I was quickly pulled into Alex’s story when I learned that he was raised by a mom who was an alcoholic and that he endured a great deal of bullying due in large part to his bad stutter and coke-bottle glasses.
Alex’s book is different than mine in many ways. For example, several people have asked me if I had considered including a section on spirituality in my book. I did not because I didn’t feel qualified to do so. As Alex explains in our interview, below, Alex’s book has a definite spiritual element.
Where Alex and I are very similar is apparent at the start of his book. His packs a particularly powerful punch: “I am not a doctor, a fitness guru, a psychologist, or a self-made millionaire. I am an ordinary man who experiences life at a one-day-at-a-time pace. But like most people, I have made mistakes in my life – mistakes that have cost me time and money, and that have damaged my relationships with my wife and children.”
Marriage is not easy. As we all know, many marriages end in failure. Abusive relationships are not acceptable and cannot continue. Most other challenges, however, are a normal part of marriage, and some people, rather than working on those challenges, take what seems to be a hard path, but what may actually be taking the easy way out—divorce. Not Alex.
When Alex’s marriage deteriorated to the point that he and his wife separated, he worked hard to fix it. It’s not coincidental that I have chosen to post this piece today, the day I am happy to be celebrating my twenty-fourth wedding anniversary.
I had the opportunity to interview Alex and am pleased to share some of his thoughts with you:
1. Alex, what drove you to write Saying Yes to Change?
It’s been a story in the making for the past nine years. In 2003, my life was at a crossroads. On the verge of losing my wife, I decided it was time to change. The spiritual and personal formation seminar I mention early in the book provided the kick start needed.
A few years after attending the seminar, I started The BridgeMaker. It was soon clear that my message, and personal journey, resonated with many readers. So, long answer short, I decided to put my story in one place, a book, to inspire others to begin walking their paths to positive change, too.
2. I wrote a book about making changes for a better life, so I quickly latched onto the title of your book. What exactly do you mean by the words “saying yes to change”?
David, I believe change is a choice. We can stay stuck in a place that makes us unhappy or we can chose to change our circumstances. For me, this is wonderfully empowering because at any time when I don’t feel comfortable with where I am, or what I am doing, I do have the choice to say “Yes” to change!
3. I’ve told you before that the fact that your marriage nearly ended and that you fought to build it back grabbed me when I first found your blog. In a world filled with failed marriages, how did you do it?
I fought for it! I fought for Mary Beth.
I saw what my selfish actions were costing, and I made the choice to change and become a person who could connect with my wife in a meaningful and authentic way.
Today, Mary Beth and I make our marriage a priority. We don’t take each other for granted. If I had to boil it down to the one thing it would be: I put her needs before my needs. And by doing that, her needs are always met – and so are mine.
4. I loved this quote that you used in your book: “The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” One of my Six Simple Rules for a Better Life, “Be a leader” is very much along those lines. Tell us more about your thinking in this area.
It’s about doing for others because it’s the right thing to do; because it’s the kind thing to do.
Similar to my philosophy of placing my wife’s needs before my own, our actions shouldn’t be driven by what we will get out of something. We should seek the right thing to do – and then do it. By being governed by kindness and seeking the right answer, we will find ourselves living deeper, richer and more meaningful lives. By being servants first, we become leaders second.
5. When you write about faith at the end of the book, I don’t know if you consider that spirituality or religiosity or something else. A friend of mine recently lamented that these days “overtly religious expression is somehow considered evidence of depravity,” and about his writing, “I don’t feel right about soft-pedaling who I am to appease secular sensibilities.” Did you wrestle at all with including that element of your book? Why or why not?
Nope and here’s why David: All are invited to read my book, or visit my blog, but none are required to like it.
My faith is such a strong component of who I am that it wouldn’t be authentic if I left it out. I’m not asking others to have a faith like mine; I’m just sharing how I feel, and what I believe.
While I am religious, my faith has more to do with the awareness that there’s a plan just for me. On the days when my plan seems as obscure as an oyster’s pearl, I lean on my faith to remind me to never give up, stay strong and keep moving forward.
6. What is the most important thing that you hope readers take from your book?
The book has one primary theme or message I would like the readers to remember: Creating positive change begins with discovering one powerful truth: You cannot change or heal what you do not acknowledge.
GIVEAWAY: Alex has generously offered a copy of his book for me to give away. If you would like to be eligible to win, please leave a comment below, or on Facebook with how you’ve said yes to change. The winner will be chosen by random drawing on Sunday, May 13. I look forward to reading your comments below…
P.S. If you’ve already read Alex’s book, share your thoughts below… (You’ll still be eligible to win the giveaway, which you can pass along to a friend.)
(5/13/12 Congratulations to Larry, winner of the book drawing.)