Davey’s Redemption

Davey was frightened. He had made all sorts of mistakes in life, and now it had come to this, he thought to himself as he gazed fixedly into the putrid black water.

IMGA0060Thinking all the usual thoughts  that people think in Davey’s position – he was practiced at them by now – he contemplated the ordinary bleakness of the future and what he might do next. After all the comings and goings of the last few months, he was low. Very low.

One thing was for sure, he had no more ideas.  His energies for life were all used up on the efforts he had made throughout his life’s journey and, here, in this decade of his life, he had finally come to a standstill. He had run out. In more ways than one. 

The black water looked menacing and cold. It flowed slowly and silently round and round, yet if he stopped to listen he could hear it’s siren song calling him towards its clammy waters. It was all he could do to resist the water’s damning message.

Yet the stranger had definitely said that it was possible for good things to come out of bad, or even to actively turn bad things into good. “There is always a way” he had said, if you are patient and reach for it.

In despair and the deepest disappoint in himself he had ever known, Davey had finally given up the fight, declaring himself hopeless and the stranger’s words deceptive rubbish. The guy clearly had no idea of how bad bad can be. Bad things into good things? That could only be a platitude. There was no way forward from here. Yet the stranger had said that one day he would find out for himself.

Davey reviewed his life for a few moments.  Had he not become a respected scientist? Was he not indeed a competent entrepreneur? So how had it come to this? He had the finest of university educations and been taught by world class professors. He had a caring family, who even now we’re grieving for him in his sadness.

He felt overwhelmed by self pity. As he stared into the black sludgy polluted water he felt hopeless seep through his clothes and into his heart. Good out of bad?  This bad?  It was all a meaningless cruel joke, and now he would indeed take the next step that would… that would … that … would…

He stopped. A flash of moonlight on something in the water caught his attention. Swirling innocently in the incessant gurgling flow was a little glass bottle complete with its stopper.

In some strange way, it floated clean and sparkling on the surface of the blackness.  He felt it was waiting for him, a last chance perhaps, and he knew without doubt he must have it.

It was a long way down to the waters edge, but something in Davey’s heart came alive sufficiently to prompt him to action.  Stepping back for a moment from his precarious position (and his self pity) he climbed down to the bank of the putrid pool and reached out. He would need to reach out much further than what was safe for him to rescue the bottle (and maybe himself) from the fate that called them both, but driven by his sudden inexplicable change of mood, he was determined. That little fragile bottle might change his life he thought irrationally. Perhaps it already had. He must have it at all costs.

He reached out, accepting the risks of his new passion, no longer afraid, no longer obsessing about his failings and fortunes, risking being carried away, or sucked into the sludge.

No, it was beyond him. It was out of reach, but for the first time in his life he threw aside his inhibitions and looked around for help.

That was when he saw the stranger just a few yards away who had been quietly watching his efforts all the while, and seemed to read his mind. Unselfconsciously he asked, “Can you help me please? I need that bottle.” The stranger stepped forward and anchoring himself into the bank, grasped Davey’s outstretched hand. 

Trusting his weight to this Kind Stranger made the difference.  Davey felt the bottle at his finger tips, and with one last stretch, grasped it firmly in his hand. It was his. Looking up he saw, in the moonlight, a glimpse of a smile on the stranger’s shadowed face.

Davey sat for several minutes, still and quiet at the water’s edge, reliving the last few minutes of what had seemed an impossibly challenging day (and the last few years of what felt like an impossibly challenging life.)  He took a deep breath, and as he exhaled said to himself, “This moment is a turning point for me.  I know it. Life will never be the same again.”

For the first time, in a single moment he had reached out for help, and it was as if all the struggles to achieve, all his efforts to be accepted and loved, all the disappointment and inadequacy no longer mattered.

The magic words had been “help me” and he knew it. He had never asked so blatantly for help before. He had always tried to make it on his own, brought up with the expectation that he should be independent, self sufficient, stand on his own two feet and manage his own affairs.

The very walls he had built to keep himself safe had imprisoned him.  He felt a deep sense of love filtering its way into the rocky caverns of his heart; a strange lightness beaming it’s mellow rays into its grey shadows.

And the little glass bottle was here in his hand, rescued from the very waters that he, just a few minutes before … He preferred not to think about that.

It was many years later he told me this story. He was now a wealthy man, with a loving family around him. Things had turned out well.  Reaching into his coat, he drew out the little glass bottle, complete with its stopper…

…and a crumpled, stained, scrap of paper.

