35 – Bunny Slippers
Four months went by, and the cash flow still wasn’t in place. But the Goodmans refused to give up and used nearly every last penny of their retirement, as well as resorting to some borrowed funds.
However, their time in the refiner’s fire over the recent years had, in a strange way, taught them to be calm in the face of adversity. So when the cash was nearly gone, and their debt load was larger than it had ever been in their lives, and even though the projects still required additional work, something dawned on Richard. Sharing his epiphany with Felicity, he said, “When you think longer term, like ten years out, today’s catastrophe is actually reduced to a mere irritant.”
Felicity chuckled. “Yes, when put that way, it really is merely irritating that our money is pretty much gone, and we still have a house payment due in two weeks.”
With their savings spent, and their credit extended to its maximum, the moment they had held fearfully in the back of their mind all those years was finally theirs to face.
And inexplicably, they had never been more at peace.
It was as though they were finally required to fight the monster under the bed, and to their surprise, they discovered it was only a pair of bunny slippers.
“So, this is it, I suppose. We have a few hundred dollars left, and I’m not even worried. I can’t remember ever being this content. If we lose everything and have to start over,” Felicity shrugged, “we’ll start over. If we have to move into a trailer or live out of the car, we’ll still find a way to expand your training programs and I’ll continue to build my dance program.”
Richard wondered at the serenity enveloping them both, here at the end of their resources. “I know, it’s hard to believe I could have this much peace with external evidence appearing so disastrous.” Richard’s eyes suddenly sparkled. “Honey, I’d like to take you to dinner for our anniversary.”
“What? We haven’t allowed ourselves to eat out all year! Of all times, how can you justify it now? With our deadlines, Richard, it’s not like we have time to just enjoy a social engagement, shooting the breeze together when it won’t help solve the money problem.”
“Felicity, it’s because of our deadlines that we don’t have time to squander in any other way. We’ve got to get back into the right mindset where solutions can come. Forcing them to come in any other mindset will bring us nothing. Besides, I want to celebrate—you. It’s been so long since we’ve just let ourselves have a good time; just for tonight, can we just forget about business, and enjoy each other at one of our favorite restaurants?”
Felicity smiled, “Why not.”
Dinner that night was wonderful, and after years of practice managing their fears, they had no trouble setting them aside for just another short hour and a half.
Richard expressed his gratitude and amazement for the journey, and their relationship. He rejoiced in their happiness and the unbelievable peace of mind they felt, knowing the good they had yet to accomplish—and the mark they knew they’d leave on the world. They brainstormed on what they could do right away to create value for someone else, and made plans to stay in service, to keep their minds off of what they lacked.
When they were done, together they walked to the cashier and Richard playfully elbowed her in the side. “Felicity, we’re going to be wealthy.”
Teasingly she replied, “Oh yeah? How on earth is that supposed to happen?”
“I have no idea, but I know where to start,” Richard winked and then signed the receipt.
Stepping squarely in front of him, reaching around his waist and clasping her hands behind her husband, she looked him in the eyes with admiration, and a smirk. “You know, Richard, more than ever, it’ll take a miracle.”
He responded with a grin and took her hand in his. Leading her to the car he stopped before opening her door. Tenderly brushing the hair from her eyes, he replied, “Yeah? Well, Felicity,” Bringing his lips close to her ear, his words quieted to a whisper: “I happen to believe in miracles.”
He kissed her head and opened the door. Within moments the waiter rushed out of the restaurant waving a piece of paper. “Sir, the manager wanted me to catch you—for your anniversary,” he panted, “the meal’s on the house!”
A glance passed between the couple exuding amazement and gratitude, and Felicity’s eyes became misty while she watched Richard thank the waiter and retrieve the voided receipt. She couldn’t remember a time when they had felt so entirely united in purpose, so guided, and so supported by unseen, heavenly help as they were feeling in that moment.
As they drove home, Felicity reflected aloud; “I’m amazed and grateful for the meal, but you know what? Even more than that, to me it’s just assurance we’ll continue to have all we need if we just continue one step at a time toward fulfilling our purpose. After all, what greater security could anyone ask for?”
That night, Felicity logged the events of the day in her journal, and concluded with a reminder to herself and to whomever would read it in the future:
Go boldly toward your goal. Do what you can do today. Make progress. Fall forward. When you’re truly at the end of all you can do, that’s where you’ll find what you need to keep going.
If you don’t have what you think you need in this moment, you don’t really need it. Do your best with what you have, and you’ll find that all you had in the moment was enough.
