e.piph.a.ny [i piff anee]- sudden realization: a sudden intuitive leap of understanding, especially through an ordinary but striking occurrence.
It was October, right after September 11th, 2001. I had just dropped out of cemetery, I mean seminary, and was down to my last $1,000 in savings. I was jobless and was sleeping on some friends’ couch in Fort Worth, TX when I had an epiphany. I remembered some old church pews I’d seen the summer before in an old church warehouse downtown. I thought to myself, “What if I bought them, cut them down and re-sold them for people to put in their homes or on their front porch?”
I called the guy that ran the old inner city church and kindly suggested, “I would be happy to take those nasty old church pews off your hands and clear your storage area out.” After some thought, he said, “I tell you what Chad, I’ll take $1,000 for them.” I literally cleaned out my bank account and went and picked them up that day. I had no tools, no supplies, no place to put 20, 10 foot nasty, pink church pews. The decision to buy those pews that day proved to be the craziest, but best decision I had ever made at that point in my life.
One year later, I had sold 40, 5 foot, beautifully refinished, antique church pews for anywhere from $250-400 a piece (you do the math….). I also added a wide variety of rebuilt and discarded furniture, antique accessories, and anything else I could think of that people would buy. Over the next six years, I expanded my business. I would go on to build over 100 homes, start my own home building company, a multimillion dollar real estate business and find more opportunity before I was 30 than most people find in a lifetime. Why tell you this story? A few reasons. Below are a few things I learned as a result of taking a big chance. How 20 Nasty Church Pews Changed My Life:
1. Life is not as much about WHAT you are doing as it is about WHO you are becoming. During that year of joblessness, I interviewed with 20 different corporations and got 20 different “no’s” (even though I had a solid Accounting degree, high GPA and three high profile internships during college). Someone had different plans for my life. I learned that year that life wasn’t as much about my title or about what I was doing. It was more about who I was becoming on the inside. Ten hours a day measuring, cutting, designing, sanding and painting did more for me as a young man than any corporate job could have ever provided. I spent a lot of time soul-searching, thinking praying and deciding WHO I really was.
So how about you? Could you be too concerned about WHAT you are doing right now and not as focused on WHO you are becoming? Think about it.
2. Opportunity often awaits if you will just open your eyes to see it! Hundreds of people worked around those nasty pews for years every weekend at that old inner city church. When I was desperate, I desperately racked my brain to try to think of a way I might be able to make some money (besides flipping burgers). My eyes were opened to see an opportunity! Desperation can lead to all sorts of creativity. Opportunity awaits when we open our eyes.
Are you desperate? Open your eyes and look around! You’ll never know what opportunity rests right under your eyes.
3. Rewards often await those who are willing to take risks. I literally gave everything I had for those silly pews, because I thought I could cut them down and sell them for a profit. The risk paid off and I was rewarded financially and in many other ways. The man who loaned me his barn encouraged me to get into the home building industry and later became my mentor and real estate broker. To this day, I am rewarded for the risk I took in all kinds of ways.
What risks are you willing to take? There are no guarantees, but reward could be waiting right around the corner!
4. Everyone wants to hear a good story. My pews were from an old church in Telephone, TX, and everyone that bought one was told the story of where they came from and how I found them. They were beautiful, but I believe it was the story behind them that truly engaging people. Everyone wants to hear a good story!
So what is your story? Is it engaging? Do you tell it? Is there a story behind what you are selling or are you just pushing product?
5. See the beautiful through the mess. Before I stripped the pink, flesh tone finish off, those pews were the ugliest things you had ever laid your eyes on. Not to mention, they were 10′ long and useless for any real purpose. I chopped them in half, knocked one end off and made something beautiful out of what was underneath. I saw through the mess.
What mess are you stuck with right now? Maybe it is a person. Maybe it is a situation. Can you see the beauty in it? Can you see through the madness and envision something inspiring?
Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments below!
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