13917216133_b6e22fe909_z

For Such a Time as This

What do I do? This is a question I often get asked. Are you primarily a speaker? A writer? An activist?

No, I’m not any of these, though I am involved in all of them.

My primary role is to build. I’m building Help One Now. Sometimes, building requires that I speak and write. But, my passion–what keeps me up at night–is processing how to build something beautiful, something meaningful.

I don’t build alone. I have a board, a team, and our amazing tribe. We build together and together, we are building something that matters.

When you build, you go through peaks and valleys. It is much like a sports season. You have to endure, you lose your way at times, you suffer injury. The game plan does not work, so you pivot.

But, if you keep going, you get better.

The first half of 2014 was a valley–a deep valley of uncertainty, frustration and lots of losses. But our team kept working–discouraged, but still filled with hope.

Money was tight, changes had to be made, hard conversation were had and a few “OMG, did that really just happen” moments happened.

As I type these words, I’m holed up in cabin deep in the heart of the smoky mountains. I can hear the water streams outside my window, mountain peaks are everywhere, and the thick clouds roll through on this unusually fall like summer day.

I had to spend the majority of this day working and not relaxing. That may sound sad to you, but to me, it’s exciting because the work is so good and the opportunities are beyond what I could have imagined, even just a few months ago.

This week, I head off to Plywood People, and then the following week, I head off to Catalyst to share my story. A few weeks after that, I head to Ethiopia; you won’t believe who I’m taking with me! After that, I will be in Zimbabwe and South Africa.

When I get back, I will prepare for Allume and Together for Adoption, and after that, we have this big party in NW Arkansas and we finally end the year with a vision trip for investors and pastors to Haiti.

This is what it means to be a builder. Key seasons create growth and impact; then you take a step back and make sure you have your processes in place and that systems are working well.

We will have wins and losses–good times and bad times. We will stretch ourselves to the limits and maybe even wonder how we did it all. But, then we will see the impact. The lives changed, the kids rescued, moms and dads empowered, and a tribe of people who are seeking to do good and do it well.

I’m thoroughly excited about the next few months. We are building the next phase of this beautiful story!

From Hogwarts To Haiti

Chris Marlow —  April 22, 2014 — 1 Comment

From Hogwarts To Haiti

A few years ago, I noticed my daughter on the computer. She was totally locked in and focused. Her eyes were wide, and her smile was so big her face could barely contain her excitement.

“What was she doing?” I wondered.

She broke the silence with a simple question: “Hey Dad, all my friends in class have been to Disney World. When are we going to go?”

(Since when is it not normal for 10 year olds to have not been to Disney?)

I quickly realized she was looking at YouTube videos of Disney World and, like all good marketing, she was hooked.

Soon she would shut down the laptop and leave. You see, she has an imagination that has no end. Its like the ocean from Miami to Haiti… the spectacular views never ends!

She loves to enter new worlds….

She can stare at the sky for hours…

She has read the Harry Potter book series in full more than seven times in the last two years.

When we take trips, she is quiet as she stares out the window of the car, day dreaming.

When we fly, she desperately hopes for the window seat. And, if she does not get it, she starts to barter.

I love this about her, and I encourage her to never stop being who she is.

But, this kids is also a strategic thinker. So, an hour after I told her that I would take her to Disney World someday, she returned with hand-written contract.

Not only did she want my signature, but she also wanted her mom’s as well. And she wanted some timeframes. I had promised her so many times but had never followed through with details.

2013 02 07 20 40 11

A year later, I found myself at the entry gate of the Magic Kingdom and a few days later, we spent the day at the Islands of Adventure. (And, this place is amazing!)

I had fulfilled my side of the contract, finally. My kids rarely ask for anything, but I knew this was important for my daughter.

Of course, we had a blast–princess shows, roller coasters, food, and lots of laughs. We made memories as a family and it was fantastic.

A few days later, after our trip to Disney, I was heading to Haiti with a group of storytellers. Honestly, I feel much more at home in Port Au Prince than I do in Belle’s Castle or Harry’s Coaster or in the darkness of Space Mountain.

