth gave me what I didn't know I needed.
"You know Justin, in terms of moving forward, it really matters how you interpret that. Do you see yourself as crazy or courageous"?
I couldn't think of anything else to say other than a truth that had bothered me at night whenever I tried to fall asleep. I told him that I'd been struggling with a thought, that all of this seems too big. Then I said, "After all, I'm just a dude; however, I like how the word "courageous" feels". I promptly thanked him and let him know I would be moving forward, knowing that it's ok to feel courageous instead of crazy.
The primary foundation of my business, my book, and any other idea that comes to fruition stems from my perspective; how doing right things relates to healthier lives, more successful businesses, and all-around better communities.
The courageous thought is this, "What could the implication and impact be if multiple communities became better versions of themselves; that means a changed world, right"?
The service I provide to clients is offering my perspective. My perspective is unique, in most ways, in comparison to others. I'd actually argue that every individual perspective is unique to the next. That's part of the beauty in our humanity. The problem I struggled with, toward the beginning was, "why does my perspective matter"? Inside me, I know my perspective matters. But it feels humbling , the thought of claiming to be the expert with regard to another person's growth and success. What makes me the guy?
That executive coach I met with taught me a valuable lesson. It's a lesson that had been communicated to me in the past. I learned, finally, that courageous acts are hard, scary, not typically predictable, and above all - selfless. Furthermore, it's ok to be courageous even, and especially, when just one person says "you can't". I suppose part of that lesson was the realization that, often times, the only person saying "you can't", is the person in the mirror. Several things have happened in my life, which have shaped my perspective. Some of those things I want to share with you here. I have to save the rest for the book, but the hope is that at the end of it, we will all be better.
I did not always know the right words, let alone the right combination of those words, to articulate the value I would be able to provide. My perspective and my approach is different, it's people oriented. That's not easy to explain and then quantify, in terms of value. "Hello Friend, I can help your business grow through the development of the people inside your organization". It seems easy to articulate, on the surface. But, the majority of business leaders I work with are either operating alone or with a very small team. To assert that a person needs to focus on personal development prior to running the numbers is a sure-fire way to find myself in the unemployment line.
Perspective is just a look through a lense.
I wanted, nope, I needed to learn how to communicate that better.
Although I feel I have come to a place where I am able to articulate those things, I will always be searching for better ways to do so. Perspective is just a look through a lense. The lense and the thing being looked at changes frequently; so does the eye on your side of the lense.
As I’ve been reflecting on lessons learned, working on exciting projects, and moving past some really weird shit that’s happened over the past year, I thought, “why not toss it all out there and see what happens”.
There are a few people, reading this, who know me fairly well. Fewer still, know where I’m at currently. To those of you who have taken a moment, or several of them, to walk alongside me as I blaze this trail; I am eternally thankful.
There are several people here, who do not realize the positive contributions they've made in my life. Those contributions have truly affected the core of who I am. I suppose, in many ways, this serves as my expression of very deep gratitude toward you.
As for the folks whom I don’t get the opportunity to communicate with, on even a semi-regular basis; I’ve learned that there are countless lessons to learn from the smallest of interactions and experiences. That said, I’m also very thankful that we’ve met in some capacity.
I know I’m not alone in feeling this way, but I feel like not enough of us say "thank you" when we’re thinking and feeling thankful. I could go through every profile picture on my personal social media accounts and think of a really amazing time we had together. I can recall the specific impact you had on who I am.
2017 into and through 2018 was a really strange time for me. In a nutshell;
I started going through my divorce.
I was fired from the career I felt like I was on fire with
My son was approaching 17 - the age I was when he was born.
My step-dad, who I had this weird rocky-yet- super-fulfilling relationship with, went to the hospital and never went home.
Among other regular-life-stuff, it was like some proverbial bomb went off and changed the landscape of my life. 2019 would be all about new beginnings.
Each of these things had a profound effect on how I came to start my business, why I started my business, and ultimately led me to the plan of where I want my business to go.
Let me explain.
Going through my divorce and getting fired were things that happened over the past year. I’m not going to go into any detail about either but there are a few things to note as I press on with the larger story.
I mention my divorce to simply illustrate that I was traversing something emotionally difficult. I was not alone in that. She was also traversing terrain neither of us had planned on.
She and I both managed to come out on the other side, arguably better than before.
That did not come easy.
Before I move on, I feel it necessary to clarify that I do not recommend, nor do I necessarily condone divorce. I also recognize that I might lose some of you on the following note but, I believe it to be true.
Sometimes divorce, or better yet – the act of people realizing, before more time has passed, that it is ok to correct a mistake; regardless where you both find yourselves on the spectrum of that mistake – is a right thing.
Although we should aspire to reduce the frequency of making mistakes; mistakes are not bad things. A mistake is an opportunity to learn something new.
