Ever feel unsure about your purpose in business or in life? Check out this video from the Navigating North Panel. Susan joins Karen Anderson, Marvin Towler and Kevin Monroe in the discussion of finding your overall purpose! Check out all the panels Navigating North holds here.
Please find the full video transcript below:
Kevin: Hey there, this is Kevin Monroe and I want to welcome you to day four of the Navigating North Summit. We are so excited to have you join us for today’s live panel discussion. We’ve been doing these live panel discussions every morning 10 AM Eastern; simulcasting on Facebook Live and then having the archive later.
So, before I introduce the panel, let me give you a quick overview so you know what’s going on and so you’re not confused or surprised by anything, or when we make references to other people that aren’t part of the panel, you’ll know who we’re talking about.
So we’re in day four of the five days of the Navigating North Summit. This is an online gathering of people, and we just had an update: we have now reached participants/have people joining the Navigating North Summit from 66 countries around the world. So wherever you’re joining us from, wherever you’re viewing from, we are elated to have you with us.
Navigating North Summit is built on conversations. There are four types of conversations really; let me give you those. Everyday, there are three new featured conversations that are released; these are previously recorded conversations that you can watch at your leisure any time between now and 5 AM tomorrow morning (EST), when the next batch of conversations are released. Then each day, what you’re about to participate in, is a live, deeper dive or panel discussion conversation where we get real fun with this, and then we ask you to join in and continue the conversation. You can do that on Facebook at the Navigating North page or the Higher Purpose Community, which you can find by going to livehigherpurpose.com.
Now, in today’s featured conversations, you’re going to hear from Dr. Rhonda Kehlbeck of the Halftime Institute, also in Texas. I say also because you’ll meet Susan in a moment, she’s from Texas. And if you’re wondering why Susan is so glowing, it’s not just because she’s excited to be here with us to talk about purpose today; she’ll tell you the other reason in a moment. I got to save the suspense, some of you probably already know.
Susan: Whoop! I went to Texas A&M!
Kevin: He started as a quarterback there and then changed positions. And then the third featured conversation today is Jevonnah Ellison, whom some of you may know as “Lady J”, which she explains in her featured conversation.
So for today’s discussion, there are ways you can join in: If you’re on Zoom, which several of you are, you can either join us by chatting, and I don’t want to give you bad information, so there is a menu bar somewhere; it may not be on the bottom of your panel (it is mine), it may be at the top left, but there is a panel, that has some icons, that has chat and you can join in the chat. I see our friend, Susan Axelrod, who will be on tomorrow’s panel on there. I know Susan will chat because she gets active in the chat. So join us in the chat, share your thoughts, and then there’s also the Q&A bar where you can ask questions.
If you’re on Facebook Live, give us a shout out there. We see some folks joining in there and folks saying, “Hi, Marvin!” because I know Marvin’s a big Facebook guy. Lisa Mycon is saying, “Hi, Marvin!” from Facebook. You can view this later on the Navigating North Summit.
Today’s panel will run about 60 minutes. It is not necessary for you to have listened to the featured conversations to enjoy today’s panel but if we make references, we’re not talking about people that are in the room. When we talk about Jevonnah or Rhonda or Sanford, we’re referencing conversations you can see otherwise.
So now, I’m delighted to introduce our panelists. We really should have had five; well, one more, so we could have six and we could do the Hollywood Squares of Navigating North summit, but we’re missing a square. So I’m going to start and ask you to introduce yourself in just two or three sentences, and I’m going to start on Karen Anderson. Karen, introduce yourself to us.
Karen: I’d love to. Karen Anderson. In my real job I’m an acquisitions editor for Morgan James Publishing, so I’ve been in the publishing business for 20 years, but my bigger claim to fame is that I love my children. I have two daughters, and I love them, but I really love my grandchildren. My children were kind of necessary to get to the grandkids. My girls got married, coming up on five years ago, and we are expecting our sixth grandbaby and the oldest is four. And so, we have a four year old, a three and a half year old, a two and a half year old, a one and a half year old and a new baby. I missed somebody.
That’s really what’s important to me so …
Kevin: Okay. I’m also a grandparent, so I get that. Susan, you can introduce yourself and now the big reveal. Why are you glowing?
Susan: The Houston Astros won the World Series last night–my hometown, so happy, so proud, especially after the hurricane this year, great success story. So, I’m very excited, but that is not why we’re here, right?
Kevin: It’s just bonus, it’s bonus.
Susan: It’s just bonus today. My name is Susan Fennema, that’s how you pronounce it. It’s scary looking. I should’ve stuck with my maiden name Dean so everyone could spell it. I run a small business Beyond the Chaos and I help small business owners get their lives back. I help them through organizing their operations and their project management so that they are not working 24 hours a day. I love it. I didn’t know it was a calling but it is. So, that’s why I’m here.
Kevin: All right.
Susan: Glad to be here.
Kevin: Delighted to have you joining us, Susan. I realized, I was thinking about this panel, it was just over a year ago now that you and I had a sit down face to face when I was in your area attending a conference and not Dallas.
Kevin: All right, and Marvin.