So, when our little group walked out of the airport, I had a sense of deep relief. No more fabricated exotic worlds; I was now in the real world. A real adventure was about to begin!

You see, in the midst of the ragged brokenness, I see the greatest joys.

In the midst of extreme poverty, I see the Spirit working.

When I drive down the pot-hole filled streets of Haiti, I feel at home.

These are my people. They have adopted me and taught me more than I can possibly imagine — I’m indebted to them even if I still can’t speak a lick of Creole. Also, I might have called our team “gringos” in the middle of a rice field as I was speaking to a Haitian mother whose kids are in our sponsorship program! :-)

For us –

This is not a mission trip.

This is more than a project with key data points.

This is not about another stamp in the passport.

We are not wearing matching t-shirts that proclaim we’re coming to “fix” Haiti.

When one of our kids gives me a hug and says, “Hello Mr. Chris Marlow” in their broken english, my heart melts. Those kids could be dead today had we not met.

I know what is I stake. I feel the burden. The weight is a constant.

When one of our kids speaks in English, I remember when that same child almost perished because of malnutrition. Now they’re going to school, they have dreams, they want to be artists, or doctors or athletes… heck, some want to be the President.

And this will happen.

When I extend a hug to Gaetan or Jean Alix or Pastor St Cyr, I’m hugging a friend. These men don’t need to read Harry Potter for excitement, they don’t have a broomstick to fly, but just like Harry, they’re heroes living out a magical story of love, grace, and redemption. They are fighting evil everyday.

And you are a friend who can help them!

This is why we do these story trips. One of my greatest joys is to introduce my brilliant friends in North America with my brilliant friends in Haiti. I know it’s only a matter of time until the magic happens.

We want everyone to get dirty

Our trips have no fabrications, no silos; they are not sterile. We don’t want anyone to leave Haiti clean, we don’t have pat answer to hard questions. We want everyone to get dirty.

You see, it’s in the dirt that we find the kingdom. It’s in the dirt that we realize how vital it is to serve the global church. It’s in the dirt where we see Jesus roaming and working, loving and serving, giving and going.

Often, our Western form of Christianity has become so clean, so boxed in, so boring, so formulaic. This is tragic and when I read scripture, I see a different story with a different outcome.

But that outcomes means our lives will literally be turned upside down, and that scares us to death. And, it drives us to creating Hogwarts.

Hogwarts is only fun for so long. Once we realize what it is, once we realize that it is fake and fabricated, once we realize that our imagination can’t become real … well, that is when we have to decide to work in the real world.

So, I asked the story team to get dirty for a few days and they did! We heard horrific stories of extreme poverty, human trafficking, disease, sickness, and deep deep brokenness.

We also heard amazing stories of love, hope, and community transformation.

We drove all over the country, we slept very little, we had a few unplanned fasts along the way (and some luxuries as well).

I believe when you get dirty, you tend to find the greatest joy, deep meaning and beauty that no human can imagine — not even the great Walt Disney or J.K. Rowling.

Jesus’ calls us to enter this kind of life, to leave the comforts for the cross, leave our families to help restore other families, leave our community to be a part of another community.

It’s spectacular. It’s holy. It’s glorious.

We need your help

I would love for you to read these dirty stories of love and hope from these brilliant writers. I would love for you to see the images, embrace the tension, and take a step forward and lean into what it means to love and care for the global poor.

As much as I loved Hogwarts, it will never capture my imagination like Haiti has. I hope these stories capture your imagination as well.

If you want to help today, you can sponsor a child. Our goal is 100 new sponsorships.

And/or you can throw a Garage Sale for Orphans party and help us rescue another 25 kids this year and build a pre-school for Ferrier Village!

Struggle for Progress

Chris Marlow —  April 8, 2014 — 9 Comments

1533790_10152524907885410_1704631938_n

Have you ever risked everything–to pursue a dream, to see progress, to make a difference, to grow to the next level?

Have you ever been so fully committed, risked so deeply and worked so hard for a moment, a season of possibility?

