How I Made it from Remedial English to 5th Avenue

I love being UNSTUCK. Four years ago I couldn’t say that. I was stalled in my work and having to manufacture energy to bring my best. Can you relate?
The journey to regaining traction in my career has been amazing — not all roses, by any stretch. There have been ups and downs, times when it has felt really hard, and moments when the adrenaline rush was overwhelming..
Last week was a reminder of how far we have come. I say we, because there are people who have encouraged me on my journey. My wife, Laura, tops the list. She is literally a treasure to me. Without her, I don’t even want to think about it.
Back to last week … Laura and I had the opportunity to visit New York, with our friends, Dan and Judy Webster (other helpers). Dan and I were celebrating the launch of our new book, UNSTUCK, which was featured in the window display at the Barnes and Noble on Fifth Avenue.
As I stood there, I couldn’t help but think back to my Remedial English class with Mrs. Franklin, my freshman year of college. Mrs. Franklin told me I had potential if I ever cracked the code on the whole the sentence thing, but I’m pretty sure she had no visions of Fifth Avenue for me, or Barnes & Noble for that matter.
Our Uber driver that morning said to us, “New York, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.” So I’ve heard … thanks, Mr. Sinatra. It raised a question, how do you make it from remedial English to the Big Apple? I can identify at least four things that were required. If you intend to reach your dream, I’m guessing you will need all four as well.

  • Time. You’ve heard it before, but there is no such thing as an overnight success. It has taken me thirty years of hard work, desire, effort, and energy to get where I am. I’ve hit the publish button on this blog 969 times over the past eight years. I keep trying to show up and add value. If you want to win, perhaps the best strategy is to outlast your competition. I guess that means part of my secret is I’m old. I don’t feel old, though. I feel young and alive and UNSTUCK. You can too.
  • Pain. A few years ago when I was stuck, Dan and I sat in a driveway in Georgia and he wisely said, “At some point you are going to be miserable enough to man up” … (he was actually a bit more direct). It took another year, but ultimately I had to decide, “Am I going to go through the motions for the next twenty years, or am I going to stop wishing and start doing?” I chose to start doing and as a result, life flooded back into me. I’ve never looked back. Are you miserable? That might be a good thing. It probably means you are ready for a breakthrough, which leads to number three.
  • Courage. I had three kids in college and one who was about to be. Are you nuts? went through my mind over and over. I was comfortable, but I was miserable. Thankfully, I learned that leaders are never comfortable being comfortable. They are comfortable when they are being courageous. My kids challenged me to go for it. I never would have made it to Fifth Avenue if I had held on. Is there an area where you need a necessary ending? A place where you have been playing it safe? If so, it is not too late. Resist the urge to keep doing what you’ve been doing. It will only lead you to where you are, which in my case was stuck. You don’t have to stay stuck, but courage will be required to let go.
  • Passion. Ultimately I made it to Fifth Avenue because I kept encouraging myself to pursue my passion. Seriously, Remedial English? — trust me, it would have been easy to stay stuck in remedial thinking. Remedial and remedy come from the same root word. A remedy is a cure. Was there something wrong with me? I refused to believe it, and my mom wouldn’t let me even if I had wanted to. A passion to communicate and encourage leaders kept calling. I wanted to work with high performance organizations and teams. Now that I get to, I have never been happier in my work. The opportunity to coach others to reach their potential gets me up early and keeps me up late. Pursuing your passion is a choice. I’m sure glad I never gave up on mine. I hope you won’t either.

I want to encourage you to not lose sight of your dream. If I can have this much fun, I’m convinced you can too. Invest the time, listen to your pain, show courage, and keep chasing your passion.
If you live UNSTUCK, you can make it anywhere, even in New York.
Need coaching on your journey back to your sweet spot? … Pick up a copy of UNSTUCK and regain perspective on your life and leadership.


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