Note from Leslie: this restaurant experience is a true story that happened to my husband and I in 2009. We were at the end of our resources—out of savings, out of credit, needing $15,000 in 2 weeks, and no paycheck in sight. Utterly and emotionally spent and needing a reprieve, we decided to spend two hours enjoying a dinner together (something we hadn’t allowed ourselves to do for nearly a year prior), pretending everything was okay, while not having any clue how we would get through the week. We honestly didn’t know how we’d get through the week, or the month, or the year. But we asked ourselves, “Do you think we’ll have it figured out in ten years?” Of course we would. “So let’s think about what life will be like then, when we’ve figured it all out.”
We talked about where we might be living. We talked about how old our kids would be, and what they’d probably be doing. We tried to imagine how we’d feel. We talked about what we would be doing for others, and imagined how it would feel to help them learn what we had learned.
Something shifted by imagining where we would be, and what we would be doing in 10 years. We didn’t expect a free meal. In fact, we had already paid the bill, but the waiter ran out to the parking lot to tell us that the transaction had been voided. We looked at each other and realized how powerful, and how important it is, to get and stay in the right mindset for success. It literally changes things in the world around you.
Later that month in a brainstorm with our mentor (in the right environment, with the right conversation, the right training, and the right support), my husband had an idea pop into his head. We nurtured the idea and followed where it led, and yielded us $43,000 that month. The next month it added over $30,000 more.
This is the portal to genius: putting yourself in the right environment for inspired ideas. This is what Genius Bootcamp is designed to do. To provide you with the right training, support, environment to receive inspired answers to your most pressing dilemmas. Getting into the right mindset doesn’t just give you ideas, but it also puts you in a position to receive the resources you need, just when you need them.
With practice, you can develop the assurance that you will always have all that you need, even when appearances seem to indicate otherwise.
Remember this: You already have all that you need right now to take the next step, and that’s all that matters.
On a quiet morning a few days later, Richard opened his e-mail to find a message from Lou. It read:
Richard, I know a businessman in Europe who is thinking about having you to train his employees. Have you ever been to Belgium? I’ve told him all about you, and he’s read your book. He says he wants to talk with you about a possible semi-long-term contract—and after the way I pitched you, he’s expecting to pay you handsomely. (You can thank me later.) But you’ll need to get yourself to his office in Brussels on Tuesday. I’ve tried to get more details out of him, but he wants to meet you in person first. Feeling adventurous?
Taken aback, Richard called to his sweetheart: “Felicity, come check this out!”
“What?” Felicity called from the other room.
Richard hurried to her side. “I’m going to Brussels!” Pulling Felicity away from her computer, he scooped her into his arms and spun her around.
“Honey!” she shrieked.
Spinning across the room and setting her down on the sofa, he turned her face to his and kissed her so long that she finally had to gasp for air. Pulling away and giggling she said, “What’s this all about?”
Richard shook his head enthusiastically. “This is just the kind of opportunity we’ve been praying for!” He waited for his words to sink in, and when she didn’t respond, he continued more quietly, solemnly. “God just sent another tender mercy; let’s pray and thank Him. I think we should kneel this time.”
Felicity’s smile showed a deeper level of genuine adoration for her man than ever before. She hugged him, took his hand and they knelt together while Richard offered a heart-felt expression of gratitude that they had been carried through a refiner’s fire, and showered with more blessings than they could number.
Surely, there was no better way, to start another perfect day.
36 – Hasenpfeffer in Odenthal
As soon as Richard finished his prayer, he and Felicity stood and embraced each other quietly. Remaining in her husband’s arms with her head on his chest, Felicity cautiously revealed a concern. “Richard?”
“You’re going to Brussels?”
Richard hesitated and pulled away to look her in the eyes. “I think I should, don’t you?”
“What’s in Brussels? You haven’t told me anything about this!”
“What do you think this is about? Have you just been humoring me, or what?”
“All I know is that when you’re on fire, it’s contagious. But now, well, the emotion has subsided, so I’d like to know what’s really going on here.”
Richard chuckled. “I’m sorry, Honey. Lou’s been talking to someone in his network who owns a company in Brussels. He’s read my book, and because of Lou’s recommendation, the guy wants me to train his people. It could be a semi-long-term contract that’s supposed to pay pretty well.”
“Okay, but what does that mean? What about the family?”
“I’m not sure, but what choice do I have? Nothing else has come along, and we need the money!”
“We always have a choice,” Felicity reminded him.
“Yeah, I know; but I’d like to just talk to him and see where it goes.” Richard’s eyes begged consent.
Felicity looked worried. “Only after you and I get absolutely clear on what we will and will not give up to chase a dollar.”
“That’s fine. Felicity, I’m only exploring this because it may be very the thing I need to advance the purpose that burns in my soul, getting this message out and transforming people’s lives.”
“Right, but what about your family? What if it’s in complete alignment with the service you’re uniquely endowed to render, but it leaves your family behind?” Felicity was becoming increasingly concerned, because Richard still hadn’t said the words that would put her mind at ease.