Last year I spent most of my time assembling an amazing team and board for Help One Now.

We hired 5 full time staff positions and brought in multiple new board members. I hired an amazing coach to help me walk through the vision.

We saw tremendous growth last year as we doubled our revenue. Plus, the work in Haiti and Africa continues to thrive.

But you see, doubling our revenue was not the point. We were positioning ourselves for some massive growth opportunities in the next 2-3 years.

All this is not because I have a desire to see us grow for the sake of growth; rather it’s because we have amazing local leaders who need us to grow so they can get vital work done.

Therefore, we decided to step on the gas, go full throttle, and do whatever it took to smash through key barriers–which equals lives changed, orphans rescued, kids loved and attending school, dads and moms working, communities having clear water, and much much more.

Now, here’s what is absolutely scary: I have no plan B. At all.

Failure is NOT an option. For us to succeed, we need to crush these three metrics!

1) We need 1000 new sponsorships in the next 8 months.
2) We need 1000 new Garage Sale for Orphan parties in the next 15 months.
3) I need 100 folks to say YES to becoming investors in Help One Now this year.

That’s it. :-)

Those are the metrics. Those metrics will bring sustainable growth and community transformation to the places we work in Haiti, Zimbabwe, Uganda, Ethiopia, and now, Peru!

We’ve invested more money in the last 3 months than the last three years on partnerships with folks like Catalyst, Allume and a few others amazing organizations that I don’t have the liberty to discuss yet (but soon!).

We decided to do another bloggers trip. I leave this Saturday with these amazing storytellers.

Follow us here; we need you. It’s going to be amazing.

600x400 b  1

Oh, and we have another trip to Ethiopia this September. We will announce more information soon.

The last six months have absolutely been the most challenging six months for Help One Now. I wake up every morning with a simple prayer – “God, lead us.” I go to bed with a simple prayer – “God, give us wisdom and provide the resources we need to fight the good fight.”

And then we work hard, because we care, because we understand the depth of the problem and pain that exists because of extreme poverty.

I love my job, I love our team, I’ve pushed them to the edge. They have pushed themselves further–because this is not just a job. It’s a calling and a passion and we are ready to do what it takes to see progress–for light to shine in the darkness.

We will fight for progress. We will fight for the slave, the orphan, those who are suffering.

If you are reading this post, I need you to help push us forward. I need you to sponsor a child, or help us get a few kids sponsored, I need you to become “1 of 1000″ and throw a Garage Sale for Orphan Party, I need you to invest in Help One Now, like never before!

And, I’m asking you to pray for favor, wisdom and resources. We need some big breakthroughs!

All that to say, I’m thoroughly excited and pumped about these next few months. I’ve never felt more alive. I’ve never felt more aware of using my time and God’s resources well.

I’m embracing the moment… to see progress!

Forgive

Credit: Power of Slow

How Does One Deal With Tragedy?

It is the question we hope we never have to ask. Unfortunately, I have had to deal with my fair share. My family has seen deaths due to cancer and accidents to moms, dads, and brothers.

We’ve been here before–the middle-of-the-night phone call that changes your life in an instant. We had one of those phone calls a few weeks ago. My sister-in-law called from Dallas at 9:30PM on a Friday night; this never happens.

We missed the first call, but as soon as the phone rang again, I told Necole she needed to answer it.

I knew it was bad, but not this bad, not this tragic. After about 20 minutes, Necole came into the kitchen and told me the news. Her youngest brother, Robee, had been murdered in a hotel room in Los Angeles.

The entire world immediately stopped as I begin to make sense of it all.

Of course, I do what I do and processed how to tell my daughters. We called the girls into the living room. In a world of social media, you can’t wait to communicate. The word had already gotten out on Facebook and I did not want my kids reading that their uncle had been murdered via social media.

I broke the terrible news, tears burst out quickly, and one of my daughters collapses on the floor in anger. The weight of the moment is thick; the reality is horrific.

