Chapter 17 of my First book: Firming up MY Foundation. My personal (and professional) foundations
CHAPTER 17: Firming up MY Foundation. My personal (and professional) foundations
A picture of my teeth, or what was left of them,
6 hours into 34 hours worth of dental surgery in a little over a year.
It cost me the equivalent of my first year of salary in the workforce.
Note to self: Don’t forget the principle of compound Interest.
It applies not only to money, but also to maintaining your body.
Or, in this case, not maintaining it. Neglect compounds quickly.
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance” – Oscar Wilde
April 2014 to March 2016. Flossing my teeth. First, I need some teeth to floss.
In a few minutes, you are going to read about a 100-point self-assessment that I took in early 2006. In it, you were awarded 1 point if you brushed your teeth daily. Well, I eventually was able to make that a habit, and check that one off, but it had not been much of a habit previously, because I no longer had many of my teeth left. I had neglected my teeth, and the rest of my body for so long, that I was losing teeth and the use of my teeth at an alarming rate, yet I was not doing much about it.
I had stopped taking care of myself at one point during the first half of my life and that included my teeth. I could not be bothered going to see the dentist or the doctor or any other heath care professional for that matter. Sure, if I had a cavity I would have it filled, but that was the exception. I don’t even think that I had any dental floss in my apartment when I was younger, and I certainly did not use any of it if I did. When my teeth started to crack and I started to lose some of the teeth on the right side of my mouth I just got used to eating on the left side of my mouth. That was my approach in those days. My mom, would not be proud.
It never occurred to me to go check up on what was causing my teeth to crack. When I finally got around to doing so, after I had decided to take better care of myself, I found out that my mouth was out of alignment which caused my teeth to rub together at night. Rubbing and slowly disappearing, and along with them, my “Colgate Smile”, which was not much of one in those darker days of the first half of my life. I had neglected myself and my health and it had taken its toll. Kind of like the concept of compound interest in accounting, but in this case, it was the neglect on my body that was compounding and not the money. Luckily for me, there was some money that was compounding as well, and that was the money that I was putting away to fund my freedom 55 retirement plan. So, when I finally made the decision to start focusing and investing on living a heathier and happier life as opposed to hoping for some far-off concept of freedom and happiness that came from a corporate marketing campaign, I had the cash available to fix myself. How fortunate was that?
When I finally decided to start taking care of myself, and my teeth, I ended up spending more than a few hours on the dentist chair. I had a lot of catching up to do. I ended up spending over 30 hours on the dental chair over a period of a little over a year. One session alone lasted over 6 hours, the time it takes for me to drive to see my family in Toronto. Now when my kids complain of how long that drive takes, I ask them if they would prefer to be on the dentist chair. Oh, and guess what? There is just so much freezing one can safely be administered in one session. I found that out the hard way. It was toward the end of my 6-hour session when the dental surgeon was suturing my gums. The freezing was wearing off and I was not quite done and it was too dangerous to give me any more. “Tough it out Dave. I know you are an accountant and not a super hero, but tough it out. It is almost done.” Yikes. Thirty plus hours on the chair. That was just the time involved. Think of the cost. All of those hours on the dentist chair could have been used coaching clients, creating clients, writing stories, sharing stories etc. In accounting jargon, we call that cost, opportunity cost. And what about the cost of the procedure itself. Let’s put it this way. It was the same amount of money that I made my first year out of university. Every single minute worth of it. Yikes. Remind me not to let things slip again.
Oh, and by the way. When the dental work was finally finished, it took me a while to get used to eating food on both sides of my mouth, but I must say, I like it! Oh, and looking in the mirror and admiring my “new” Colgate smile. Priceless!
March 25, 2016: I got my test results. My personal foundation test results. Time for a sabbatical.
One of the first courses that I ended up taking as I embarked on my new journey as a professional coach and business owner was called “personal foundations”. Apparently, it was important that if we coaches were going to be able to properly coach others then we had to have our own house in order. O.k. That seemed to make sense but how does one measure whether they have a solid personal foundation? Well, my coaching school came up with a 100-point self-assessment program called “Clean Sweep”. O.k. Well then, bring it on!
I had just spent the past few years working on firming up my personal foundation on both the personal and professional side of things so this should be a walk in the park. Maybe I can get an exemption from this course? That was my initial thinking, until I actually took the self-assessment and came out with a score of 56. Yikes. What’s with that? I barely passed! There were 4 sections to the assessment (1. Physical Environment, 2. Health and Emotional Balance, 3. Money and 4. Relationships) and I scored low on all of the questions with the exception of the ones that were related to health. I was not surprised to score low on the money side of things given that my annual revenues had recently fallen to zero dollars, i.e. the day that I handed in my computer to my former employer, but my relationship scores were even lower. Yikes! It might be time to consider some type of relationship 101 course. And while I was at it, I might also want to consider an emotions and/or Emotional Intelligence 101 course because my scores in that category were nothing to write home about either.
My own coach informed me that my score was actually not that bad for someone who was just starting out in coaching but I am not sure that resonated a lot with me. After all, I was the guy who just pulled a 360 on the healthy living front. I had just lost 100 pounds of body fat. I was the guy who just summoned up the courage to make one of the boldest career transitions, in, well, in his career. Wow. A score of 56. How could that be? Looks like I have more work ahead of me than I thought. What to do?
