How Tying Shoe Laces Changed a Man’s Life

Tying Shoe Laces

Working with people 1:1 means I am the very happy recipient of the most incredible transformational stories, many of which literally change people’s lives (and the lives of those around them – the ripple effect is immense). The one I want to share with you today stuck with me for quite some time and it even made it into my book.

Tim was early 30’s, newly married and half way through his wife’s first pregnancy. All a bit of a dream really, yet to him life felt like going up a very steep hill. His conversations were changing and he had a new favourite phrase, ‘the inevitable’ – the unavoidable truth no one talks about. One day he was particularly perky after a visit to the obstetrician, greeting me with a hand shake and the words, ‘Hi, I’m the cheque book’. I’m the guy, the third wheel, the one always a step behind, I don’t have the shiny ring and I’m not the one carrying the baby.

Of course Tim could see how the story played, it’s just he seemed to pick up the wrong script. He just needed some editing. I asked him if he was a fun guy, of course he said yes. ‘So when was the last time you were a fun guy?’ I asked. He went quiet, he went dark, he went
within. ‘I’m not sure,’ he said.

He started to talk and he became swamped with overwhelm: ‘How are we going to get together a deposit, buy a house, and get through all the hurdles?’ In some ways he was frustrated no one had told him how it would play out. I asked Tim how much he needed. He looked confused. I said, ‘Well, you have clearly put a lot of thought into the cost of all these things, so how much do you need? What’s the cost for the next five years?’ Of course he didn’t have any answers. He was just stuck in a thought train and didn’t know where he was getting off. ‘Let’s play ball,’ I said. ‘Let’s say everything goes exactly as planned… where will you be in seven years?’ No reply, as there was no answer. He barely knew what was happening after their baby’s birth.

‘What if I was sitting on a verandah, looking out over the ocean with the waves coming in and you were telling me how the last seven years actually panned out?’ He took the challenge. I organised a coffee catch-up and ten days later I went to meet him for his answer.

He described how the question really disturbed him. It stayed in his mind for days. Then he spoke to his wife about it, asking her the same question. To his surprise she had a clear answer. Talking gave him words to help describe how he was feeling, to see his roadblocks, and how to overcome them. He wanted to become more fun. He wanted to connect more. He wanted to be more than just ‘a wallet’. He spoke to me for almost an hour and at the end I asked him: ‘How are YOU going to remind YOURSELF about this conversation so you don’t fall back into your old you?’

He smiled then he laughed: ‘I knew you would ask me that! Well I have an answer. This morning, as I was putting my shoes on to come see you, I wondered at what age do kids learn to tie their shoe laces and it came to me. Every morning as I tie my shoes is my one minute to connect and
celebrate the person I am and the person I am becoming.’

I asked him how many of his shoes had laces, he laughed: ‘Yes I will need to buy another pair to keep up.’

How beautiful. How pure. So here’s your challenge for today: find that simple gesture. A reminder. To help you celebrate YOU, what you cherish about you, what you’re learning about you and all that you are.

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