The story only gets worse as the details come out. A brutal attack in an LA hotel room and, at this point, one without reason. Self defense wounds, post-mortem wounds–I could go on, but I won’t.

The local news releases this story and detectives begin to search for the suspect with a full-scale manhunt. Searching for a known criminal who preys on young men.

The first time I saw the suspect’s face, I felt the anger rush through my soul. But, we didn’t have much time for all of that, since we had to focus on the logistics.

Family had to fly to LA to identify the body, and the cost of of the funeral begins to add up as we call the airlines, car rentals and hotels.

Questions arise. “How can we afford to go to the funeral?”

The details can suffocate you and create a culture where you have no time to be silent, mourn, reflect, and pray. But it is, what it is. (My Dallas family has received TREMENDOUS support from their friends and church, for which we are so thankful!)

We booked tickets and flew to Dallas. We cry, we hug, we laugh, we eat and we play crazy games like Flappy Bird for 5 days. This journey has no road–map, just step by step, you ponder how to deal with it all.

Over and over, you realize that life is really about Scripture, prayer, and community.

Thankfully, that is enough. That is the recipe that is needed in this and every moment.

After 2 weeks, we finally had the memorial service. Hundreds came out to pay their respects. More hugs, more tears, more prayer. I open the service with a prayer and a quick word. Brothers, sisters, and pastors also have messages of love, of hope, of eternity.

Hours after the memorial service, we learn that the suspect has been caught. This is good news!

Two days later, we leave Dallas and I sit here in a cafe in Raleigh writing and trying to reflect and process. I watch the news video for the first time. My first reaction? I want to punch the suspect in the face. What a freaking low-life thug!

I try to remember that this potential murderer is also created in God’s image and loved by God. Jesus hung on a cross for his sins –– even the sin of murder. Even murder that includes my brother-in-law. Jesus loves this guy as much as he loves me.

Then I remember that I am the same kind of person. A liar, a thief, a broken person in need of grace.

I wrestle with these tensions. There are no easy answers. At times, life can be so terrible. But, this is something Scripture speaks of over and over. Darkness exists, and the church–God’s people–are in a battle to overcome the darkness with LIGHT.

So How Does One Deal With Tragedy?

You commit yourself to creating a better world.

That’s the only answer that makes sense to me.

Of course, we can get angry, try to find blame, or even shut down and do nothing. But, none of that will actually solve the problems that our world faces.

Sometimes taking action means you have to be brave; you have to live different. Jesus’s message is so counter-culture. I’m trying to embrace that.

So today, I’m working. I’m working on loving God, my family, my neighbor, and the world.

Today, I even whispered a prayer for “Rick,” the suspect. I see Rick as being the thief on the cross.

The thief asked Jesus for mercy, and it was immediately granted. I pray that somehow, some way, I will meet “Rick” in another world. And together, we can celebrate the love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness of Jesus.

Yes, I’m angry at him. Yes, I want him to sit in a prison cell for the remainder of his days. No doubt, justice must be served.

But, I also want him to experience forgiveness and freedom and the explosive grace that Jesus gives to all humans, no matter how deep their sin goes.

This is the only way that makes sense to me. This is the only message I see in Scripture. This is the only way that I can envision Jesus acting.

I can do nothing else but try to do the same. And this is how I deal with tragedy!

Here’s my TEDx talk that I did a few months ago. I would be grateful if you took time to watch it and if you enjoy the talk, share the video and leave a comment in the Youtube site.

I feel this message is important and I want the idea to spread. It’s vital to fighting extreme global poverty!

2013 Review

Chris Marlow —  December 31, 2013 — Leave a comment

20048892_xl

 

As 2013 comes to a close, I can’t help but to take a moment to pause and review what turned out to be a great year.

Some personal highlights:

  • I turned 4My oldest daughter became a teenager (boo)
  • My younger daughter started middle school (boo)
  • Necole and I took a vacation to Cancun
  • Necole started a business
  • Relatives moved from Austin to Raleigh.
  • I was able to speak at a TEDx event here in Raleigh
  • I hired a Literary Agent
  • I started to coach and consult with a few young organizations — I love doing this!

