This business coach post explains how God is ultimately in control.
To say that 2007 was a tough year would be similar to someone saying that Roseanne Barr and Rosie O’Donnell are slightly obnoxious. From a general life and a business coach perspective, the year was horrible. As we rolled into 2007, I was still legally tied to Spawn of Satan: Dick Bonaparte (not his real name); and thus every day seemed to bring another profit-eating incident. Whether it was the party company’s van blowing up because the manager of the company did not check the van’s oil for 11,000 miles, or the evil former partner’s refusal to get the tags on the vans registered (which sent me to court). Something bad was always happening. Difficulty also ensued because Jason had now been promoted to manager (zookeeper) of DJC without being given the ability to discipline the meanest monkeys. This was a dumb move on my part, which ultimately resulted in me disciplining his people from afar.
Somehow, my partnership with DICK had forced me to become the lethal enforcer of all of our policies at DJ Connection. Because I always had to leave for meetings, I never got a chance to celebrate the successes that the guys were having in the office. Jason became the good cop, and I became the bad cop. Meanwhile, our son Aubrey was diagnosed with blindness (we will get into that in a moment), and our top sales guy went from acting like the “choir boy” we thought he was when we hired him to being the most difficult employee I have ever had to manage. This guy, who used to wear a suit every day (although our dress code only required everyone to wear a tie), and who used to show up to work early to get a head start, was now showing up late all the time. He was smoking pot. He was crying at work. He was having people pull guns on him at his house. He was fighting with employees. He was accidentally knocking over his coworkers’ beverages and then yelling at them for putting their drinks on their own desks. He was meeting girls on MySpace, proposing to them, and flying out to New Mexico to spend three days “evaluating their sexual compatibility.” Then he would spend his first three days back at the office de-motivating, uninspiring, and distracting his fellow coworkers with his stories of sexual excess. He was accusing everyone of stealing his leads; he was causing Jason all sorts of grief; and he needed to be fired, which would again test our system’s strength.
While, the “choir boy” was busy transforming into a demon, the photography brand I created with Dick was generating considerable amounts of revenue and bookings; however, it was headed for a full-speed collision course with disaster because of the lack of leadership provided by Dick Bonaparte, my Former Satanic LLC Partner. The photography sales team was fired up, and they were selling the heck out of wedding packages; however, they did not have the skills needed to successfully deliver on the promises they were making. Dick was an experienced photographer who had promised to create a “revolutionary training business coach system and workflow” as part of his contribution to the LLC. Apparently, this “revolutionary training business coach system and workflow” involved groping, fondling, division-causing, shirking from all personal responsibility, and wagering on the likelihood of sexual encounters taking place. If this type of behavior is what he meant when he said “revolutionary training and business coach,” it was certainly an understatement. Every day I learned of another party foul that he committed.
My brain was on the verge of exploding before I found out that our three-and-a-half-month old son was diagnosed as completely blind. At a certain point, it started to get comical. I felt like the character from the movie Pure Luck who has this incredible knack for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and yet onward I marched because I was up to my eyeballs in obligations, and quitting was not an option. Jason, Cooper, Andy, and Josh were the lone bright spots of this seemingly bleak future. The harder things got, the more those three were developing into solid people. Physically, I was getting fat. Emotionally, I was losing my faith in humanity. Mentally, I was strained. Financially, I was making tremendous amounts of money, but I was hemorrhaging cash (to pay for the partnership’s ongoing losses), and spiritually speaking, I was completely empty.
As most people who know me can attest, I have never been a religious person. In fact, I would not have ever gone to church if it were not for my sensational wife, Vanessa. Oh, sure, I have gone to church physically, but mentally and spiritually, I had never gone to church up to this point . . .
Our son Aubrey Napoleon-Hill Clark was born on April 23, 2007. The logic that went into his name is as follows. We named him Aubrey after my wife’s wonderful and inspirational step-grandfather who is a truly wonderful human. We chose Napoleon-Hill after the author who changed the course of my life with his practical and applicable book entitled Think and Grow Rich. I was really pushing to name him Marvelous Aubrey Napoleon-Hill Clark, but my wife wouldn’t let me get away with it for the same reasons she has not let me decorate our home. When we brought Aubrey home from the hospital, Vanessa and I were immediately excited about this new addition (and we still are). I was very excited about his potential as a professional athlete. After thoroughly inspecting his small man-body, I was convinced that he would definitely be playing in the NFL or the NBA within the next twenty years, so I was pumped! When Aubrey was about three months old, the Choir-Boy-Employee-Turned-Spawn-of-Satan started calling Aubrey, “Scanner”. He called him Scanner because his eyes would dart back and forth quickly as if scanning a room without ever stopping to focus on anything in particular. He had always checked out perfectly at the doctor, and we just assumed he was looking at everything. Around the time that Aubrey was four months old, Vanessa, Havana, and Aubrey flew to Utah to attend a family wedding for her brother Adam, who was marrying a fun-loving lady named Sarah. This event was yet another wedding that I could not attend because of my previous commitment to do a wedding for another couple in Dallas at the Castle Hills Country Club. I was actually in the middle of entertaining a hardy crowd of reception goers and kicking it solo (like Hans) when Vanessa called me on the DJ emergency line.