“This is what was in the bottle” he said, passing it to me. “I just accepted what it says, and that has made all the difference”.

I smoothed out the paper and felt my own heart leap. There on the paper were the very words I had so longed to hear as a child – and actually through all these demanding and challenging years of life.  As I read them over and over, I could feel them washing me too, cleansing and healing me to the very core.

And I accepted them.

And that has made all the difference.

“I AM HERE” What on earth …

The latest Sercombe motorbike adventure was to the Outer Hebrides.  Just me, my big BMW R1200GS and my red tent.  In case you’ve never been there – and few people round West Sussex have as it’s 730 miles away –  this string of islands is off the northwest coast of Scotland, windy, rainy and cold.

And in the middle of a mile-long deserted pristine beach I saw this:

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No footprints anywhere near, except mine, and by the time I left my idyllic wild campsite overlooking the sea, the engraving was no more – washed away by the waves.

Of course it was me. In a moment of spontaneous inspiration I carved “I AM HERE” with my foot in the sand – and the thought dominated my week, as I contemplated my life, my business, God, the universe, and my future. Today I’ve been thinking about it again as I camped out last night in the wilds of the South Downs catching up with some reading.  A bit existentialist I know, but the truth is, I am here, and I will be ‘here’ for a while yet.  Wherever I am, I AM.  It’s the inescapable truth, and on the basis that the truth frees us, I’m enjoying the freedom.

Yep, I’m here, and it is up to me to make of it what I will.

I’m not on that beach any more. I am here instead, writing this blog.  I moved on, came back to Sussex, and I’m two weeks older, and although I have a camera full of Hebridean photos – Butt of Lewis lighthouse, the rocky hillsides of Harris, Benbecula, Eriskay, and a welcoming pink roofed cafe in Lochmaddy – I can never, ever, recapture that moment on the beach.

In times of quiet solitude I become particularly aware of the presence of God ‘here’, where I am, with me.  It is as if He has said, not written in sand but whispered as a permanent statement deep within, “Andrew, I am here” – wherever I am, always. Regardless of the ups and downs of my life, I’m never actually alone. The Divine Presence, the Creator, present in the world He created.  With me. Here. Now. For ever.

And today that is sufficient for me.  In fact overwhelmingly more so.  Far more important than success, or money. God is here.

And He is where you are too – such is the omnipresent nature of the Holy Spirit.  Unhampered by the limitations of time and space, God is with you as you read this on your screen – closer, actually.

3000 years ago a gifted young shepherd on the run from his tormentors wrote about it. Stunningly poetic, he wrapped it up in a way I’ll never be able to.  I’ve put a few key bits of his poem for you to read quietly before you move on into the rest of your week. Take a few moments – ten minutes? – to stop and reconnect. And whilst you’ll already know that I am here for you today (yes, me, Andrew. Just a phone or Skype call or email away), far more importantly, He is too.

Enjoy.

E:  andrew@powerchange.com   M: 07771631945  Skype: andrewsercombe  Website: www.powerchange.com

Full Circle to Christianity’s ‘faith, hope and love’.

In a world where the usual reassurances are no longer working, where, across the world, confidence in government, education, business and justice systems – even in ourselves – is at an all-time low, more and more people are looking around with searching eyes, hunting for some roots, some solid ground beneath their feet, something – anything – that they can rely on as an ultimate safety net, a better pathway along which to walk into the future and a better way of living for the present.IMG_2204

Is this ‘something’ God? Not the universe, energy, or Nature, but the God of Christianity, the creator of it all? I am increasingly of the conviction that it is.

There is an unwavering hope, wholeness and security in the Christian Faith. With its clear clean message of the ultimate in love, freedom and justice, it is proving yet again to be better than any kitchen or partner update, more reliable than Wikipedia, and more secure than a gated property or any amount of money in the bank.

Built around relevant real-time local worshipping communities, Christianity has consistently invited people to a liberating spiritual surrender of their lives to their Creator – along with a radical review of their current values and attitudes – reaching out to him in humility, faith and commitment.

The result is a profound sideways ‘paradigm’ shift, into a new world and a new way of thinking, where the goals and aspirations of 21st Century living are replaced by much more profound goals and aspirations that cannot be bettered and will last, literally, for ever.