There are few truths clearer to me than that very truth. It’s the reason I’m making words appear on a blank document as I listen to music in the background.
This Plane Side Blog entry is the articulation of my belief in that truth.
In addition to giving me a fresh perspective with regard to mistakes, going through my divorce taught me a few other things as well:
No relationship with another human being is wasted time.
Often times, right things are uncomfortable, unpopular, and on the other side of the "rules".
When we do right things then right things, maybe not easy things, but right things happen - for everyone.
Getting fired from my favorite job provided me ample opportunity to learn several things as well. Although I don't want to get into the weeds with details here, I do want to point out a few specific lessons that have proven to serve me well ever since.
The company is amazing. There are other companies that are fantastic as well. I’m just saying that this particular company has most of their shit together. They know their shortcomings, celebrate the great things, and seem to truly believe in this purpose to make humans better than they were prior to experiencing this company.
I learned a great deal from people, experiences, and things at that company. I learned a great deal as a result of my travels to work with other business leaders in connection with that company. That company and any other company is just a conglomerate of humans. A company, as an entity, is the end result of people’s ability to relate. That’s where this particular company nails it though.
There are incredible people who work for this company.
That created a tough pill for me to swallow.
I could not blame a single person for any reason I no longer work there. That was my bad.
... I am truly thankful for my experiences there.
All those words are simply meant to point out that we all can think of some regret we have or have had at some point. However, remember that super-true-truth I mentioned earlier; how mistakes are opportunities to learn something new? A regret is likely due to some mistake we made. Sure, we can look back with wishful thinking, wondering what would have happened if we didn't make a particular mistake. That's not a solution. Learning from the mistake is the right thing. Why regret, or feel bad about, an opportunity to learn something new and move forward a better version of yourself?
There were so many things I learned from my time with that company. So many amazing people provided me with different perspectives and genuinely challenged me to grow in all ways. Talk about no wasted time in relationships. Among the things I learned, or became more acutely aware of, are these:
My talent, my calling, my purpose, whatever thing we agree to calling it, is to help develop, encourage, and coach people.
Seeking to become the best versions of ourselves has positive, practical, and tangible consequences.
A person can form deep meaningful friendships later in life.
There are really smart, talented, and good people right next to us.
Sometimes, we miscalculate when and where to place our words and/or actions in the pursuit of right things.
I’m not old but I’m not super young anymore either. It's a weird feeling. A warm cup of coffee, the peaceful serenity of the crisp mountain air, deep and meaningful conversation; sign me up. I definitely don't want to get into those weeds, here anyway. My point in saying that is, there are people I've had the opportunity to meet and connect with later in my life whom I consider dear friends.
I've been warned that taking you off the linear path of this story may not be great but, I like to bend rules. That said, I want to thank you for staying with me. It’s cool to think, as I type this, that even one of you has actually made it this far and not just scrolled on by because, “hell nope, that is way too long”.
The 140-character world we live in has really changed our ability to connect. The 140-character forum, for sure, has its place but I don’t think it should be the thing – the way we relate to and connect with each other thing.
Amidst all of the commotion going on throughout the past year and the ample amount of things I was learning, I had a conversation with one of those people I said I wouldn’t call out.
I didn’t get his permission so, no names.
Regarding a decision I was going to be making, which would greatly affect my 17-year-old son, he said, “you have to decide what’s more important; being present for him or showing him what it looks like to follow your dreams”. I stood in my kitchen that day with a glass of whiskey and didn’t know what to do. Those words he spoke confused me.
I love this guy though. He has also been through a great deal in his own life and he is one of the coolest people I know.
Here's a snapshot of why I hold this opinion of him;
If you seem to be accepting of all people, caring for all people, hopeful for all people, willing to listen to all people, willing to help all people grow, offer dope advice, can sit in a hot tub – at night – watching tv – with a glass of whiskey, and can still be the hardest worker in the room, clocking at least ten years on everyone else in the room, then you are a really cool person.
My son turned 17 toward the end of the year. That, itself, was enough to drive me nuts. There’s the typical stressors of having a 17-year-old, so I won’t bore you with that obviousness. What bothered me so much, was the fact that I was 17 when my son was born. It’s all fun and games until you realize your son is the age you were when he was born; and even that’s all fun and games, until you realize 17-year-old humans are not equipped to be parents. If his life were to mimic my own, he would be faced with challenges he could easily avoid until he's better equipped to handle them. I want his life to be better, less hard, than mine was at that age.
I came to realize an incredibly valuable lesson in that moment of angst, as I stood with my whiskey, attempting to process my friend's words. It wasn't new, I simply had not been confronted with the need to put it into practice yet. Showing my son how to create, plan for, and follow his dreams was more important than the awesome job offer I received and was contemplating moving away to take. I would need to be both present and following my dream, exemplifying that on a moment to moment basis. My dear friend, one of the coolest people I know, uttered some of the most wise and confusing words I'd heard to that point.