Just like I answer any other call (ultra pragmatically and enthusiastically), I said, “Bird, what is going on?”
She said, “Honey, something is wrong with Aubrey’s eyes.”
I glanced down at the counter on my CD player to verify how much time I had until I had to switch songs, and then I repeated the question thinking that I had misunderstood what she said (which I normally do), “What, Bird? What did you say?”
Vanessa repeated tearfully and urgently, “Aunt Kathryn (who is a pediatrician) says there is something wrong with Aubrey’s eyes. She says they shouldn’t be moving so much. We need to take him to the doctor right away when I get back.”
I don’t remember what I said next, but I remember thinking, “Holy crap. This is not good. Oh man, I am going to cry. Yep, I am starting to cry. What song am I going to play next?”
I frantically told Bird, “Bird, I know that this is super important, but I will call you right back; I just have to play this next song. I will call you right back.”
Aubrey could not see and Aunt Kathryn knew it. My wife was attending a wedding in Utah with two kids and without me. Meanwhile, I was supposed to be helping this couple celebrate the biggest day of their lives. I was missing my brother-in-law’s wedding and time with my wife. I had to make this show epic, and I had to quit crying. I had to get my crap together and get on the microphone to get the people jamming. I knew that if we jammed just hard enough, I would be able to forget about my son’s potential problems for two more hours. And thus, I got on that microphone and got those people on the floor with unparalleled conviction and enthusiasm . . . and yet I still cried between songs. But at DJ Connection, “The Show Must Go On!” So after telling my wife I would have to call her back, I proceeded to DJ the hell out of that wedding reception! Jam after jam I kept thinking, “What could be wrong? What song am I going to play next? How come none of the doctors have noticed anything?” And then I would step to the mic and say, “Ladies and Gentlemen, let’s get ridiculous!” Can he see? “Let’s get this conga line going!” My son may be blind . . . I can’t have a blind son . . . what about the NFL? Does the NBA have any blind players? Maybe blind coaches? No, there are definitely no blind coaches in the NBA. “Folks, we’ve got some Stevie Wonder via request!” If my son is blind, will he be the next Stevie Wonder?
When my wife returned from Utah, we immediately hit the doctor circuit. First, she took Aubrey to see his pediatrician, who referred us to a pediatric ophthalmologist. We were then referred to the Dean McGee Eye Institute. Both doctors pragmatically said, “Your son is blind.” One doctor in South Tulsa just kept repeating, “Baby is not seeing,” as Vanessa and I wept. I had known in the back of my mind that this might happen, but this was the last response Vanessa expected. We had never discussed the possibility of him being unable to see permanently. Vanessa later told me she thought he was just having trouble with the movement of his eyes; she was completely taken off guard. I personally could not get my crap together at this point. Hearing that your son will never see is pretty devastating, and at the time, I was operating pretty close to the edge emotionally speaking anyway. The doctors said, “But there are a lot of great programs for blind kids. In fact, Sooner Start has a great program.” Despite the appeal of working closely with the government bureaucrats on a daily basis, we enrolled in the SOONER START program, and then we cried. When I finished crying, she started again. We made sure to rotate so that at least one of us was crying at all times. In all sincerity, crying is what we did.
Then I had to return to the office emotionally beaten down. When Eric asked me what was going on, I told him, and then I collapsed on my hands and knees in my dad’s accounting office. I could not get my crap together. I cried during the day, and then I would spend time business coach myself out of crying before I began crying again. My wife cried at home while I cried at work. Bawling is what we did. We did more bawling than we have ever done before. For added measure, during one breakdown, I cried so well, that I even got my somewhat stoic father to cry.
Because my life was pretty stressful at the time, I started to develop a sense of urgency about getting things done, following business coach practices, and about eliminating sources of my repeated frustration immediately. I told my dad and Jason that they had to fire DJ-choir-boy-turned-satanic-demon-boy-with-a-biblical-sounding-name. I also let my feelings be known 100 percent candidly to the manager who was fond of creating innovative reasons to enjoy three to four days off per week. I called DICK BONAPARTE AND ENCOURAGED HIM TO GO TO HELL.
And then the “religious” people started calling saying the usual religious things:
“Clay, God has a purpose.”
“We will pray for you.”
“Our thoughts are with you.”
“You can make it through this.”
My doubt mounted with each call. I have always felt that someone saying they will pray for you is about the equivalent of me saying, “You know, Dan, when I go out to eat tomorrow at this high-dollar steakhouse, I am going to be thinking about you.” Essentially, I felt like people’s promises to pray for me were empty, and I was receiving bogus promises from people who did not have the power to really help.