Marvin: Hi, good morning everyone. My name is Marvin Towler and I am from Long Branch, New Jersey. My day job: I am the Director of an educational nonprofit that works with inner city students to help them develop the life skills necessary for college success. I am also a productivity trainer, that’s kind of one of my passions, but when we get to purpose, I think it’s about helping people transform their lives by disrupting their limiting beliefs.
Kevin: Hey Marvin, let me ask you, do you have a volume? Some people are saying they can’t hear you.
Kevin: I can hear you.
Marvin: Here you go, I could just move in a little closer. It will be shining a little bit more but … If you didn’t hear what I said, I work with inner city kids helping them develop the life skills that are necessary for college success, and my through line in life, is helping people break down their limiting habits and beliefs and behaviors so that they can get to the success they want in life. Whatever work I do, that’s what I’m trying to weave into whatever the stated goal is, what the real goal is, helping people get free to get success.
Kevin: Awesome. And Christy, you’re not really here to contribute to the panel, but we don’t want you just to sit there in silence. So say hello, tell us about you and why you’re joining us.
Christy: Hey guys, I’m Christy. If you’ve been joining us for a few times, you’re probably getting a bit familiar with me. I am helping on the back end of things, so I’ll be here in the chat, keeping an eye on Facebook. If you have technical troubles write in, let me know.
Kevin and I met a couple years ago, I think, and reconnected this spring, and it’s been an absolute joy to be working on this summit with Kevin.
Kevin: Well, thank you Christy. We’re going to talk more about this tomorrow: I’ll just tell you, I had no idea how mammoth of an effort a summit was. Really, I didn’t, and there is an amazing team that’s pulled together to make this happen, and we want to give them plenty of shout outs, but Christy is kind of the glue that pulls it all together. And Susan, you could appreciate this because of your project management background, Christy has project managed this thing and just made it happen. So, thank you Christy, we’re glad you’re here. You will see her in the chat; she’s managing the chat, so if you have a comment or a question, feel free to ask it there, she’ll get it to us.
So let’s start with a really simple question; this is one I frequently ask of guests on the Higher Purpose Podcast. Your personal journey to purpose, Karen, Susan, and Marvin, more of a straight line or a zigzag?
Susan: I’m definitely, pretty much: straight line.
Kevin: Let’s get the other votes then we’re going to come back. Karen?
Karen: I was going to say straight line.
Kevin: Wow, Marvin. Okay, I’m feeling better Marvin.
Marvin: And then go this way and then go back in a straight line.
Karen: Can I expound? So for me though, I’ve always had a sense of purpose in what I am doing, and so that has always been an anchor for me. But, in terms of the specifics of how that plays out, obviously there’s ebb and flow.
Kevin: And Susan, straight line.
Susan: Pretty much a straight line. I mean, it’s evolved, and we’ll get into that over time, but if you look back on it… I would have never thought I would be doing what I now, today, a long time ago, but it has evolved in a fairly straight line. I haven’t gone off on a bunch of different careers or a bunch of different pursuits. It’s evolved directly, pretty much.
Kevin: That’s great. I’m happy to hear that. That has not been my case. I know far more people that can say zigzag, so I am glad to see the straight line column growing, but I am more like Marvin: zigzag, corkscrew, black hole at times. You know something I’ve learned, and we had a bit of a discussion yesterday, and it was so good that I wanted to repeat the question with you all.
Think about your awakening to purpose. Now, for Susan and Karen, that have been more straight line, this may have been an earlier awakening. For some of us that are in the zigzag, we have multiple awakenings to purpose. I mean, there was an original, but then there is a fresh awakening. So, just pick one and share with us briefly about your awakening to purpose. I’m going to ask Marvin to go first on this.
Marvin: Well, you know, that’s a great question.
Kevin: Thank you. It’s a fun question.
Marvin: It’s a great question, and that’s how you get far in life, is by asking great questions. Just to go to one, because mine was so zigzag, I’ll go pretty far back to when I was in high school to a time when we were having an assembly during Black History Month, and my history teacher was this amazing…she was a memorable teacher, she was amazing and she had always wanted me to get involved in student government and leadership. I definitely had resisted, but now I was a senior, and the Black Culture Club had kind of fallen apart and disappeared and she approached me, and I was able (and this is where you have a purpose but I can’t tell you how it happened)…but I was able to mobilize. We put on this incredible program with the entire school in the library.
And the reason why I think of that is because, a while ago on Instagram or Facebook (maybe a couple of years), I did a “Throwback Thursday” and I was like, “Wow, I’ve been speaking publicly for 30 years, since I’m 17 years old.” And there’s this picture, and I remember after that happened, feeling powerful and feeling empowered and people coming up to me. And I don’t even remember consciously what I said, but I said things that moved them and helped them.
So that was a time when I knew I was on purpose. Because of my journey that went away for a while, but that was one time and now I can look back and go, “There’s this leadership quality that comes from within: power versus force, that I’ve been blessed with, that I don’t always use, and I think that’s why it’s so zigzag.
Kevin: We’re going to come back to that Marvin so hang on. Susan-
Susan: I’ve always known I can organize things. Shoot, when I was three years old I would organize my mother’s button collection as a game. What changed for me to find purpose, was when I stopped acknowledging or recognizing only that I was good at it and that I could make a living at it, but how I could affect others through it. So the purpose became: initially I was doing some home organization, so helping people be better in their homes and not be stressed out because they were surrounded by clutter all the time, and that evolved into a business. Watching some of the small business owners I’ve worked with come back and literally say, “You gave me my life back.” That’s a purpose.
