Finding My Passion

Passion is a hot topic. Ask someone what they want in life and you’ll get many answers wanting more passion. Whether it’s “Find a job with my passion,” “Live my passion,” or “I want to feel passionate about what I do,” etc., people are searching for passion.

My passion has been about finding a challenge facing society, a challenge that resonates within me. I imagine how I can make the world a better place. I create a solution and take it to the marketplace. I’ve done that twice and LFT is my third.

First, as a Food Stamp caseworker in the mid 1970s, before people knew much about the program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture encouraged then warned the Texas Department of Public Welfare to make more public information available to the public. Texas wasn’t cooperating, so I asked myself: What can I do?

As a caseworker, I was familiar with the problems people faced. Plus, I knew and had ready access to the regulations. I wrote a book, You and Food Stamps, everything a family needed to know before, during, and after applying for assistance.

For example, here’s just one example of the problems people experienced. Participants were frequently certified for three months at a time. When someone returned for their next certification, they’d see a different caseworker.

Checking for consistency, caseworkers would review the previous certification. If a caseworker found where the person received more assistance than they qualified for, the caseworker would deduct that from the current assistance.

Fair enough.

However, if the caseworker discovered the recipient didn’t receive all they were entitled to, the caseworker couldn’t tell them unless they asked. Naturally, the recipient didn’t know to ask.

About the time I self-published my book, the USDA again warned Texas to make information available or face consequences. Texas appointed a committee to study the problem. I sent them a copy of my book, offering it for free. They fired me.

To pay my bills, I started selling life insurance, where I quickly learned many families couldn’t afford all the financial security they wanted. It didn’t fit the family budget. Eventually, I again asked myself: What can I do?

Sidebar: [Our questions get answered. Too often we just ask the wrong question, such as “What can go wrong?” or “How bad can it be?” Consider: Do you really want to know! Have you asked these types of questions only to wish you hadn’t found out?]

I asked my question, “What can I do?“ imagined an answer and created Family Resource Network, association (we called it FRN, pronounced as “friend”). It was a paradigm shift in personal financial power because it offered products and services with pent-up demand at a price unmatched anywhere – and it operated within a network marketing system.

Long-term savings are next to impossible to earn a high return. A 4% return has been among the highest returns over the past 10 years and currently 1 to 2% is high. Our program, paying 6-8% annually, made a splash.

On top of that, we made it better than free. But, that’s another story for another time.

We worked with members only and anyone could be a member. With little to no money out of the member’s pocket, we paid the premiums. It wasn’t free. We had a lien on the policy so when the insured died, their family received the insurance death benefit the family had chosen and our lien assured we received the money we were due (premiums we had paid plus interest).

In short, with little to no money out of their pocket, the family had the financial security they wanted, and we were paid sooner or later. In addition, the family could earn incredible income by referring their friends to us.

To summarize: We gave people wanting life insurance a choice. They could buy whatever they could afford from whomever they wanted and pay the premiums, just like always. Or, they could buy from us, keep their money and even make money.

Do you see the attraction? It transformed life insurance from an expense problem to an opportunity. Not everyone wanted to participate. But countless people did, until the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) took my licenses away.

Looking back, I believe we would have monopolized life insurance. But the Department wasn’t going to let that happen! Until then, I thought staying within the law was what mattered. I didn’t imagine the TDI saw its role as protecting the status quo.

To prevent this type of response, I had proactively worked with TDI for two years. Meeting with them; answering questions and resolving what they said was wrong. It wasn’t rocket science but getting their written approval was difficult.

What I didn’t realize was their letter of approval meant nothing. The Department authorized me to proceed with FRN. When I did and they saw the response, they took my licenses for doing what they had authorized me to do.

I took it to the Texas Supreme Court who declined to hear my case.

I was confused and angry. How could this happen in America? We had lost. Without any evidence to support their case, the Department killed my company. I had lost my career, our money, cars and home. We had lost everything. I was terrified I’d led my family to bankruptcy and homelessness. But I was determined I was not leading my family into homelessness!

We got a room at an InTown Suites (think of a small hotel room with a kitchenette). We paid week by week. The only job I could find was working for Crossmark, a third-party provider for Sam’s Clubs. I worked as a Sam’s Club Demo Specialist.

The Sam’s Club I worked at was almost 10 miles away. To stretch every penny, I got an old bicycle and rode to work. I hated that job.

Two vital, life-changing experiences I want to share from this experience:

1. At lunch break, I’d talk with Pam and she’d ask me: “Joe, are you having fun?” Pam knew having fun at work was important to me. But, how was I supposed to have fun doing a job I hated? I didn’t want to be there!

Pam, building a business as a virtual assistant, was doing her part. But, when I would get home, Pam would be sad she couldn’t help me more. I finally realized I needed to do something so I could say, “Yes, I’m having fun.” Without realizing it then, I was developing my Ask Process and rewriting my story by reframing what I focused on at work.

Instead of continuing to see myself as a victim and focusing on what I didn’t like – I began focusing on talking with people. I love connecting with people! Before I knew it, everything changed. I was suddenly radiating love into my actions, feeling grateful for the love I was sharing and having fun.

* A secret shopper came by, was impressed with the job I was doing and wrote Sam’s.
* My manager received a copy of the letter sent to Sam’s and promoted me to team leader.
* Crossmark decided they wanted to make a video training series, featuring me in all of them.
* I was promoted into management and was up for another promotion before I left.

All of this occurred because I started putting love into my work and creating a feeling of gratitude for the love I was sending out into the world. I discovered I didn’t need a job that had my passion, my passion was in me. I wrote myself a new story – a story I liked! I reframed my focus, started having fun, and made the best of my situation. I call this my Crossmark Story.

2. It was 2011, a record hot summer and a strange winter. I rode in the snow, rain, dark, into the wind, the cold and the heat. I paraphrased the unofficial post office slogan, and called it Postal Riding.

What’s the lesson here? We are loved. Loved beyond our imagination. I acknowledged and accepted God was patiently waiting for me to get the point – I can choose to learn, grow and make the best of my situation.

You’re likely familiar with the Friedrich Nietzsche saying: “Whatever doesn’t kill you, Makes you stronger!” After Postal Riding for a year, pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps, getting a car and moving into an apartment, I realized: “It won’t kill me, unless I give up!”

Looking back, I realized after that year if I had given into my anger, pain and self-doubt, nothing that I have accomplished would have happened. Keeping at it a little longer was in my control. I endured; I pushed that pedal down again and again. But if I’d given up, I would have quit on my family, myself and my trust in God – that would have killed my heart.

Furthermore, since life isn’t about the destination, it’s about the journey – I was still in the game!

Some years later, after I’d imagined my LFT vision, I added: “If life is making me stronger, it’s telling me something good is coming!”

Finding My Passion illustrates the changes we bring about by choosing our best choice.

Passion, lasting passion, is within us. We all experience outer or external passion only to discover it doesn’t last. External passion is similar to infatuation, aka “puppy love.” Lasting passion is within us and as I illustrated above, we may get caught up in something, swept away by an event, but our passion is patiently waiting within us. Ready to embrace us when we’re ready.