Monday, August 21, 2017
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Excerpts form the Book

CHAPTER ONE - Excerpt One

     This book is not about white-collar crime, theft, or lying, though I was guilty of all of them. More important than the crime are the prisons we can find ourselves in, most created by our own actions. The real challenge is how we escape those chains that bind us. How do we move past negative behaviors and create an environment that reflects true success?

     When I was forced to admit my crimes, some four years after they began, that started a new and very different chapter in my life─one that I am living today. That chapter didn’t unfold to success immediately.  Rather, the process of change was long and arduous. I was blessed with many teachers, most of whom cut me no slack, but all of whom saw more humanity and value in me than I obviously saw in myself.

     One of my first teachers was a businessman in my community who gave me my first job after my career as a CPA had been destroyed by my self-inflicted sabotage. To this day, I am not sure why he took the risk. On a spiritual level, I believe that everything happens for a reason. He accepted the role of mentor, teacher, and earthly angel. He believed in me when few around me would.

     There were no handouts. He cut me no slack. Quite the contrary: this angel was tough. In fact, I’d say he was the toughest person for whom I ever worked. Yet he and two other mentors, along with my family, allowed me to make full restitution to those from whom I had stolen money. The act of honestly admitting what I had done and accepting the consequences of those actions was critical to making any worthwhile changes. While paying people back was significant, it didn’t change what I had done and the pain I had caused. Those scars are permanent.

     Time in prison seemed to move in slow motion, as if to allow me all the time necessary to evaluate my actions, my choices, and my behavior─and learn. If I had to be there, surely there should be an outcome worth the time. While I didn’t know what that outcome would be, one thing I was committed to was remaining open to believing that God’s plan for my life could rise from even this lowly place, if only I were willing to learn, grow, and receive.

The act of honestly admitting what I had done and
accepting the consequences of those actions was critical
to making any worthwhile changes.

CHAPTER ONE - Excerpt Two

     As spiritual beings, whether we like to admit it or not, we create our reality. The multitude of choices made each day, following my release from prison, created the opportunity I was to receive. My abundance and prosperity continued to multiply. Within three months of my reentry into management, I was presented with another promotion─sales management supervisor of two states.

     Never in my wildest dreams could I have predicted that one year from my prison release date, I would be managing a $6 million sales organization. A clear pattern was beginning to emerge. Choices made with integrity provided positive consequences. I was living proof of both sides of the choice issue. Choices made without integrity or ethics certainly yielded extraordinary negative consequences. Those choices made from an ethical framework, with a foundation of integrity, were yielding results far beyond my expectations.

     The road to recovery is not easy. Soon after I took my new job in sales, the area I was working in was ravaged by a powerful hurricane. Unless I was selling generators or roofing repair, no one wanted to buy a product while they focused on rebuilding their lives following a catastrophic event.  Was I a victim of nature’s wrath? How can I expect to succeed when there is devastation all around me? These were good questions─just not the right questions. Life is not about luck. It’s about choices! I could have deviated from the path and experienced a less-than-certain outcome. Or, I could’ve done exactly what I chose and stayed focused on daily making the right choices that would pave a path to eventual recovery and prosperity.

     Can we change our lives? Yes! We are given the creative power to manifest our present and our future, just as we have created our past. I wish I had gotten this concept much earlier in life. Perhaps I could Second Chances: Transforming Adversity into Opportunity have been spared the pain associated with time in prison. We all face our prisons, and they are mostly self-inflicted.

     I took twenty-three steps and learned life is not about the prisons we find ourselves in; it’s about breaking the chains that bind us so we can achieve growth, insight, and success beyond measure.

CHAPTER TWO - Excerpt


     I was at a breaking point, feeling that I had no control and no value. In my current state, I was useless to my partners; in fact, I was a severe detriment. Everything my wife and I had worked for was about to vanish; only she didn’t know that. Furthermore, the career that I had worked so hard to craft was going to disintegrate in just a matter of hours. I had no control. I was powerless. The only rational action I could think of was ending my life.

     Thank God for that major phobia of mine─fear of pain. The problem with suicide was that everything I thought of involved pain. I even considered jumping off the building, but the distance
between the leap forward and the final impact caused me some serious worry. What would I be thinking during those few seconds? More importantly─“Good Lord, that would hurt!”

     At 7:11 p.m. that evening, I grabbed the Yellow Pages and began calling clinics─anyone who I thought might help me. Frankly, I don’t recall what I was looking up. I do remember that there were no listings under “suicide”─in fact, that wasn’t a category. So I looked up physicians,
psychologists, psychiatrists, anything that started with a “P”. Honestly, I don’t remember who I did call─a proctologist, as far as I knew. The only thing that flooded my mind was I needed help.

     “You’ve reached the office of Drs . . . Our office hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Our office is closed. But if you’ll leave your name and number, we’ll be happy to call you first thing in the morning. Have a nice day!” Somehow, when you’re thinking of ending your life, “have a nice day” just doesn’t seem appropriate. And unfortunately, that’s the message I got over and over.

     Calling became an obsession. It was the one thing I could do, one action that I felt in life I had some control over. “Just one more dial,” I would say to myself as I pressed the buttons on the phone, listening to the ring, hoping for an answer.

     “Dr. Benson’s office.” That was the second time that day I was stunned. After getting recording after recording, I was somewhat unprepared for the possibility that someone would answer. Yet
someone did.

     “I need to talk with someone. I’m from out of town,” I somehow stammered.

     “Actually, our office is closed. I was just walking out the door and thought this was my wife. Give us a call in the morni . . . ”

     Before he could finish his sentence, I blurted, “I’m thinking of committing suicide!”

     Silence─then the voice said, “Let’s talk.”

     For the life of me, I can’t recall what was said between us as I lay on that lonely hotel bed. We could have talked for two minutes, twenty minutes, or two hours. I just don’t remember. What I do recall is that this total stranger, a man who I had never met, took the time to help me see past the grand illusion I had created and uncover the real me inside.

     That night was the darkest night of my soul. That call that I shared didn’t make it better. It didn’t eliminate the consequences. It didn’t remove the pain. Rather, it gave me hope, hope that if I could make poor choices that would, most certainly, bring painful consequences, I also possessed the power to make positive choices with positive results.  His comment to me still resounds in my heart today. He said, “You have made a terrible mistake, but YOU are not a mistake! The choices you make moving forward will define your life forever and provide the foundation for your children’s lives. Think carefully as you make this choice!”

     When he said to me, “YOU are not a mistake,” it hit me─while the past cannot be changed, the life we are given and the choices we make moving forward are the only things that count. I felt a burden lifted. I could not change the past; all I could do was face the consequences. It was within my power to make good choices, now and in the future, that would produce a fruitful outcome. That was my destiny!




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