Professionally, Help One Now had another amazing year. At the same time, it was the most challenging year I’ve ever faced as a leader. But, the work that is being done is worth it.

  • We sent over $1,000,000 in 2013 to alleviate poverty and transform communities. I don’t have the final numbers yet, but we’re close to doubling our growth as an organization from 2012.
  • We were able to hire 4 full-time team members in 2013. This is the first year that I’m not the only full-time employee.
  • The Help One Now team is fantastic. They’re so dedicated, and for whatever reason, they put up with me and my chaos and determination.
  • In January, we introduced our new board members, and I am a very lucky dude. These board members have stretched me in so many good ways. Also, let me say this: I would not have survived 2013 without Mike Rusch. He is our board chair and I’m thankful for his leadership, friendship, and insights.
  • We opened Ferrier Village and participated in the rescue of over 35 kids who were being trafficked in Haiti. (19 when we posted the first blog)
  • Over 400 children are attending a new school in Haiti, thanks to the 2012 Legacy Project.
  •  A clean water project just went live in Zimbabwe a few weeks ago.
  • We were able to visit our partners in Zimbabwe and Uganda. They inspire me!
  • Every day, hundreds of kids are getting fed, being educated, and receiving love through our sponsorship program.
  •  We launched a new project in Ethiopia.

Really, I could go on and on.

We also made a million mistakes, dropped the ball way too many times, and missed some key goals as an organization. Like I said, 2013 was an amazing and yet challenging year.

I’m thoroughly grateful for family, friends, colleagues, and donors who make all of this a reality.

My life is full and I’m grateful. I cannot wait for 2014 – so many new opportunities, possibilities, and obstacles.

We’re starting the new year off with a bang as we travel to Ethiopia and Uganda from Jan 1-12.

I just wanted to take a moment and say “Thanks” to all of you who are on this journey with me.

I hope 2014 is an amazing year for you!

I Guess I’m Writing a Book

Chris Marlow —  December 13, 2013 — 13 Comments

Typewriter Iam

Photo Credit

I Guess I’m Writing a Book. (yikes).

While trying to get through security in the Miami airport after spending 5 days in Haiti, my friend Jen looked at me and said, “Chris, you need to get serious about writing a book. These stories need to be told.”

I’ve already felt the call, but struggle to be a writer. You have to understand that writing is one of my greatest fears.

I’m a builder of organizations. I can speak anywhere, anytime, and I love any meeting that includes a whiteboard and some idea-makers.

Writing… not so much. My grammar capabilities have been stuck somewhere around the 5th grade level, which means both of my daughters tend to correct my writing all the time.

I’ve never read a book on writing, I’ve never followed a writing prompt, and I’ve never had a desire to write a book. Heck, I can’t even blog consistently.

A few weeks ago, I had to Google what exactly a Literary Agent actually did.

So Why Write?

I love stories and I love to read. And, if somehow God can use my writing and an epic editor (seriously, I feel badly for whoever has to edit my book) to help make an impact on the global poor and to help empower His Church to live on mission — then I will write.

Which means, I must face my own fears. This is difficult.

I Hired An Agent

I knew I needed an agent to help walk me through the process and mentor me. And, of course pitch my idea to key publishers.

I had two great conversations with two well-respected agents. They represent writers who I love and respect. I pitched my idea to them and they saw what I saw.

The idea is very different; it is creative and fresh. (I think) I can’t share it yet, but I can give a hint — we say it at Help One Now all the time.

Both agents were interested and I actually signed a contract with one of them. (See, I don’t even know if it is kosher to go public with his name. Tells you how much I know about this industry.)

Time To Write

In 2014, I will spend many early mornings and late nights writing. I want to write for God, the orphans, our local leaders in Haiti and Africa, and YOU.

But, I’m SCARED TO DEATH that I will write an average book that no one will read.

Trust me, if my books stinks, my own staff will ignore it, and there is a good chance my wife won’t even read it.

