Chapter 9 of my First book: Storm clouds on the Horizon. Coming up on MY NASTY TIME in MY NASTY ZONE

 In Book

CHAPTER 9: Storm clouds on the Horizon. Coming up on MY NASTY TIME in MY NASTY ZONE


MY DVD Collection
One of my tools for keeping my mind off of
MY worries, My troubles, and MY pain.
I had 1,126 of them at last count.
At an average viewing of 1.5 hours per day.
They could keep My Mind occupied, and off my worries, for a few years.
In fact, a sad fact, 3.08 years, to be exact.

“Life begins at the end of our comfort Zone” – Unknown

August 2003. Eating more + Moving less + Sleeping even less = Putting on the pounds = Loss of Energy

For someone who had never traveled over an ocean until he was well into his early thirties, I was catching up on my travel and fast. Between my work travel and the resulting airmiles travel, I was starting to see a lot of the world. I was also collecting a lot of hotel points. Collecting lots of hotel points and eating lots of hotel food. Can you say “room service”. There is nothing better, after a long day at work, then to settle down in bed in front of the TV and order up the works. And by works, I mean, an appetizer, a main course, a dessert and 2 drinks to wash it all down with. And don’t forget some chips and a chocolate bar for a snack later in the evening. Yum. Those were my eating habits in those days. Those habits did not leave much time for exercise, which, in those days, was restricted to answering the door when room service knocked. My weight in those days you ask? 260 pounds, at my heaviest, in August of 2003.

Can you say obese? Can you say medication? Medication to help me with my low good cholesterol levels and with my high bad cholesterol levels. Can you say pre-diabetic? I was not yet on medication on the diabetes front in those days but with all the sugar in my diet from all the chocolates and desserts and booze, I was well on my way to another prescription from my doctor. Can you say lack of energy? Lack of energy to do anything but sit around all day. Good thing for all my movies and pots of coffee and lots of football games on the TV on the weekends. Go JETS Go!

March 2009. Show me the Money, if not the Meaning

Once I had finally embarked on my journey of success, the years just seemed to start ticking away. My five-year work anniversary came and went quickly enough and then the big 1-0. Ten years! Wow. Not a whole lot of people work for the same employer for that long anymore. And before you knew it, I was coming up on 15 years. Fifteen Years. It would soon be 15 years since I had embarked on my journey to success. That is a lot of years. A lot of years of my life. Each of those years was represented by a row in the spreadsheet of the financial model that I developed at the time.  It was not a bad little model if I do say so myself. It had all my financial assets and liabilities seamlessly integrated together in order to give me the latest and greatest projections on how I was doing in meeting my goal of finding my freedom. Finding my freedom at age 55. MY freedom 55 plan. I had one row for each of the years that I had been with my employer, which included, the salary, bonus and my performance rating for the year. Year after year. Promotion after promotion. Raise after raise. Bonus after bonus. And things were looking good on the financial front.

Both me and my wife had well paying jobs, lots of savings and no debt. We were in the top percentile of the wealthiest people in Canada. Only about 20 years to go until Freedom 55. I could almost taste it. O.k., so I started out on my journey to success a little later then most people, but I had done a pretty good job of catching up, if I do say so myself. Or so I thought. Little did I know it at the time, but, within a few years from then, my assets were going to drop overnight by 50%. My future earnings power was going to drop overnight by the same amount. The only thing that was not going to drop was my debt level. It was going to shoot up and quite dramatically. It soon became “bye-bye Freedom 55” and “hello Divorce”. But more on that change later.

Anyways. Enough about the financial front, what about my career front?  Is that what my career had come down to? Annual performance targets, a raise, a potential bonus and an occasional promotion. In my case, I had pretty much advanced as far as I could short of becoming a partner with the firm, and I had ruled that option out from the get-go. There was no way that I was going to work those kinds of hours, and, besides, partners had to sell, and selling is just not part of my DNA, it never has been and it never will be.

So, where was I heading back then? What were my goals? What did I want to be doing five years down the road back then? After all, 20 years until retirement was still some ways off.  All good questions, but not the sort of questions that I was asking myself back then. I was taking things one year at a time. One set of performance expectations for one role at a time.

Was I heading in the right direction? Was I learning and growing? Again, some good questions but I did not have any rows in my spreadsheet for those types of things. Besides, before I knew it, Freedom 55 would be upon me and I would no longer have to worry about those types of things. Or, so I thought. Or, so I thought, until I came face to face with the dreaded S word. A word that was going to push me to the limits of my comfort zone.

April 2009. The Dreaded S Word. Can you say S-A-L-E-S!

Not thinking ahead on the career front was about to bite me in the ass. It turned out that if I wanted to spend less time travelling and more time in my home city with the kids, then I was going to have to start developing some expertise in some other areas on the career front and fast. Easier said than done. Especially when you have spent so long doing something that you know so well. How could I possibly be expected to turn on a dime?