There’s a distinct line for me of when it changed from “I do this for myself to make a living” to I do this to help other people.
Kevin: Wow. Okay, we’re going to come back to that one too. Help me remember that, Christy. Karen?
Karen: Well for me, it started when I was really, really young, probably elementary school. By design, just who I am, I’m a helper, so I became a helping professional. Helping has always been my theme, that’s been my purpose basically my whole life. I was just thinking about it, and I remember as a young child reading a book called Cherry Ames. Most people probably won’t remember that, but she was a nurse and she was a helper, and I remember being so inspired by her and how she helped. I ended up becoming a marriage and family therapist, and so that was my first career, and it was really about helping people communicate.
And then it has morphed over the years so that now I help people get their books done and their books out into the world. I jokingly call myself a book midwife, you know, from conception to delivery. I really help people get that out there, but whether it’s been through helping people communicate better or get their communication through books or whatever, I’ve always been a communicator, a book person, and a helper.
So, that’s my straight path, but the way I’ve done that has changed over the years.
Kevin: From the chat: Susan Axelrod said she read and remembers the series; she has read every book. And Susan, you may have already answered this question, or tapped on it, but let me ask another question. What are you doing when you feel most connected to your purpose? I’ll let you go first, Susan.
Susan: Sure. I feel most connected to my purpose when I’m having one on one conversations with clients. It’s interesting because, they are asking questions, that when you do it all the time, in your head it’s, “Doesn’t everyone know this?” But you feel empowered, because you’re actually sharing knowledge, that you just count as base knowledge, that’s helping other people totally change the way that they do things and look at things. When I’m having those conversations with people: something which ties into a theme from throughout this whole week: the relationship quality of building that relationship and seeing that person grow, and being able to come back months later, and just be so proud of them. That’s when I really feel most empowered and on purpose.
Kevin: Okay. For you Karen, what are you doing when you feel most connected?
Karen: Well, right now … When I’m talking to people and helping them figure out what they want to do with their book and getting that launched out into the world, that lights me up and I love that. I was also thinking, and maybe it’s not appropriate to say now, but I was also thinking I had a really, really hard season a number of years ago; it was actually about eight years when I did family caregiving. I sort of had to put my purpose, it’s probably not the right word, but what I was doing, aside because I ended up caring for my mom and my mother-in-law and my sister-in-law; had a series of people that I was caring for.
And so, did I feel like I had a purpose at that time? Yes, but that was very different than what I do. I needed to do that and there was a sort of wilderness experience during that time. I was just taking care of people, but that was a really valuable thing to do, and I’m a helping professional so I could do that well but it was still different.
So, it’s a bit of a tangent but …
Kevin: Well, we’re going to come back and talk about that, and I know part of your story because that came out in one of our pre-conversations. We’re going to talk about that, but the way I would describe that is your pursuit of your personal purpose was interrupted by life.
Karen: Yeah, that’s a good way to put it.
Kevin: And that happens folks. There are times when we think, “This is what it is” and then “Boom!” life has a different plan, and things happen, and all of a sudden that becomes part of your purpose. It doesn’t derail you from your purpose, it becomes part of your purpose.
So Marvin, what are you doing when you feel most connected?
Karen: When I get out of my own way and I do things like this.
Kevin: Lean in, lean in a little to the mic.
Karen: When I get out of my own way and I do things like this online summit, for instance, or when I’m training. Susan hit on a really good point: I think anyone who is on this summit, as well as hundreds of thousands of people across the world, we all have something to give and share. We take it for granted because we think, “I read this book” or “I did this, this information is readily available,” but not everyone has access to it.
So, when I’m out of my own way, and I’m sharing the knowledge and the things that… I don’t know if it’s knowledge or learnings…ideas, that’s it. When I’m sharing ideas, and particularly about success and success is not just about money, even though that’s kind of one of my factors of success, but I know it’s not about that, health, wealth. Whenever I share an idea that can impact someone’s idea, and I see their pupils get large, or you just see the light bulb go off, that’s when I’m feeling most empowered. It’s funny: empowering others is when I’m most empowered.
I’m pretty good at public speaking; I should get better. And I say that because I know that I’m better than 98% of the population, but when I get feedback, and people are so moved, it’s being moved, that is when I’m in my power.
Kevin: Awesome, awesome. I’m trying to think. This has just been an amazing week folks. So many conversations, so many interactions and it’s hard to remember who said what when. But yesterday afternoon, I was in a conversation with someone that had participated in yesterday’s panel, and they were saying that when we had this question, the common thing they saw was that when people are on purpose, others are involved.
We have a conversation today, a featured conversation from Dr. Rhonda Kehlbeck of the Halftime Institute. And the Halftime Institute is an organization that’s built out of…, its origins can be traced back to a book from Bob Buford which was called Halftime “Moving from success to significance” was the subtitle of the book years ago. And one of the things I realized in that journey for me, is that it’s really easy for success to be about you. I think we should have better and broader definitions of success and I know Marvin has that.