But I also know there’s a chance that the words on the page will have meaning, will bring some people to tears, and will open up new worlds and new realities. So, I’m now proclaiming that, “I Am a Writer.” (Just made Jeff very happy!)

Oh, and I heard authors get rich. Maybe I can send my kids to college after all, right? Okay, just kidding.

ps: My friend Ken does the majority of the editing for this blog and Help One Now. He’s good; you should check him out.

Hello TED

Chris Marlow —  November 5, 2013 — 9 Comments

042D0800 9433 4ED2 859A BC2069A46871

Hello TED. It was good to meet you!

As a reluctant communicator, I had a few goals in life. Like an artist or author, there are certain “marks” that mean a lot as you see your hard work pay off.

TED Talks are one of these. Personally, I love the entire concept of TED; they are quick, powerful and inspirational. I’ve watched dozens of talks through the years.

TEDx is an offshoot of TED. It’s a local expression of the global movement. Many of the greatest TED talks have come throughout TEDx, like Brene Brown and Simon Sinek.

For anyone who has a message, a passion, a story that they want to spread — TED gives you that opportunity. As a communicator, you hope to inspire the audience at the event; as a leader, you hope to inspire the world through the video that is released after the talk.

You have to plan a message for both realities.

A few months ago, I was invited to speak at TEDx Raleigh. It was the best of both worlds for me, since I live in Raleigh.

Of course, I accepted and it was on. I was under the gun to create a new, 18 minute message. Of course, it must be delivered without the aid of notes on stage and it must be an “idea worth spreading”, a talk filled with a mixture of stories, data and solutions to the problem.

No pressure.

The Planning Stage

I’m ABSOLUTELY convinced that greatness comes through planning and preparation. The greatest speeches were well conceived, rehearsed and delivered. They were not accidents.

After I accepted the invitation, I immediately begin to plan. I cleared my schedule quickly so I would have time to focus.

I flew out to LA to spend time w/ Charles. We took a day and planned out some potential content. I hired his firm, !deation, to create the pitch deck. (By the way, you should too.)

They did a great job!

I immediately begin to read multiple books by Nancy Duarte; they were VERY helpful.

I also reached out to Eric, Deidra and Kristen, who have all spoken at TEDx events within the last year. They put this entire process into perspective as they all communicated the same thing: they were worked hard, had to deal with nerves, and loved the opportunity to speak at TED.

After the initial planning, I went through weeks of pure agony. I only had 7 weeks from the time I accepted to the time I had to speak. Of course, four of those seven weeks, I had to travel. Time was not on my side.

Finally after many iterations, I landed on the message idea, content and flow. Let me share some key advice: Your talk MUST be authentic. Don’t try to be someone you’re not, or else you will fail.

I set up two practices events. One was a private, invite-only event at Raleigh Coffee Company. The other was an advanced toastmasters group; of course, most of that group is filled with professional speakers.
I wanted to do a few “live” practices before the actual event. Both of these practices were rough, but I was able to solicit some amazing feedback that was SO helpful.

The Day of the event

I woke up at 4AM. My talk was scheduled for 11AM, but I had to be at the event by 9:30AM. I rehearsed my talk two times that morning. I also tried to visualize EVERYTHING. I walked through all aspects of the day. Of course, I always listen to Muse before I do live talks. Their music gives me energy and helps me to focus and drown out all the noise and distractions.

I ate a very simple, clean breakfast and drank lots of lukewarm water (avoiding cold or hot), and I sucked lemon throat lozenges to avoid dry mouth.

I also made sure that I had backups of my presentation via dropbox and a thumb drive.

Now, I’ve been very focused on this event all week and I had to definitely deal with some nerves along the way, but as for the day of the event, I had zero nerves. I felt like I had command of the topic, structure, stories and flow. I also knew, that at this point, it was what it was — improvement was impossible. I had to trust that the 100 hours of preparation, planning, and practice would pay off on game day.

And I think that it did. I received some incredible feedback after the talk and multiple emails as well. No doubt, I’m sure that I made plenty of mistakes. When I get the video, I may retract these statements. I guess we will see.