  • Welcome to the experience of a loving and eternal here-and-now God who we can truly connect with and be honestly accountable to.
  • Welcome to the promise of heaven and eternal life awaiting us beyond our physical death.
  • Welcome to a set of uncompromised day-to-day guiding life principles that have been around since the beginning of time and we can surrender to.
  • Welcome to an understanding of the world we live in that takes us beyond the natural worries and concerns of economic growth, survival of the fittest, cancer and redundancy.

Yes, welcome to the faith-filled, hope-filled, and love-filled life of 21st Century Christianity. Signing up has changed the lives of thousands of millions across the world for over two millennia. Some track record, eh?  Agreed, there is a price to pay – the price is simply everything you have, do and are.  Everything.

I’m in.

Shrapnel. Unexploded bombs. What’s your story?

Working with a company this week or so I have spent seven days coaching just twenty two people. They came from ten different nationalities. Thankfully the company has a very enlightened approach to performance coaching, accepting that lives are not compartmentalised and that what happens on the inside profoundly affect the outside. We’re working on both of course because performance matters in these straitened times, but inside comes first.

Time revealed truth, as it eventually seems to do. Just three of them, maybe four, had a reasonably secure happy past. Most were doing their very best to live well despite the past, yet had jumped to unhelpful conclusions about life in general and their lives in particular – conclusions that were affecting and reflected in their day to day perceptions of the world, their company, their performance and their relationships. All of them were sincere thoughtful genuine people.

Most were experiencing significant emotional pain with bits (sometimes seriously debilitating chunks) of life’s shrapnel still lodged in hard-to-get-at places in their thoughts. Some were tiptoeing round ‘unexploded bombs’ in their lives. With each, and with the tenderest of touches, together we collaborated in that ‘access and removal’ process. With the shrapnel now dealt with and the bombs defused – and the associated emotional infection being treated – those amazing, hard-working and committed people will be able to achieve a better version of ‘best’ for themselves and the company, and build their entire futures differently, on a much safer and more trustworthy foundation.

The glad-or-sad thing about this is that for most (some will definitely need more time) it took just a two hour or so session to achieve this.  Glad we could do it so efficiently, with little pain and only a few tears. Sad that we weren’t together to do it ten years ago. At least their futures now look less trapped by the past and will require less determination and inner fight. From this week they will be able to live more kind to themselves and each other.

There is already a different atmosphere emerging, with more open (and lighter) faces. What a difference that will make to the fortunes of this passionate and award-winning company full of such treasure-able and highly intelligent people!

And then there’s your story. I’m waiting to find out what the next chapter holds.

The Day of the Entrepreneur has Come.

Hooray!  Hooray!  At last, amid the sad gloom and gutting inevitability of downturns, redundancies  and part time working, there is a glimmer of light on the dawn horizon.

Following evening classes in gardening and French beret design, Monet decided to try just one more...

The country is slowly awakening to the idea that starting your own business is worth it.  Part-time or full-time, for those little luxuries, for feeding the kids or for paying the mortgage, starting and building a business for yourself makes sense  – at least for those people who want to be in control of their own destiny. You’ll work harder than you ever have before, you may work hours longer, but think of it, you’ll get ALL the profit.  YOU get what YOU work for. And you’ll enjoy it. You may even get to buy an Airstream.

As a business creator and coach, (and a bloke who was brought up in an entrepreneurial family) here are my top tips for making a business work – and I’ve made mine work since 1997. When I started I was on Family Credit and Housing Benefit.

Tip Number 1:  See Problems in the World as a Business Opportunity.

Wherever there is a problem, someone somewhere will pay YOU to fix it! People make millions out of everything from manure and toilet paper, to oil disasters, toothache and getting vomit out of taxi cabs. You can make money from ANY problem that someone wants to go away – and all of us want problems to go away, don’t we?  Have you noticed that YOU pay people to do things you don’t want to do?

Tip number 2: Don’t let ‘Pride’ Stop You.

How often do you hear people say, “Oh, I could never do that!” Poor them.  They are letting their fear of what another person might think push them into poverty. If you think like that, you are probably not hungry enough. Believe me, the way things are going you will be hungry enough one day, so why wait until then? All over the country we are catching on to the attitude of a guy I met…

This wasn't him.

… in Mumbai.  He had a shop that sold trendy belts.  I interviewed him for a film we were making, and his excitement knew no bounds.  He was about to open his SECOND belts shop a few streets away. Both shops had ground space of just 3 square metres! (He bribed the street wardens to let him have an extra square metre and increased his sales by 50%!) He was so pleased with himself.  Yet in Britain people would rather be seen on anti-depressants than be seen on a market stall.  And all because of pride.  How stupid.

