The 2012 SoulSalt Courage Award

Two strong constructs within my work are to:

  • Support people to clarify and align with their core value system
  • Support people through the process of career reinvention

This year’s Courage Award goes to a woman whose story embraces both and has unfolded right beneath my nose. Susan McLaughlin, my partner in life has simply yet bravely earned this award.

Having her livelihood placed on the line, Susan chose to leave a job in order to remain aligned with her personal values. This daring move has required that she quickly reinvent herself in the world of entrepreneurship (something she is approaching with as much skill and thoughtfulness as I’ve ever witnessed). Her story is best told by her own pen:

Recently I experienced a big shift in my life that has made me wonder.

 I wonder, what is it that drives a person to initiate a big change?

What is it that allows a person to take the next step, to change careers, a relationship, even a residence?

I took a big step…. no, I took a leap this Dec, 2011.

I have been practicing physical therapy since 2001. Four years ago I established myself as an outpatient physical therapist with a top notch healthcare company. I had an ideal position with a decent salary, potential to develop a pelvic health program and move into a leadership role.

During my years with this company, minute incongruencies clashed with my core values and began to take its toll. I had been packaging and storing these differences in a way that manifested as stress in my body. I started to observe that I mixed up words when I spoke, I transposed words when I wrote, I couldn’t finish my sentences, and I started to revert back to the childhood days when I couldn’t say my “Rs”.

I also noticed that despite all of the hours of stretching and restorative exercise™ during the week, my muscles just wouldn’t let go….Although I could feel that I was carrying more tension in my body than was healthy, I didn’t want to admit that my current job was contributing to this condition.

I now realize that my stress was caused by the friction of internal struggle. I have a belief that our bodies will heal if given the optimal environment. I wanted to work from my soul. However, I was working within a system where healing is something done to us and we wait for people to get sick, and then “cure” them with surgery and pills. I would have continued to work with this subtle inner struggle, but my company initiated a new policy that challenged me to really look at my core value of health and wellness.

You see, it is becoming a national healthcare trend to initiate a mandatory flu shot policy for all workers of large healthcare systems. My company followed suit this fall 2011. I had to make a decision: Do I sacrifice my personal health and compromise my immune system, or do I sacrifice a “good job” and a paycheck?

I realized that if I continued to make compromises to my core values, my physical body would eventually revolt, and then where would I be? I had to ask myself an important question: How could I stand for health and wellness when, by taking the flu shot and working for this company, I would be out of my personal integrity? 

I chose not to get the flu shot and I left my company. I was able to take that leap and land on my feet because I have an inner conviction that I know that my body has everything it needs to be vital. I stayed aligned to what I believe in. It wasn’t popular, nor was it profitable, however, I am committed to health and wellness and I will support others to do so as well. So I formed my own company and aptly named it, Align Integration and Movement, PLC. I intend to thrive and I intend to work with those who want to thrive as well.

Please feel free to visit and be sure to check out the class schedule. If something within Susan’s philosophy resonates with your own outlook on wellness, I recommend that you attend one of her Restorative Exercise™ classes now being held in Salt Lake !

Trade Knowledge for Bewilderment

“The path was wide at first but soon narrowed to the width of my body, before abruptly ending. But I kept going, bushwhacking into the brush.  A stack of clouds moved across the sky like an iceberg, gradually covering the sun. The air had no scent at all; I just felt the cold in my nostrils saw my breath as I struggled through a briar patch, scraped my sleeve on a cluster of thorns, passed through a narrow clearing before plunging into a deeper, darker part of the forest.  I finally stopped, out of breath. I looked back and saw no sign of the trail.  I was utterly alone. In the midst of this silence, four words gathered in my mind – a little phrase from Rumi. It reads ‘trade knowledge for bewilderment.’

I walked on, and then the forest opened into a meadow. A fleck of purple caught my eye- the season’s first wildflower…” This passage was taken from the book Twelve By Twelve by William Powers.

Trading knowledge for bewilderment is exactly what can happen when you exit a company you love, one you helped grow from the ground up.

Is what can happen to your heart when you go home permanently and leave people behind that you love and a team you worked with mind-reading synchronicity.

It is what happens when dear ones leave as well (death and the end of Oprah as we know it can be a bummer for those left behind).

Trading knowledge for bewilderment can occur when you go out on a limb by yourself at mid-life because that is where all the juicy fruit is?

For one of my clients, the best word to describe this past of courageous transformation is the word BEWILDERMENT!