Oh, and while I was at it, trying to figure out what I should be doing next, it was also time to start selling a few projects as well. After all, I was a Senior Manager and those were the expectations for that role. So far in my career, my level of technical experience and expertise pretty much sold itself. I was not a salesperson. How was I now supposed to be able to both sell and deliver in a space where I had no experience? No experience, and hence no comfort. As mentioned, I had tried to take on a sales role once previously at another employer and that had not ended well. I basically ended up walking away from that job. I had become so miserable that all I could think of doing to get out of that funk was to quit. Yes quit. Just fall on my sword. Hand in my resignation and put an end to the pain.

But things were different now. I had no commitments in those days and no kids. I was single in those days and I had no Freedom 55 plan to fund.  How was I going to pull this one off? I could look for something else but I would never be able to find something that paid as well as that role and we needed the money. Heaven forbid that we would drop below the top percentile on the wealth scale.

Oh! What to do? Well long story, short. Things started heading south fast. I no longer wanted to travel but I could not find any projects where I did not have to travel and that resulted into me not doing a whole lot of work and, as I was going to find out in short order, that was not going to be reflected well in my next annual performance appraisal.

May 2009. “DP”. Time to Shape up or Ship out. We better call in the Coach, “The Sales Coach”

I received a DP on my annual performance rating for the first time in my close to 15 years of working with my employer at the time. DP stands for Developmental Performance. Basically, it meant that it was time for me to shape up or ship out. That was the bad news. The good news was that my employer was ready to invest in ME. I was assigned a new Coach. A Performance Coach. In my case, part of my performance problem was my aversion to the word SALES. So, guess what? He was a Sales Performance Coach. One of the best in the region. One of the most senior and one of the most successful in the region. He actually loved the word sales. I guess my employer was hoping that some of that Love for Sales would rub off on me. Well, it turns out that their hopes were misplaced. Unfortunately for them and me, I was way too stuck in my comfort zone by the time they called in the cavalry.

My new coach picked up on my love for my comfort zone quickly and implored ME to get out of it but I could not. I could not because I did NOT BELIEVE that I could. And I was scared. And what do I do when I am scared? Well, in those days, I would hide.  I would hide in my basement watching movies. I would hide in my newspaper while hiding in the corner of the food court as part of one of my depression lunches. It turns out that others were ready to help me back then but without ME believing that I could be helped back then, it was all for naught. A waste of everyone’s time. Captain Courageous would have to wait. Captain Comfort Zone was not ready to leave the building, not yet anyways, but he was getting close. Close to leaving because his “Comfort Zone” was starting to become quite the “Nasty Zone”.

Hanging out in MY comfort home. More like hiding out.

As previously mentioned I had, over the years, created quite the comfort zone. It included a comfort home with several fridges full of comfort foods and comfort booze. It included comfort movies, at last count, over a thousand of them. It included comfort projects around the house, there always seemed to be one underway. And let’s not forget my freedom 55 plan, my dream that everything was going to turn out fine when I turned 55 and retired.

When I left the comfort of my home, I had my mobile comfort zones ready and waiting. Comfort zone lunch hangouts in each of the city’s where I travelled? Check! Comfort hotel rooms with room service in each of the city’s where I travelled? Check!

I had built or scouted out a lot of comfort zones. I had developed a lot of comfort zone strategies and approaches and tools. Stitch them all together and you have quite the impenetrable zone. In hindsight, I was quite the SME (Subject Matter Expert) in building and maintaining (and hiding in) comfort zones.

Things had gotten pretty scary for me in those days.  I still remember pulling into my driveway in those days. I still remember how safe it made me feel. It was almost as if there was an impenetrable shield covering my house in those days. I could actually see it when I turned the corner and saw my house coming up. I was safe in my house. I was scared when I would leave.  It got to the point where I just wanted to stay on my property all of time. It really was my castle. My castle of recluse.

Little did I realize it at the time, but I was building my own prison. Except for my children, it was becoming my prison of solitary confinement for I was shutting out more and more people as the days went by. And the more people I shut out, the nastier it got. The nastier it got, the more I wanted to hide out. Things were getting pretty nasty. Freedom 55 was starting to look pretty far off. How was I ever going to make it until then?

I had pretty much got to the point that I was just checking off the days on the calendar in those days. Checking off the days of my life. And there were still a lot of them to go until age 55. Or so I thought. But given my level of health at the time, and history of heart disease in my family, I probably had fewer years to go than I thought.


So, What did I learn?
How did I make change EASYer on myself 😊 (or not ☹)


In coaching, we talk about the importance of maintain BOTH our personal and professional foundations. Maintaining a strong foundation is supposedly a great way of making it EASYer to take care of OURselves and others. Taking care of ourselves on the PERSONAL side of things includes such activities as eating healthy, sleeping enough, drinking enough (water and not booze), exercising enough, respecting ourselves, honouring ourselves, caring for ourselves, connecting with others, etc. Taking care of ourselves on the PROFESSIONAL side of things includes such activities as continuous learning, growing, stretching, connecting with others, etc. In my case, in this phase of my life, I was not taking care of myself on either of those fronts. I was not taking care of my foundation, and hence myself, at all. ☹



That was all about me. What about YOU?What are you doing to make your journey of change EASYer on YOU😊 (or not ☹)


What zone are you spending most of your time in these days?



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