In the traditional definition of success, it’s about trinkets and toys and accumulation but significant always involves others. You can’t be significant in isolation. So purpose, when we’re really in the pursuit of purpose, always has some kind of overflow to involve others.
So let me ask a question, and I’m sure people watching the call can relate to this, and I know I can relate to this; only those of you that have felt this can answer. Have you ever felt stuck in the journey, stuck on your path and if so, what happened to help you get unstuck? Raise your hand if you’ve been stuck. Okay, so everybody, it’s an all-play.
Who wants to go first?
Susan: I can jump in. In the mid to late ninety’s, I was in Houston. I was single and in my mid 30’s. I was working in a company I felt like I could bring more to, but they didn’t really like my style. So I was thwarted; I had to hold back what I could bring. And I said, “You know, it’s time for a change.” I’ve always wanted to work in advertising; I looked for a job in advertising and I moved to Chicago. I didn’t know anyone in Chicago but I moved. I made a dramatic change in order to follow my purpose and to get more involved and to be able to use that skill set more to its fullest.
It was scary, right? I left my family, I left where I’d lived my whole life and moved to a whole other state. It was also very empowering; being able to meet more people, do more things and bring that service into other people’s lives.
Kevin: So this reminds me of a comment Mike Kim made in yesterday’s conversation. Mike Kim was one of yesterday’s featured conversationalist.
And just to kind of connect the dots, it was through a Mike Kim meeting that I actually got to meet Karen Anderson live in person earlier this year.
But Mike made the point that in his journey he was sometimes stuck, that he didn’t really know what was next, Susan, like you, but knew the pain of staying where he was too great.
There are times, folks, that we don’t always have the map laid out for us, but when you just take a step because you know there’s something more and so you just take a step. It’s one of those “leap and the net will appear” thing; I’m not always advocating that.
Karen or Marvin, who wants to go next?
Marvin: I’ll go next. I’m actually in that place right now, that Susan just described. I’ve been with my organization for five years, and I definitely have been thwarted; I’ve been held back. Now I work with some very esteemed traditional educators inside of the public school system. I’ve gone all through that system, all the way to a professional degree, having attended law school, and I’m here because I don’t practice law. I have great ideas about…,and the biggest education I got…, I’ve read more…
Let me back up, if you know anything about law school, it’s just a ton of reading, a ton.
Kevin: Which is why I’m not a lawyer. I was considering Law School and a lawyer friend of mine, who was mentoring me at that point asked, “Do you like reading?” I’m like, “Not that much.” So if I liked reading as much then as I do now Marvin, I would have been fine, but keep going where you’re going.
Marvin: You just hit the nail right on the head. See, I went to law school because I did not have a mentor. I did not have access to someone who was an attorney to tell me that it would be like being a librarian of the most boring stuff you could read. My point is, I have read way more now. I sometimes read six books in a month because I’m passionate about success, because I thought I was on this track where, and this is where I’m struggling, we’re I’m stuck; we’re telling kids to go to college, which I think is a great thing if they’re going there to think, if they’re going there to learn how to think or if they’re going to build a network.
So some of the traditional things that we do…, so I’m always throwing in my transformational stuff from every course I’ve taken because it’s the life skills that are going to make a difference. I’m literally stuck, and last night there was a breakdown where my boss, with whom I have been butting heads for years, and it’s apparent because I’ve been praying for life direction and for breakthroughs in abundance, and I’m like, “It’s time.” There’s never a good time to make that leap but there always is a time and what I can say is …
Kevin: Whoa, whoa, whoa, say that again, and tweet this Susan. I see you over there saying some things, you’re tweeting. Say that again buddy, that’s good.
Marvin: For everyone out there listening, there is never a good time to make the leap, but there always is a time when you know you have to and you will suffer if you don’t, way worse than any catastrophic scenario that you’re making up of why you can’t do it. It’s never a good time to do it, but there always is a time. I’m very close to that time because…, and once you do that, what I’ve found that you can do…, and this has all evolved over last night, is that you open up your awareness. I heard this morning, resourcefulness leads to more resources.
It’s perfect for me to be on a summit about navigating north and what your purpose is, and to be a little off purpose, because it’s bringing me back to myself. So it’s just a great honor to be here and opening up my awareness to all the resources and people around me who have gone before me and to the mentorship you were talking about.
Kevin: So Marvin, I have to tell you, man, I’m getting misty-eyed here. I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for being vulnerable to share that and while you’re talking about this, it was because of a book that actually allowed us to meet, true?
Marvin: Yeah, absolutely.
Kevin: We had both read the book, The One Thing and were part of a program that was time blocking mastery. It was the founding members club, there were 100 of us that went through this, beginning of last year, and Marvin was one of the few people that I really connected with through Facebook; a community. And we connected and we have stayed connected because of a book. So, I really appreciate you sharing that Marvin. Man, you’ve just had some real tweetables in there, more than one the: “resourcefulness leads to more resources.”
There’s somebody that is watching this, whether live or streaming or recording later that you can relate to that. You feel a need to make a leap. It doesn’t look like now is the time, it’s not a comfortable time to make a leap but there is a time to make a leap. It’s never good, it’s never easy but you make a leap. Karen?