Today she is finding her sea legs. Gaining traction and learning to trade starting her workday at 7:00 a.m.  for starting on her new life.

One of our core principles at SoulSalt Inc. is Courage. Change of any sort is challenging. Change that results is this type of change is note-worthy. We honor Martha with this year’s Courage award. Well done Martha! We’re all better for having you on this planet with us.



Doing the Hard Things

Doing the Hard Things

I admire people who have the strength to do the hard things when destiny asks them to do so. One such person is Richard Paul Evans. In 1993 he wrote a book titled The Christmas Box. Later this book would simultaneously become the #1 hardcover and paperback book in the nation, and then an Emmy award-winning television movie. However, I’m ahead of the story. Let me give you more context:

Evan’s wrote The Christmas Box as a passionate response to his unexpected and tremendous overload of joy he discovered when he began raising his two children. His idea was that by reading this book, someday in the future his children would be able to hold their children and understanding how he was feeling about them. He also wanted to give them his interpretation of the “true meaning” of Christmas. Originally Richard intended to create two copies of his book to gift to his children. However, his wife read and reacted to the book so powerfully that they determined to self-publish twenty copies and give those out to friends as well as family members.

Within six weeks of giving out the books, the phone began to ring. In fact it rang almost every day from local book stores asking to fulfill orders they had taken from people who had heard about and wanted to get The Christmas Box.

Now I have to admit, I’ve not read the book yet. It is completely the idea of Richard Paul Evan’s ability to do hard things that attracts me. The first example of that courage for me is that he didn’t keep his feelings for his children pent up inside. Nor did he create a watered down version of his feelings captured only in a single note or letter. The hard thing to do at this point was to write an entire book – over 120 pages to be exact. And that is what he did. If you’ve ever written and then published a personal narrative, you know the emotional effort required by this often daunting as well as overwhelming project. My bet is that there are at least, at least 5,000 similar un-published books or ideas for books out there collecting dust in someone’s head or drawer.

So back to Richard’s story – from that self-publishing moment in early 1994 when his phone began ringing, Richard decided to go ahead and publish about 5,000 more books on his own. He coined the term “Guerilla Marketing” and set out to give away each of these books. He determined not to fight a war with big publishers. Instead he went to the smaller markets where the big publishers were not and he got on every radio station he could in each. He put himself out there. And this brings up what glares at me as another example of doing the hard thing:

He invested more money, time and sweat to get the book out to every market he could. Nobody else was going to do it if he didn’t step up himself. I wonder how many nights just before falling asleep in some hotel room on the road did Richard think: “What the heck am I doing?” No matter what played out in his mind, one thing for sure was that he stayed dedicated to his cause.

Eventually Richard came to a pivotal moment where his mental guts were truly tested. He was peddling his wares at a book show in Colorado. He noticed that very few people were visiting his and other booths inside the convention hall. Inspired by curiosity and dedication Richard inquired, “Where are the book buyers?” He learned that they were out in the hall standing in line-after-line to get a free, autographed book from rows and rows of authors who had been specifically invited to do so.

Upon exploring this fact and noticing an empty space on one of the tables between two of these authors, Evans faced another moment of truth. He could go back and waste more time and money standing behind his display and stacks of books, or he could muster all his wits and crash the signing party. He decided to crash. He went back to his booth, grabbed his books and then snuck into the empty space. Just as he did so one of the show’s organizers approached him. Richard could have choked under the pressure. Most of us might have done just that but he didn’t. Quick as a flash he looked up at her and said, “I’m sorry that I’m late.”

The organizer stopped dead in her tracks, blinked and offered to get him some water. Evans spent the day signing and handing out his books.

If there was ever a moment of truth, this was one indeed. Mental grit was required in order to channel what must have been a huge emotional rush into a burst of gutsy intelligence. Kudos Richard! And what pleases me even more is that the next year he returned as the “guest author” to this same show and he was able to trade stories with the very same organizer. She admitted that in that critical moment she was about to throw him out. Then she saw the earnestness in Richard’s eyes and decided to give “this crazy, gutsy guy a chance.”

And so it went for Richard Paul Evans, and so it will be again for thousands of other people like you and I – People who have a dream and enough mental toughness to see those dreams come true

I’ve shared with you what inspires and teaches me from Richard Paul Evan’s personal story. Now I want to know, what impresses you?

If you like this entry you may want to view this related movie.