This Is Me
Ships weren’t built to sit in the harbor.
My ship set sail from the city of Brantford on December 1, 1953. Our family lived in a small 2 bedroom post war bungalow where my mom and dad raised 3 boys. I was the youngest and quite a surprise as my mother was in her early-40s when I was born. Three boys in one small bedroom and a coal burning furnace with no air conditioning – it wasn’t always pretty.
My parents were born during the early 1900s (1909 and 1910). They went as far a grade 8 in school. My father was a factory worker who never made more than $5.00 per hour. During WWII he served a Sargent in a mortar artillery platoon in North Africa. His men used to call him “the old man” because he was 29 years old when he enlisted. As a younger man he had played semi-pro baseball. My dad made his own beer and I helped. My mom was a factory seamstress that left that job to take care of our family.
I was born 6 weeks prematurely and weighed approximately 4 pounds. My first 6 months were spent in an incubator at the Brantford General hospital. My dad brought breast milk to me each day on his bicycle because he didn’t own a car. I have dyslexia. It is a neurological disorder I was born with. I notice it most when I am trying to spell or read. It can cause me to re-arrange numbers and words in my mind. I did not realize I had the condition until about 30 years ago. There was no such thing as “dyslexia” or “ADD” in those days.
I failed Grade 3 and Grade 5 and was labelled as a “slow learner.” I used to pray that the teacher would never ask me a question and I rarely made eye contact. Many times the back of my shirt would be soaked with sweat by the time class was over. Getting a C was great mark for me – A’s and B’s were out of the question. And in the early years when I was promoted to the next grade I was often put on “September Trial.”
Some of the guys I grew up with went to Kingston (prison) and it wasn’t Queens University.
As a child my earliest memories were that our neighborhood had dirt roads (asphalt, TV and private phone lines came a few years later). We also had a milk man, bread man and egg/potato man that made deliveries in horse drawn trucks.
I started working when I was 9 years old pulling copper wire out of the back of factory dumpsters and selling it for 5 cents a pound. That was my “allowance” (Friday’s scale night). By the time I was 12 I was working in a produce factory loading boxcars with 30 lb crates of corn stacked 10 high and taking salt tablets; I also worked as a caddy at the local golf course … I had money. Life was good!
A few years later my mother developed breast cancer. She underwent radiation and chemotherapy which lead to a “radical mastectomy.” On December 3, 1967 she died. I was in Grade 7 at the time. It was two days after my 14th birthday.
One month later I made a decision that was to change my life.
It was a snowy January night around midnight and I was taking my dog Duke for a walk. He was a Blue Tick hound that my parents had given me as a puppy when I was 5 years old. Standing behind a neighbourhood factory I decided to “go for it.” I was going to see what was on the other side of the hill and come back and help my friends that had already given up on life.
This sacred moment in my life began the 50 year process of chiselling me into a servant warrior.
That year I became an “A” student throughout the rest of grade school and high school. My dad died when I was in Grade 13. I went on to graduate in the top of my class from the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University. I also played some football and basketball – badly, but I had a lot of fun. Later I studied Electrical Engineering while beginning what turned out to be a 25 year career in the semiconductor industry. By the time my career had ended I was a corporate executive and revenue generated exceeded $1 Billion (that’s when a Billion dollars was worth something!) I was a Road Warrior, travelling about 60,000 miles per year – that’s a couple of flights per week throughout North America and the Pacific Rim (despite my occasional anxiety around flying).
In around 1990 I remember talking with one of my older brothers and commenting “Is this all there is?” I had accomplished more than I or anyone else ever thought I would. It was also around this time that I remembered the second half of the promise I had made to myself on that snowy January night in 1968. I realized that God had actually given me what I asked for 50 years earlier.
The emotional labor He has given me to do was to prepare for me to fulfil His purpose for my life. I was going to come back and help those who had already given up on life.
One of my dad’s favourite Shakespeare quotes was “to thine own self be true.”
I decided not to take either of 2 Vice Presidential roles within global corporations I had been offered so I could focus on what has become my life’s purpose over the last 17 years … helping executives and their organizations develop authentic leadership and emotional intelligence. Christ’s example of non-resistance, non-judgment and non-attachment to outcome is the “gold standard” of our physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual labor.
It was also around this time that I met the love of my life – February 6, 1993.
Ships weren’t built to sit in the harbor and neither were we. The love and safety we feel when we surround ourselves with a tribe of authentic, emotionally intelligent fellow travelers is our safe harbor. This is where we have come to reconnect, to recommit, to recharge and refuel. Our real work is out there, among the sheep and the wolves, and it is this work that we are being called to do. To shine our light into the darkness of others, and in the process inspire them to do the same.
God sent His only son to be the light of the world. With both love and compassion He commands and implores us to pick up our cross and follow Him on the road to Calvary and the beauty that lays beyond. We need to be searching for and developing more sheep dogs to inspire the sheep and battle the wolves.
Ships weren’t built to stay in the harbor and neither were we.
Would you like to learn how to become a sheepdog?
Would you like to learn how to lead the sheep and battle the wolves?
My Deepest Fear - By Marianne Williamson
My deepest fear is not that I am inadequate.
My deepest fear is that I am powerful beyond measure.
It is my light, not my darkness that frightens me.
I ask myself, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who am I not to be?
I am a child of God.
My playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around
I was born to make manifest the glory of God that is within me.
It is not just in me … it is in all of us.
And as I let my light shine, I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As I am liberated from my own fear,
My presence automatically liberates others.
Master of Business Leadership Podcast