Susan: I’m so excited for Marvin right now by the way, I’m so excited. The opportunity that you have to open up in front of you, I’m very excited.
Kevin: Karen, have you commented on this yet? I don’t think so.
Karen: Not yet.
Kevin: Do you remember the question?
Karen: Yeah, I think I do. This may sound a little bit strange but … So for me there was a time that I felt really stuck because I was in conflict about two things that really, really were important to me in terms of purpose. That was that I was a marriage and family therapist and I was working full-time, and then I discovered I was pregnant. And I wanted, with my first daughter, and I really, really, really wanted to stay home but I really, really didn’t want to stay home. And so, I was really conflicted about what I should do because my career was important, but my family was important, and I knew I had purpose in both things; that I really wanted to be a good mom, but I really felt like I had some things to offer as well.
It was a time that I felt very, very stuck. So I decided to make the leap to stay home with my daughters and that was very challenging for me. I struggled with it, so I decided to get in a Ph.D. program. I thought, okay, that way I would sort of stay home but I’d be in school which wouldn’t be the same thing.
Again, there’s a faith element that I have, but I felt like God was saying no, that’s not what you need to do because basically you’re trading school for a full-time job. So it’s like, “Okay, great.”
Then I applied to an MSW JD program, a law school program, and I thought well, I’ll go to law school because that’s not the same as a PhD; it’s a completely different program.
Kevin: It’s worse.
Marvin: It’s the quickest doctorate degree; it’s three years.
Karen: Yeah, so I got in that program and I feel like God was saying to me, “No, that’s not what I want you to do.” And I was like, “Dang it, okay.” Finally, I was like, okay, I really am committed to being home with my girls and then I felt like this door opened up through a colleague where I ended up going to a private practice at night, and so I was able to work in the evenings, and I was able to stay home with my girls during the day. Now was there cost to that, yeah there was, I was a little cranky.
The bottom line was I felt like I was able to, to use the word “navigate”, I was able to do that, but I never would have gone straight to that kind of evening private practice stay at home. That’s not how I started. So I felt stuck, but I think that sense of being open to looking at things differently and then when you’re beating your head up against the wall and the door’s not opening, then maybe that’s sort of a sign.
So anyway, I don’t regret doing that and that kind of led to different things for me. I was a little crazy during that season but it was a good thing for me to do.
Kevin: Okay, there’s something that occurred in the chat, that picked up on a thread of the conversation, that now I just want to do a shout out to a book. Several people have talked about “Leap.” There is a book The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. Marvin, I think you just said in the chat you’ve read it three times over the last year.
Marvin: Yes, I have. And it’s because I’ve been stuck. I’ve been stuck for two years. So I read that book, it’s a great book and just before you go back to that, there was something when Karen was speaking that really hit home with the question, the original question, of how do you get unstuck. For people listening, for me one thing that really helped is making a decision.
Susan: Yes, definitely.
Marvin: You want to get unstuck: make a decision and then act on it.
Kevin: Yes, and both parts of that are equally important. Making a decision, but it’s not enough to make a decision unless you take action on the decision made. Because I’ve made a lot of decisions in my life. I could make a list of decisions I made that I didn’t take action on. Taking action, and that’s something that was a conversation earlier in the week. We can go there if you want; we don’t need to go there. I’m not introducing the topic to go there, but action leads to clarity. With action comes more clarity folks, so if you haven’t heard one of those other conversations the importance of action …
Marvin, because we’re talking about The Big Leap I will tell you this, The Big Leap was introduced; I lead a mastermind group, the higher purpose mastermind. Somebody in the group mentioned it earlier this year, we decided to read it as a group. Read it as a group, processed it as a group, processed it with another friend who’s on, I don’t know if she’s still on the call, was on the call, panelist for tomorrow, Anne Vartel, and I talked through it: how this meant, what it meant for us.
And Navigating North Summit, I didn’t realize this until we were in it. This was a big leap and we had taken the leap and didn’t know at the time that we had leaped. But all of a sudden, he was like along this journey, oh wow, we leapt.
So, you may not know you’re taking the leap when you do it, but taking the leap in. And so, just a little bit, I don’t want to get lost there, but Gay Hendricks talks about the zone of competence, those are things you’re really gifted to do. The zone of excellence, those things you do exceptionally well. But where we want to leap is into the zone of genius. And genius is going back to Thom Winninger’s conversation from Monday. Genius is when you are living in awareness of an application of your gift. The gift God has given you, your unique gift, when you’re living in that, no one else can do what you’re doing the way you’re doing it when you’re fulfilling your gift.
So, did Mindy get stuck there, lost there. Dr. Rhonda Kehlbeck, in her featured conversation today, she talks about encountering purpose in a most unexpected place, a kindergarten class, through a most surprising turn of events.
Have any of you just had one of those really wild moments, where this wasn’t where you went looking for purpose, and all of a sudden you’re just doing something because you were taking action, you’re like, “Oh wow, purpose showed up, purpose revealed itself.” Karen, I see you nodding your head.
Karen: So, I had taken this eight or nine years that I was doing family caregiving and I didn’t know what I was going to do. I knew that I wasn’t content just hanging out doing nothing but I didn’t know what I really…, I was just floundering. There was a conference that I heard about, actually, it was a direct response marketing conference (this was about three years ago). There was a conference and it was a very high end, very expensive conference. Like think like you could take a vacation with this conference.