Tip number 3: Live beyond disappointment, criticism and blame.

I can tell you first hand what it feels like to have people rip you off, steal your money (ie, not pay their bills), lie (say they are going to), rubbish your product when they have never tried it, and lots more besides. They are the true poor, however much money they have.  You will have every good reason to be fed up, mope, slag people off and use other methods to try and make yourself feel better, but all that will only distract you from your essential obsession: to build your business. It took me ten years to stop feeling mad at the disgraceful behaviour of some people who had treated me badly, and when I did, I changed for the better –  I learnt to let it go and keep my focus.

I sell words, words that change people’s lives, rewire their thinking and give them hope, inspiration, and more money in the bank.  Those words do not come cheap, neither to me nor to you. I paid a lot to be able to say those words with utter conviction and passion. I paid a price of personal pain, of rejection, of misunderstanding, and sometimes of real hard cash. (“Poor me”? Certainly not!   They’ve made me a wealthier person.)  Learning the hard way is normal, and entrepreneurs of all people have learnt to milk costly experiences for what they are worth, because they know those same experiences will mature into powerful assets in the future if they are humble enough to be taught by them. Those things become an investment.

So if, like Maria in the Sound of Music, you’ve had a door slammed in your face – or even watched helplessly as the wind blew it shut before you could get to keep it open – remember there is ALWAYS a way out, a window, even from some of the most awful of places. (As you may have read in my previous blog, even from a hard-core prison.) The closed door is perversely an invitation to a new life, maybe less lucrative than previously to start with, but a life of challenge, the thrill of creative inspiration and the joy of achievement.

Today may just be your day. After all, you’ve read THIS, and you’ve got THIS FAR. So what comes next? Are you going to be like the sad majority of people who surrender to the bad times, who plonk themselves down in a heap and get mad at people like me who ‘don’t understand’ but live happy and motivated? Are you going to get into more bad debt and go on the (anti-depressant) pill? Or are you going to come off the crippling contraceptive of distrust, allow yourself to be seduced by the possibility of a better life, and get pregnant with a business? It won’t be long before you give birth to a life that brings worthwhile action and purposeful, rewarding – deeply fulfilling – days months and years. Yes, starting a business is a bit like having a live, wriggly, demanding baby in the family. Mine is ten years old this year, and growing up fast!

If you’re at that point of decision today, give me a personal call on 0777-163-1945, or send me an email: andrew@powerchange.com.  Of course I’ll help you. I’ll mentor you.  And of course I’ll charge you.  But just because you accepted my invitation and read this blog, I’ll give you a special summer discount in July and August. IF you remind me of this offer, that is!

Get in touch.  You don’t yet know just how rewarding that will be.

You could know by tomorrow though, couldn’t you?

The rollercoaster – are YOU on one?

A friend emailed me yesterday to say her business had been a ‘rollercoaster’. Know the feeling?  Loads of ups and downs following one another in frighteningly (or exhilaratingly) quick succession.

Dawn from my tent flap, Lisebotn Fiord, Norway.
Dawn from my tent flap, Lysebotn Fiord, Norway, Aug 09.

Assuming ‘ups’ are the tough bits and the ‘downs’ easier, we tend to see in the next few cycles what fits our expectations.  Here are two alternatives for a person going through a tough time:

a) “Whatever good times I go through they always seem to be followed by one of these debilitating climbs. It is really hard.”      Or…

b) “I often go through tough times, but there is always a good time after that. I just keep going till I break through.”

Or as an old preacher used to say, “As surely as the Lord paints the sunsets, the dawn will come!” He knew a thing or two.

Same ride (it’s called Life), different responses. Here are two comments to think about:

1) If you’re wanting to make the most of the ups and downs, look for the trends:  Are the good times getting more or less frequent? Are the steep times getting tougher or less tough? It helps you step back a little and see a bigger picture.

2) Remember that people who see the good times live longer, are happier healthier and richer. They are not merely to be written off as ‘optimists’ refusing to face the facts. They live with a crucial ingredient for healthy living – hope.

Both these attitudes help us as business people to respond to the situations in hand without being tossed about by them emotionally too much. Let them affect you.

Remember when the darkness has set in: sunrise is inevitable.