I could not be more thankful for that conversation.
Hands down, my son is the most important human being to me.
If you are also a parent, you know the feeling. It doesn’t matter how many children you have. It doesn't matter if they are step-children, adopted children, etc. If you care for a child, that child is the most important life form to you. There are endless lessons to be learned from the emotions, specifically love, from parent to child.
While my son looked down at my step-dad, who passed away just an hour previous, I stood there with my arm around him while he attempted to translate his own emotions. In that moment, I was overcome with happiness, oddly enough, because I knew I didn’t mess "that" up. “That”, being a decision which would have removed my ability to be present to help my son translate those emotions.
Furthermore, I made a promise to my step-dad during our last conversation. I promised that I would pour everything I had into my business and accompanying projects. I promised that I would put everything I have into it, so my son would have, at minimum, something to “come home to” if that’s what he wants to do.
So, I did it. I continued to put the hammer down and build my business...
... and I did put the cart before the horse.
I’m sweating as I type this because of my embarrassment over how bad the first few proposals felt; not to mention the follow-up conversations. They weren’t actually "bad" but there was and will continue to be things I needed to learn. I used those opportunities, not only over the course of this last strange year but all the years previous, to spend countless amounts of time honing my craft.
I needed to put myself on a trajectory to becoming the best version of me. Ultimately, that is what I will be coaching my clients to do.
I've mentioned this last conversation with my step-dad a few times. It was a pivotal moment over the past year, so I wanted to mention why. My step-dad had been struggling with multiple myeloma for several years. He was given five..ish years to live, roughly five years ago so, all in all, he actually did fairly well.
That didn’t stop his death from halting me right where I was in life. Then, it sent me down this path which culminated in this blog entry.
During the last conversation I had with him, he listened more intently and responded clearer than I’d experienced from him for weeks. I sat there thinking to myself, "how on earth is this wealth of right shit coming from that loud, grumpy, whiny, not-so-fat-anymore, aptly shaven face? “Whatever”, I thought, with a mental shrug, as I tuned back into his words.
I will include specific parts of that conversation in the book but the thing to note here is a list of three things I learned that day:
It seems, the vast majority of humans desire closeness, in terms of relationships.
At the deepest core in every one of us is this undeniable desire to do all the right things.
I need to continue building my business, but I want it to only appeal to the right things.
This three-bullet list sent me on a ride that I was not expecting, or wanting, if I’m being honest.
Earlier, I listed things about me that I wanted you to know. One of those things is that I learn best from trial and error. That's a fancy way of saying that I have, historically, made a lot of mistakes. On the one hand, I've put myself in a position to learn a great deal in my short ... ish time in this life. On the other hand, I've put myself in some pretty difficult situations.
How is that relevant to the big picture?
Well, if mistakes are opportunities to learn new things, I've definitely had a plethora of opportunities to learn new things. But, from a pessimistic perspective, there have been moments where I find myself feeling overwhelmed with guilt, shame, and embarrassment because some of those mistakes involved other people. While I find myself in constant pursuit of making sure I eliminate not-right-things (right vs wrong is a subject worth exploring, but not here), it doesn't mean that there aren't folks near and dear to me who may feel we have unresolved stuff.
To that end ...
This entry feels exposing, vulnerable, embarrassing, and maybe a little stupid. Because of those adjectives, this post also feels a bit like a waste of time.
More importantly though ...
... this post feels like a right thing.
One of the things I realized deeper, from that last conversation I had with my step-dad, is that I wanted the building blocks of my business to appeal to only the right things. That is despite how (insert negative adjective) it feels in the moment.
So, because I learned from my step-dad that I want right things to be the foundation on which I build my business, I need to do right things; despite how (insert negative adjective) it feels in the moment.
I recognize that we've all heard, since we were children, "always do the right thing, no matter what", or "you know what the right thing to do is". If not those exact words, something very similar. That said, none of this is new.
In my experience many of us say the words and when it comes down to brass tacks, we fold to accomodate a motif, a belief, a disagreement, an opinion, or some other thing that benefits us over the other person or people involved. I could double the size of the entry with examples of short cuts, loopholes, hidden fees, hidden c.y.a. language, etc. I'll pass on that to simply utter the purpose behind my business:
JM Coaching exists to help others prioritize right things. By prioritizing right things we can, together, grow stronger businesses, promote healthier lives, and lift communities up.
This platform is a solid opportunity for ripples to turn into waves. So much effort has been put into getting this whole thing to where it is currently. I could not be more excited and thrilled to, courageously, press forward with a meaningful purpose. A purpose that was planted in me long ago and nurtured throughout my life. A purpose that I truly believe can ensure the actual world is better off after my time than it was before my time
Crazy or courageous, this is me, officially sharing it with all of you.
Thank you again, for constantly revealing to me the power of what it means to do right things for other people.