There was no reason for me to go. I read about it and I ended up one morning, in tears, going. “I want to go to the conference so badly” because basically it was a high school reunion, like a lot of people that I’d worked with years ago, but I wasn’t working, I wasn’t doing anything. I was staying home. Everybody was settled doing their whatever. There was no reason to go to this conference, and I called a girlfriend of mine in tears and I just said, “I really want to go, but there’s a reason.” And she said, “Karen, you know better than most: life is short. Get there, do it, just go.”
And so, when I did, I ended up meeting this young man and ghost writing his book which led to me getting back into publishing. Attending that one conference I felt compelled to go to, ended up being the door that really has changed my life, and because of the people that I’ve helped get books out into the world, changed many lives. But it was really making that decision to get on the airplane and go. I felt very awkward, vulnerable, weird going to this when people said to me, “So what do you do? What are you doing now?” I was like, “Wow, that’s a great question.” Because I didn’t have an answer; I really wasn’t doing anything.
But, being present there ended up making the doors opened in ways that I never would have expected.
Kevin: Okay. I’ve got something to add to that but I want to defer to the panelist. Susan, Marvin?
Susan: I don’t know if I can say that there has been a time where I acknowledged purpose showed up; it might more be that I recognized it after the fact. I really believe that you find a purpose through action, through doing work and you discover it that waym, as opposed to the other way of “I need to find my purpose” and then going to work on that. Opposite. You find it through that action and so, I think a lot of the times I’m more aware that the purpose is showing up after the fact.
So I can say things like, “I moved to Chicago. I was a traffic manager.” Those are the people who move projects through an ad agency. I was a project manager for an ad agency and that ad agency shut down within nine months of me starting there and I had just moved across the country for it. The next job I got, I managed, over 10 years, close to a 100 people. And those 100 people, I guarantee you, even the ones that I ended up firing will tell you that they learned something from me. And in retrospect, that is a lot easier to see that purpose after the fact.
Marvin: I think that …
Kevin: Lean in.
Marvin: I think it’s time for me to get a new computer. I think that one time where it showed up unexpectedly, or the universe orchestrated it, was…I’m a big fitness guy, Kevin, you know that. I think that it’s very important to be healthy if you’re going to live a life on purpose because you want to be able to do all the things you want to do. So I think you really have to take care of that part of yourself. Part of my journey has been being a fitness kickboxing instructor and some Gay Hendricks, some Big Leap, Upper Limit stuff showed up all the time in my life.
There was one morning where, I had been the star instructor and I moved away and then I came back and they punished me by giving me the 6 AM class. If someone’s going to be at a fitness class at 6 AM, a kickboxing class, I have to be up around 4:30 because I have to be fully awake, fully energized because they’re dragging their butts there for me to energize them. One morning I just woke up, this is when I was living in Santa Barbara, California, and I had a, I was like, “Why am I doing this?” Didn’t get paid much but I loved it, being in front of people.
That morning I went in, I just went outside, it was like five o’clock in the morning. It was just brisk, the Pacific Ocean, and the sun was coming up and I was like, “This is why you do it,” just that moment. But I went to the class that day… (All of my classes were amazing), but I taught this class, and after the class a woman ran up to me and said, “Oh my God, do you always teach this class? I’m coming all the time.” I was like, “Yeah, I always teach this class.”
So the next day, I get a note and it said, can you please get Patti to sign her waiver. And so I look at her form, and I look at her email address, and it said, “Patty@chickensoupforthesoul.com”. I knew Jack Canfield, who lived in Santa Barbara, and I wanted to connect with him because I knew about him from the movie “The Secret,” this was the time that had dropped. And so, the next morning after she came to my class, and Patty was the woman who loved the class, I said, “Do you know Jack Canfield?” She said, “I’m the president of his company. How do you know Jack Canfield?”
I told her about the secret and the Chicken Soup For The Soul books. Long story short, about three months later, I was Jack’s personal and kickboxing instructor and trainer and they took me out to his seven-day “Breakthrough to Success” event and I taught kickboxing to like 200 people in the morning. And that’s when if you’re on purpose, whatever your purpose is, you can weave it anywhere. Through the kickboxing training, I was able to work with one of the top transformational leaders and help people set them up for a powerful day.
Just going to kick boxing class, that was not in my purview. I’d asked that day: “Why do I do this?” and that day is the day I met the woman who connected me to Jack Canfield.
Kevin: Wow. There are a couple of themes here, and there are some things that these conversations are touching on. And I’m trying to stay present in the moment and also present to the community that’s joining us, so watching some of the stuff in the chat.
It’s not always easy, is it? Viktor Frankl, whose book Man’s Search for Meaning, if you’ve not read that, I highly recommend that book to you. I’ve read it, re-read it, listened to it on Kindle, I mean on Audible. Viktor Frankl was a Jew who was in concentration camps in Nazi Germany and he was a psychologist, psychiatrist, psychologist I think. He saw all purpose and meaning, interchangeable words for many, purpose and meaning, as a powerful force to help people endure and survive the most difficult situations.
