This week is my 59th birthday and I recently got an amazing present.
It started in November. My 14-year-old son said something to me that seemed out of the blue.
“Dad, I want to go to Japan next year as an exchange student.”
I have never had an experience like hearing those words.
I was so excited for my son, so proud of him, and, at the same time, my heart broke at the thought of him being gone for an entire school year. A world away, immersed in a vastly different culture and language. Where his parents could not take care of him. Or help him.
I gathered myself. Pulled my heart up out of my stomach. “Tell me more, Lucas.”
“I want to know what it’s like to live in a different place. I want to experience a big city. And I love the culture and the history and the art and the food of Japan. I’d really like to go.”
“I would, too, Lucas. Can I come?”
“Ha, ha, Dad.”
“So how does this work?”
At this point, Lucas, a high school freshman this year, had already talked to his high school counselor. He had figured out that, while uncommon, it might be better to do this his sophomore year than wait for his junior year, when he would otherwise be taking SATs and thinking about colleges.
He had already found the 10 page online application and started filling it out.
His mom’s reaction was very similar to mine.
Proud, excited, and heartbroken.
When she was in high school (actually the year after), she went to Sweden as an exchange student. And it was life changing.
Recently, we had spent time with an incoming exchange student that we had agreed to host. From Japan. (She moved in Sunday for the rest of this school year.)
All of this, apparently, had been swirling in Lucas’s brain. It had become a clear goal. A dream, even.
Lucas went through a first round of interviews in December through our local Rotary.
We went to Grand Junction, about 90 minutes away, for a weekend of interviews in mid-January.
We met a lot of determined kids like Lucas, and a lot of amazing parents who were dealing with the same feelings (so many feelings!) that we were.
We sat with him for a few minutes in his final interview as he explained to ten adults why he wanted to go to Japan and how he would handle it when things got difficult. And we explained how we would handle it if he called and said he hated it and wanted to come home.
And then we left the room as he finished the interview alone and explained his top five choices.
Last Friday, we got the email. Lucas was in. He got his first choice.
He is going to Japan in August.
I am in awe of what he has done. The research, the determination, the filling out of a ten page online application, the two rounds of interviews, the unhesitant “yes” to what he wanted.
I am still reflecting on the lessons for this. And I’m sure that in a lot of ways the learning is just beginning.
Lucas just knew what he wanted. He had no doubt.
Where did this dream come from?
I can speculate. The fact that my wife and I are both self-employed and routinely go after things that are important to us had an impact. Lucas’s love of anime and video games and sushi had an impact. Jen’s experience as high schooler in Sweden had an impact. His interactions with Rikako, the Japanese student now living with us, had an impact.
But in the end he just knew. And he honored that knowledge.
As soon as Lucas knew, he began to pursue.
He had taken a lot of the steps before telling us. He walked us through exactly what was required. He filled out all of the things that he needed to and actually nagged us to finish our part (a bit of a role reversal for you parents of teens).
He took action. Lots of it. And he didn’t stop until he reached his goal.
This may be the biggest aha for me.
There are a lot of reasons NOT to go to Japan as an exchange student.
It’s a huge culture shift. The school days are long. The language is difficult.
We talked about all of that with Lucas. How a classmate of his is currently struggling there. About how hard it could be.
“But Dad, that’s why I want to do it.”
Lucas looks at all of those things as advantages.
Lucas is bored in his current school. He wants more challenge. He wants to experience something different than our idyllic mountain town. He wants to spend time in big cities.
He, at least at this point, is embracing the challenge. Even without fully understanding what that is.
Finally, when he got the news, he didn’t hesitate. He said yes.
He put everything out there and then accepted what came back to him. Embraced it.
Has he fully realized what he is getting into yet? No. I’m not sure he really will until he gets on the plane in August.
But his full embrace of it is inspiring to me and I hope it is to you, too.
Because I see a lot of adults shy away from this journey every day.
Where Do You Say No Instead Of Yes?
Where do you not fully embrace what life is asking of you?
Do you deny what you actually know to be true? By saying it’s not practical or you’re not sure if it will work?
Do you say no to pursuingit? To taking the necessary steps, out of fear or practicality or “I’ll do this once I’m less busy”?
Do you not have the courage to reframe it? (Seeing Lucas do this was awe-inspiring for me–I am trying to learn more from him.)
Do you have the ability to receive what you have created when it actually shows up in your life?
There have been points in my life where I have failed at all of those–
Ignoring what I knew. That I wasn’t happy in my career.
Telling myself I would go out on my own as a coach. And not pursuing it. Until I was fired.
Getting interest in my coaching and saying no to receiving that interest because I didn’t think I could generate a full time income from it.
Over and over again.
Does That Resonate?
Does any of that resonate with you?
If so, reach out to me and I’ll send you a special video that goes even deeper.
More and more founders like you are coming out of the spiritual closet and seeing their work as a vital personal journey to both abundance and meaning.
This is what I write about. For founders, for original thinkers, no matter where they are in their transformation.
The world needs YOU, in all your brilliance and imperfection.
If you are a founder wanting to scale and sell your company, there are three shifts in identity that can help you do so with twice the impact and half the stress. Take a look at this video.
If you want to build a coaching business where you get to be yourself, help amazing people, and replace your corporate income in the process, here’s a video where I share the top three mistakes I see coaches make when trying to build a sustainable business—
You can subscribe to my YouTube channel here.
You can follow me on LinkedIn to make sure you never miss a post by hitting the bell on my profile.
If you want to subscribe to this Creating Extraordinary Futures newsletter, you can do so here.