Out of the Box Thinking

From

Expect Miracles Series

By Lynn U Stewart


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If you keep doing what you are doing you’ll keep getting what you’ve got. Sometimes you have to do something different to change your results. This is one of those stories…

Ken had been an employee of the Hard Rock Café since he was 17. When I started working with him he was an unfulfilled, highly successful, executive restaurateur. He desperately wanted to do something different. He knew what he wanted; however, he didn’t think he could get there. In his heart he was an artist.

When we first met, he arrived with an intricate hand-carved box. Hidden within the mahogany box were delicately arranged stamps, carefully crafted with inspirational words. The box was sturdy, impressive, and beautifully created. When he told me exactly what he wanted, I heard him. He wanted to work with a design firm. With no credentials, no degrees, and no formal training, he was at a loss as to what to do.

As we sat together, he shared his passion with me. He had carved many objects of art, all of which were impressive. They demonstrated precision, imagination—an artistic eye. He had amazing attention to detail, and creative ideas that made the ordinary into extraordinary. I listened attentively to his story and asked him if he was ready to make something happen through his own creativity. That’s when I told him about coaching. We chose to work together, and the process begun.

In our first coaching session, of which there were two, he identified firms that got his attention. Unfortunately, he didn’t know anybody there. He simply thought they were the kind of businesses where he might enjoy working. There were four design firms in Santa Barbara, California. He chose to go with his special box of words and his big smile to each of the firms and “look around.” He chose to do the research on “which one was his place?”

The first two were clear no’s, the third was a maybe, and the fourth was a “yes.” The people were friendly and open. He asked for a meeting with the office manager. He defined his specialty, his unique selling point. He told them he was a specialist at “bringing order out of chaos.” He wanted to know if they could use his services. He let them know that he had no formal training but showed his box to illustrate his attention to detail and his design eye. The manager’s “no they didn’t need any help” was not a deterrent. Ken asked for a tour. As he walked around the office he saw one trouble spot— the mailroom. At the end of their walk-through, he asked if they might trust him with a project to demonstrate his skills. He cited the mailroom as a place that could use his help and offered to do a pro-bono project for the firm… just because! The manager met with his manager, and they chose to give him a chance.

After organizing the mailroom, Ken was hired and his creative career was launched.

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