So Karen, you talked about, and you and I had had this conversation before, about a period of years where you were a caregiver to multiple family members in the last days of their lives. Let’s talk about when you’ve been discouraged. And I really want to find what can we do? What’s something that you’ve done that might help someone else who’s in that situation right now. That’s really kind of where I want to focus it, not so much just autobiographical but autobiographical to help others.
Karen: Well, I think I had situations, and again, when you get to a certain age this happens, when you have aging parents or people that you’re caring for. In my case, my sister-in-law was a widow with no children and she had breast cancer, and so I was able to care for her; I was doing most of this long distance. So, I was doing it in different cities. And so, I was flying places and I was making doctor’s appointments and I was managing estates and I was making arrange … I mean, doing it all.
I think the thing was that I learned, just in terms of survival, I needed to give myself permission to take care of me, because if I didn’t take care of me, I couldn’t take care of them. And there were many times it was really, really, really hard; I was exhausted. There were so many details, so much grief, and there was so much family dying. There were so many things going on, but I needed to take care of me, and I know it’s cliché, but the idea of being on an airplane and the mask drops down, they say to put it on yourself before you take care of the person next to you.
Kevin: I want to interrupt you and I want to dig a little deeper. What was something specific you did to take care of you?
Karen: I would get my mom tucked in at night, then I would basically, I would go back and I would make sure that I connected with my family, my girlfriends, my support system. I remember one night it was New Year’s Eve, I was in New York City, my sister-in-law was at Sloan Kettering. I was all but myself a New York City and I took myself out to dinner and I went to a really nice restaurant and then I came home and I called my family because I needed that support. I needed to take care of me.
And so, in taking care of other people, you can lose yourself really easily.
Kevin: Before we hear from Susan or Marvin, I just have to piggyback on that and say, Karen, I’m so glad you brought this community element in. We need other people; you can’t do this alone. If you are in a stuck place, hopefully there’s someone already in your circles of influence, your circles of connection. If not, find someone. Put yourself; make an intentional move.
I’d also go back to something Karen said earlier. When you went to the conference, there is really something, Jeff Goins in his latest book Real Artists Don’t Starve talks about community, and I interviewed him for the podcast recently. He talked about three levels of community. It’s a scene, so find a place where people are connecting. You went to a place where you found like-minded people. If you’re looking for one of those places, the Higher Purpose Community is one. It’s not the only one; it’s one. If you don’t know of one, we welcome you there.
Connect to a network. Marvin talked about that earlier. At a scene you connect to a network and you have other people that can help you and then you make personal connections and you leverage that and you work through the network. So those are just some really good things there.
Susan or Marvin, anything to say? To add to this … An encouragement for someone who’s feeling stuck, someone who’s in a painful place.
Susan: There are absolutely times when you cannot get yourself out of the situation. Similar to Karen’s world. You can’t just say, “I’m not going to take care of these people.” I think that when you get in those situations, I’m just going to speak from giving advice, because I don’t think I’ve had one like that where there wasn’t a way out. But to make sure that you are also finding ways to serve that purpose.
Karen, you say you are a healer and you take care of people, right? You were serving your purpose. And so if you can kind of tap into that, I think it can make you feel better when you’re stuck. To get unstuck, if you’re not in a situation that you can’t walk away from, you have to change.
And I’m sorry about this sun, it’s crazy.
You have to make a change. As we’ve said, make a decision and act on it. That is change, don’t be afraid of it, go for it. Just do it.
Kevin: Just do it.
Marvin: I would add that as we shared, there are some things that you just don’t control. The thing to do, is to ask yourself, “What can I do?” and “What can I control?” For me, the easiest thing is…, people are like, “What are you going to do?” I’m going to go for a run or I’m going to lift weights. Why? Because I’ll feel better, because I will change my state. And when you change your state, which can be as simple as taking deep breaths, when you change your state, you’ll have access to more resources and then look for small wins. Well, what can I do? What can I control?
What I’ve learned is that success is sequential, not simultaneous and success is getting what you want; it can be taking care of your family. Whatever it is, but there’s always one little step you can take. So do something to change your state and become more resourceful, and then do one small thing and then build upon that.
Kevin: I love that Marvin and I just want to say it a different way, and I’m trying to think who said this, but I remember that Viktor Frankl illustrates this: you always have a choice. There’s always a choice; it may not be an easy choice, but there’s always some kind of choice. And the choice may be what Marvin just said, and I want to just call out because Marvin and I, it’s been quite a while since we’ve actually connected for a conversation. I didn’t realize these difficulties, Marvin.
I want to commend you for answering the invitation to show up and be part of a panel, because you could have easily said, “Gosh, I’m in a place right now where I don’t have this figured out.” Folks, that’s what I think people are loving about the panel discussions. We did not pick people that have written books on how to know purpose in three easy steps. Those who I invited to the panel are people that I know from a variety of spheres and connections who are pursuing purpose, living purpose, embracing purpose. So that’s why you’re here. It’d been easy to say, or it would have been easy to not talk about that. So I appreciate you being vulnerable to say, “Hey folks, this is really real, as recent as the last 24 hours we were doing this around purpose.”