What to do? It seemed like I had a lot more change and transformation yet to go. This seems to be taking a lot longer than I had thought. “Well, Mister Taking it EASYer on Yourself”, How are you going to pull this one off? Starting up a new business, your first, AND firming up your personal foundation, which apparently has a fair bit of firming up yet to be done, especially on the relationship and emotional fronts, not to mention, the F word, Finances. Humm. Good question.
Well, I came up with what I thought was a good answer. It took me a couple of months to figure this little trick out, but eventually I did. My answer a.k.a. idea, was to take a year off. I would take a one-year sabbatical, but unlike other sabbaticals, where people would tour the world with a backpack or tour the Serengeti, I would focus 50% of my sabbatical on firming up my personal foundation and 50% on launching my business. I had yet to take a sabbatical year in my 50 plus years of life and what better topics to explore than these two.
So, I did it, I decided to take a sabbatical year. How did that change my approach you might ask? Not much on the activity side of things but very much so on the stress side of things since I no longer had any revenue targets. I did not have any revenue targets because I was on sabbatical, and as such, I did not feel as if I had a gun to my head forcing me to meet short term revenue targets. I was free to pursue things at a pace that I felt comfortable with for me. I could connect with whoever I wanted to. I could explore whatever I wanted to. No pressure. I could fund my business with savings in the interim. There was no rush. There was no urgency. I had worked hard during the first half of my life and it was now time to enjoy myself. It was time to enjoy further developing myself on both the personal and professional sides. It was time to enjoy my sabbatical! A sabbatical within my halftime journey of transformation. How cool is that!
August 2016. Tackling the L word
The summer of 2016 was when I decided to start tackling the relationship section of my clean sweep score, or lack thereof. Not only had I neglected my teeth during the later stages of my first half of my life, I had neglected a lot of relationships. I was getting better, but I was far from getting to where I wanted to be. So, I decided to take a page from “David Letterman” and use his Top 10 List approach to tackling this section and objective. I would put together a list of the names of the Top 10 people who I would like to strengthen my relationship with, and then I would come up with an approach to connect with each of them, in order to do just that. Coming up with an approach that would result in me being able to score some points in the relationship section of my clean sweep score and push me out of my comfort zone in this area as a bonus.
Well, it did not take me long to figure out a way to do just that. I was going to go for broke and try and use the one word that caused me more angst than the dreaded S-word and that was the L-word, a.k.a. LOVE. As I went through the clean sweep questions, it quickly dawned on me that I could not remember that last time that I had told someone, with the exception of my children, that I loved them. It had been so long that I had trouble saying it. Just imagining myself saying it, stressed me out. Guys are not supposed to be saying words like that. We like to talk about sports and work and other guy things, not love.
O.k. So that is what I would do. I was going to tell some folks that I loved them. Not just anyone but people who I actually did LOVE. I would start with a sub-set of the names in my list, in this case, my father and sister, and I would tell them that I loved them. That should get me a few more points in the self-assessment. Well, easier said than done, after all, this was the L-word and I was the shy, ostrich type guy. How was I going to make this one EASYer on myself?
Well long story short. I decided to practice. I decided to practice with a friend of mine. A friend who I had worked with for a long time. We had become, not just colleagues, but very good friends during our time together. I liked to share with her. She was a great listener and she seemed to understand this type of stuff. I was a dude and she was not. I would practice with her. Practice with her, and then try it out on my sister, since I felt that it would be the easiest with her given our relationship. So, I set up a call with my friend, and I practiced my pitch, and when I was ready to sign off from our call and go try it out for real on my sister, my friend told me something. She told me that she loved me, and I immediately responded back that I loved her. Wow. It was that easy. And when I reached out and told my sister, over the phone, that I loved her, she replied “Thanks for sharing that with me. I knew that. You did not have to tell me that because I already knew it, but thanks for saying it. How cute”. And when my sister next came to visit me with her daughters, the first thing they all said when they got out of the car was “we love you”. And my response? Yes, the dreaded S-word. I love you too.
So, What did I learn?
How did I make change EASYer on myself 😊 (or not ☹)
Have you ever heard of the concept that “it all starts with YOU”. Making and maintaining a change starts and stops with YOU! If that is the case, and you are the one WHO makes it all happen, does it not make sense that taking care of yourself will help you make that change a lot EASYer on YOURself?
I am not sure if it was EASYer neglecting myself in the first place ☹ or putting myself back together again. Talk about a lack of maintenance. A lack of self-maintenance. A lack of self-care. A lack of self-love. And it was not just my teeth. When I finally decided to turn things around, I spent a lot of time with a whole lot of other health professionals, including some that I had never even heard of before. I underwent quite the transformation. If you want photographic proof, I have included enough pictures in this book to hopefully get that point across. There are plenty more on my website if you require more evidence. It was my choice to let myself fall apart, and it was my choice to put myself back together again. Sure, it was costly, but you know what? I am worth it. Self-Care and Self-Love. Welcome back! I LOVE YOU buddy! Oh, and, Dad and Val and Rob, I LOVE the three of YOU as well! 😊
That was all about me. What about YOU?What are you doing to make your journey of change EASYer on YOU? 😊 (or not ☹)
What have you been neglecting?
How much is that neglect costing you?
LOOKING FOR SUPPORT FOR YOUR JOURNEY?