“Then it wouldn’t be aligned with my purpose, now, would it?” Richard paused, then sighed. “Felicity, I haven’t signed anything. Nobody’s offered me a position yet. It can’t hurt to meet with him and find out how long this contract would last, and how much he’s planning to pay.”
“But to fly all the way to Europe, just to meet with him before you even have a contract? What about airfare? Hotel? We don’t have that kind of money right now.”
“If we determine this is something I should do, we’ll find the money. Remember: goal first, way second?”
Felicity sat down and huffed, inflating her cheeks. “So what would make this the ideal contract? If we make a list of characteristics with the intention to find an opportunity that matches it, and if after that, this Brussels thing still feels like a good idea to explore, then, I say go for it. If it doesn’t feel like a fit, then making the list will probably set things in motion to bring about the ideal contract somewhere else.”
“Oooh, I like how you think,” Richard smiled proudly. “Grab a notepad; let’s do this.”
The couple brainstormed for the better part of an hour and ended up with the following list:
My Ideal Contract
Less than 30-minutes from home
At least $15,000/mo net
Trainees who benefit from my unique abilities
Leadership who I enjoy working with/for
Helps further my career
An environment with an inspiring atmosphere
Becomes, or leads me to, continual work
All this, or something better.
After the list was complete, Richard and Felicity looked at it quietly. Felicity was the first to speak. “Do you believe such a contract even exists?”
“In a world of six-billion people? Of course it exists.”
“In Brussels, though?”
Richard sighed. “I know it doesn’t fit the list, but I can’t let go of the thought that maybe I’m supposed to meet the guy anyway.”
Felicity tossed the notepad to the table in disbelief and scoffed. “I actually feel the same way. Creating this list, for some reason, has only increased the intrigue I feel about the opportunity, whatever it is. It just doesn’t make sense.”
“Then I guess I’d better follow this rabbit and see where it leads. But I’ll need a plane ticket in a hurry; let’s find some money.”
Richard landed in Brussels wide-eyed and nervous. As he arrived at baggage claim, he was relieved to see a gentleman by the door holding a large card with his name printed in large black letters across the front. The men greeted each other, and Richard was grateful that the gentleman knew English.
“I will take you to your hotel, and after you have a good sleep, I’ll pick you up again at 8:30 to meet the company president, Dietmar Hoffmann at the office. He looks forward to meeting you.”
“Thank you—what was your name?”
“Thank you, Hans.”
During the forty-five minute ride to the hotel, Richard enjoyed a lively conversation with the company driver, who was visibly thrilled to be at his service. They talked at length about their backgrounds and experiences, and the conversation took an exciting turn when Hans learned that Richard at one time worked for a company that built medical devices.”
“Is that so?” Hans asked with curiosity.
“That’s right, Stillwater Technologies is best known for creating something called the InnoValve several years ago. It was revolutionary.”
Hans’ excitement mounted and he nearly forgot to keep his eyes on the road, “I know! I was one of the first in my country to receive the InnoValve!”
Leaning forward in his seat Richard exclaimed, “No kidding! Here in Belgium?”
“No, I’m actually from Dusseldorf, Germany.”
“Well, I’ll have to give the president a call—the man who invented it—Morgan. He’ll be thrilled to know I met you.” Richard fell back again in his seat and then asked, “You doing well?”
“Never been better!”
At the end of the next day, after an interesting meeting with Dietmar Hoffman, Richard returned to his hotel room and collapsed on the bed. Expressionless, he looked thoughtfully toward the ceiling and took a deep, slow breath. Thinking about the outcome of his visit with the president, he shook his head and then sat up abruptly. Before he could call home, he felt urgency to see if Morgan was available for a conversation first.
He checked the clock and calculated the time change between Brussels and Kansas, and determined it was nearly lunchtime back home, so he had the best chance of reaching Morgan at the office.
After a few rings he heard, “Stillwater Technologies, Linda speaking. How may I help you?”
“Linda—it’s Richard Goodman, how are you doing?”
“Wow, Richard! It’s been a long time! I’m great, thank you. And you?”
“Good.” Richard was polite but distracted. “Hey—I’m looking for Morgan, is he available?”
“Actually, he’s out of the country right now. He and Ray are working on a deal in Amsterdam and won’t be home until Saturday.”
“Amsterdam? Can I reach him while he’s there?”
“You can try; I’ll give you his cell number.”
Richard recorded the number, thanked Linda, and then dialed Morgan’s phone.
The line connected quickly. The voice on the other end spoke, “Morgan here.”
“Morgan, it’s Richard Goodman, long time no talk to,” Richard spoke nostalgically, smiling.
“Richard? Is that you? For Pete’s sake, it’s great to hear your voice! What are you up to?”
“Actually, I just spoke with Linda; she said you were in Europe. I just had to call you and thank you for everything you and Ray did for me all those years ago. It put me on an amazing path, and I just landed the most incredible contract—it’s a dream come true and I’m humbled by the tremendous difference you’ve made in my life.” Richard choked up.