Wrap Up

Here’s some data that may be helpful if you have to give a TED Talk or any important talk soon.

Hours: I would say I spent a good 70-100 hours on the talk.

Practice: I practiced 15-20 times in my home office to work through flow, presentation and to memorize key words to trigger the CLICK for my slides. I used Keynote and practiced with my remote in presentation view, and I also practiced in normal view WITHOUT any slides. I wanted to make sure I had mastered the flow and I wanted to be ready for any tech issues the day of the event.

Practice Live Events: Two events. Again, these were key in getting myself ready for the actual event as well as garnering valuable feedback that I was able to incorporate before my Tedx talk.

Let me conclude with this: when you stand before a group of people, they’re giving you their time. You have an opportunity to inspire them, share your story and activate them to care about what you care about.

Live presentations are big impact opportunities, so prepare well and do the necessary work that is needed. And, when it’s all over, you can rest and be at peace that you did everything in your power to deliver the best possible talk and the rest is out of your control.

Work hard, enjoy the moment and the rest is history.

Table

Okay, you’ve got 8 spots at your dinner table for an upcoming gathering at your house. Invitees have to be alive. And has to be people you’ve never met. Who’s getting the invites?

Here’s my eight:

1. Nelson Mandela

2. Jim Collins

3. Jack Dorsey

4. Paul Farmer

5. Donald Miller

6. Seth Godin

7. Sheryl Sandberg

8. Bono

Who’s at your dinner table?

HT: Brad Lomenick

Day29patience

Wisdom, Advice and Patience

This past February, my coach gave me some advice that, though I hated to hear, I needed.

You see, we had just implemented our new board, and we committed to being aggressive on hiring new staff.

Of course, I was ready to blow the doors out of the water in 2013. But, my coach knew something that obviously I did not. Now, don’t get me wrong, we have grown a lot; we may actually double our total revenue from 2012 in 2013.

That is exciting — but, I’m really just never satisfied. Ever :-)

Heartbreaking News For An Entrepreneur

Here is the devastating news that my coach told me:

“Chris, 2013 is going to be a really good year for Help One Now. But 2014 is going to be a breakout year if you implement this plan and execute on a daily basis. You will build momentum in ways you never thought possible.”

After that, I had a mini breakdown; after all, it was only February. 2014 seemed like a million years away.

It’s hard to tell an entrepreneur that it’s going to be a good year. Good = vanilla, boring, average, whatever. Good are the companies Jim Collins talks BADLY about, because they are not great.

I’m driven to be great. I just can’t help it.

We were taking massive risks and I wanted immediate growth, Now hear me out — the growth that we wanted was needed to keep up with our work to help empower leaders, care for kids and see communities transformed.

Wise People Seek And Listen To Wisdom

This is why we all need coaches and advisors who will help us process REALITY and not live the world of make-believe. Dreamers and entrepreneurs love this world, but we need people to tell us the hard things in life that are true.

Here is the value that my coach gave me: whenever we were having a slow month, when it was harder than I thought to get all the staff up and running, when I wanted everything to go faster and I felt like I was in quicksand — I would remind myself that 2013 was going to be good, but, we are focused on building for 2014 and beyond. I had to be patient and focus on the long term health, not short term metrics.

Again and again, those words kept me going when I wanted to panic, when I was dealing with the complexities of global development work, partnerships, finances, system implementation.

The Future Is Near

It’s October — 2014 is coming. The activities that we are working on today are so beyond what we could have imagined when I met with my coach.

I can’t wait to reveal them and I can’t wait to see how much of an impact that is made because of them. It has taken almost 10 months of excruciating implementation. And in those moments, I hung on to my coach’s words of wisdom.

There is no doubt that it takes time to do work that is memorable, work that will last, work that creates results like the Legacy Project or Ferrier Village.

Good is good, but great is better. Only time will tell, but I’m thankful for advisors who taught me to be patient and focus on long term effectiveness and scale, not short term excitement, which can be so deceiving.

Who do you have in your life that cares enough to tell you the hard things that will help you accomplish great work?