Marvin: Thank you very much. It was like Susan said, it’s the awareness, because I’ve had such a breakdown, I was like, “No, awareness. You’re on this panel” and then things just started showing up. Like even a friend of mine sent me one of those chain emails on Facebook and it was like the money truck is pulled up to your house. And I was like how perfect is this right now. Nothing came out of a picture of a truck of money spilling out on Facebook but it’s just telling you, you have what you need.
I literally said to my wife, I said, “You know what, I almost forgot who I am. I’m Marvin John Tyler.”
Kevin: Boom. So, we’re moving to the top of the hour. What’s the final word or an action or an encouragement that you would just want to leave with the group; the people that are listening? What’s just something that you’ve learned from your journey, something that inspires you, whatever it is. I don’t want to confine you to an answer but just something that you’d share. We’ve had some serious discussion, so let’s leave on a lighter note. Encouragement on the journey. Susan? Susan’s going to say the Astros won.
Susan: They did. And you know what, they didn’t give up and that’s really one of my tips. Don’t give up. If you’re not happy where you are, if you do not feel like you’re adding value to whoever you’re supposed to be, whether that’s yourself, your family, the people you’re working with, a community. Wherever you find that value, you need to get yourself there. And you don’t get yourself there always by introspection. Often it’s just, “Hi!” Go to do something; so do it.
Kevin: I’m a big fan of introspection but there are times in my own life, too much introspection becomes naval gazing.
Susan: It can be.
Kevin: And you just get stuck, and you get lost and it can be bad. I’m sorry I didn’t even watch a single game of the World Series, I’m not that big of a sports fan, period. But I did read enough to know this. When you said, “Don’t give up, even when the odds are against you, even when it looks the most impossible, when it looks like all hope is gone, don’t give up. Susan, thank you.
Let’s go to Karen. I’m going to let Marvin John have the last word, so Karen, would you?
Karen: I would say, I think one of the things even in the Viktor Frankl quote, whatever, is when you feel so out of control, when the world is swirling around you and you don’t feel like you have a lot of options and you can’t get out. Like in the caregiving situation, you can’t just go, “You know what? I don’t feel like doing this today,” because you have to and you have to persevere when things are really, really, really getting hard.
I would say one of the things that people often don’t do is, they don’t celebrate small wins. And sometimes I think you have to celebrate the small wins. That kind of attitude of gratitude, that if you can celebrate small wins, it gives you a little bit of spark, it gives you a little bit of hope and it helps you to focus on what the wins are. What are the little things that you can take away, and they don’t have to be big, but you have to be aware of them. And I think that that can help you with your perspective when you feel like you’re out of control.
Kevin: Wow. Okay. This is an intensely rich, rich, rich discussion. Thanks for that, Karen. Marvin?
Marvin: Wonderful sharing. Thank you so much. And just to build on what’s been said, if that’s even possible, you look around, you’re like, “I have this unfinished room behind me” and I call it my war room, and it’s just a reminder that I’m a work in progress. On one of my walls I have posted up right in front of me is, two things for people to take away. It is a slow process but quitting won’t speed it up.
Kevin: Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, say that again because that is good.
Marvin: It’s a slow process but quitting won’t speed it up.
Kevin: Wow. I’m going to tweet that later.
Marvin: And as someone who ran competitively track and cross country, I like to move fast, and I love what we’ve shared about the small wins because I have not personally taken enough time to celebrate them. But that’s something I’ve taken in, and that’s why I remind myself that it’s slow, but quitting won’t speed it up. I really want to leave people with this and it’s a quote by one of my favorites (I’m an old school guy), Norman Vincent Peale, and it’s “Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result but the cause of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow, but any action is better than no action at all.” So, get moving. When you’re stuck, get moving.
Kevin: Wow, wow, wow, wow. I hope you have enjoyed this half as much as I have enjoyed this. I want to thank Karen, Susan, and Marvin for joining in just being so open, real, raw to contribute to the conversation. I really hope this has encouraged you. I’m telling you if something out of this didn’t encourage you, your encourager button is broken. We need to get you some help on that somewhere.
I want to encourage you to watch the featured conversations from today. This is being recorded, the recording will be shared; you can find it on the navigatingnorthsummit.com website and the Facebook page. If you want to point other people to this, share this with others.
One big call to action I want to mention is if you are going it alone, don’t continue. Find somebody. Reach out somewhere. This was just awesome. In the Navigating North journey, we are assembling all of the recordings, all of the recordings from the featured conversations and the recordings of the panel conversations. If you want to have these ongoing, there is an opportunity to purchase all of that. When you purchase it, you get it in video, audio, and transcript for whatever way you want to read it. I look forward to reading and listening to this one again, I can assure you of that.
So, I just want to thank you. This has been an amazing conversation. Thank you to all that have joined us. The attendees, I hope you’ve benefited. We’ve monitored your feedback; responded to your feedback. If you joined us by Facebook live, thank you. We’re having fun. Purpose is fun, and I just believe this ,and I know the folks here with me believe this: the world is a better place when more people are passionately pursuing purpose. So, we want to just encourage you to keep navigating north on your journey and we’re thankful that you allowed us to contribute to it today.
Marvin: Thank you, Kevin.
Karen: Thanks Kevin, thanks everyone, this is great.