“Well, that’s wonderful to hear, Rich.”
“I also needed to tell you that I met someone today, someone else who is grateful you followed your passion twenty years ago. His name is Hans. He was my driver today, and he was the first German to receive the InnoValve. You saved his life, man. He’s got a beautiful young family, and the kids still have a father around because of you.”
The line went silent, and Richard began to wonder if the connection had been lost.
“You still there?”
“Yes, Rich. Thanks for letting me know.” Morgan took a deep breath and continued, “So, where is this dream contract?”
“Actually I’m in Brussels right now…”
Ray interrupted, “Brussels? How long you going to be in Brussels?”
“I’m supposed to leave tomorrow.”
After a brief pause, Morgan said, “Just a second, Rich.” The line went silent again and after a minute Morgan returned. “Rich, can you take an extra day before going home? Ray and I have decided that we have some unfinished business to take care of in Odenthal, not far from Dusseldorf. What would it take to have you meet us there, with Hans?”
“Um, I don’t know—actually Hans is from Dusseldorf. But, why? What’s this all about?” Richard was perplexed.
Morgan continued. “This is big Richard—it’s a long story, and even if you can’t pull it off, can you get us in touch with Hans?”
“I enjoy long stories, so now you’ve got me curious.”
“Just meet us tomorrow night and we’ll explain everything.”
Richard scoffed, “What am I supposed to tell Felicity?”
“Just tell her you’ve spotted a rabbit and need to delay your return by just one more day.”
Richard was confused. “Or, is it more accurate that I’m helping you catch one of yours?”
“Probably so. Whatever it takes, Rich!”
After hanging up the phone, Richard called his wife. “Hi Felicity, how’re you and the kids?”
“Hi Sweetie! We’re doing just fine. How was the meeting? What happened?”
“I got the contract!”
Felicity didn’t respond immediately. When she finally did, she spoke slowly. “And, what does that mean? How long will you have to stay there?” Her voice revealed disappointment.
“Dietmar asked me to train his sales team and track results with them over the next six months. He offered me a company condo to stay in while I fulfilled the contract, but I told him it wouldn’t work with our family objectives. After some brainstorming, he determined that the job could be handled remotely. I’ll be training his people from our home office in Andover!”
“What??” Felicity was ecstatic.
“I’ll tell you more when I get home—would it be okay if I stay an extra day? Ray and Morgan are in Amsterdam and they want to meet me somewhere near Dusseldorf tomorrow night. I checked the map and we’re both less than a three hour drive to something they want to show me, or tell me, I’m not sure.”
Felicity was thrilled about his new position, and that he wouldn’t have to live in Europe for six months was compensation enough to allow him to stay the extra day.
To Richard’s relief, Hans was enthusiastic at the prospect of meeting the man whose inspired invention had saved his life with the InnoValve, and he looked forward to hearing the story behind its creation. “I’ll show you my home town! We’ll visit my family!” In his words, it was ‘unquestionably worth the adventure’, so they left in time to put them in Odenthal by 7:00 pm.
Upon arriving at Café-Restaurant Heuser in Odenthal, Richard was greeted outside the front door by Ray and Morgan who had arrived only a few minutes ahead of them.
“Richard! So great to see you again!” Ray delivered an aggressive bear hug as Richard’s eyes communicated tolerance and amusement to a smiling Hans nearby.
After releasing Richard, Ray extended his hand to Hans and said enthusiastically, “You must be Hans.”
Hans ignored Ray’s extended arm and threw his arms exuberantly around him. Ray’s eyes communicated a similar reaction of amusement to Richard. Then turning to Morgan Hans repeated the gesture. “It’s wonderful to meet you.” Hans beamed, “Thank you both—for life!”
An embarrassed, humbled Morgan diverted the men’s attention. “Let’s go inside. I’m famished!”
The men were seated near a wall where they could visit quietly, and Hans’ again expressed gratitude that he finally was meeting the men whose efforts had changed his life forever. Soon the waitress arrived and with a thick German accent asked in English, “Vat voot my guests haf tonight?”
Morgan glanced at Ray, visibly moved by the significance of the moment. Doing his best to maintain his composure, he replied expressively, “Hasenpfeffer. For all of us.”
Hearing this, Richard stopped browsing and closed his menu. He looked at Hans and shrugged, not knowing what hasenpfeffer was, but willing to try it anyway.
While they waited for their meal, Richard shared all that had been transpiring in his life, including his most recent struggle regarding whether or not he should explore the Brussels opportunity, even when it didn’t appear quite right.
Morgan stepped in and began to relate the whole story of their journey, describing his invention and the “portal to genius” that inspired it, the nachos at halftime as well as hasenpfeffer in Odenthal, and explained, “Richard, if you had not come Brussels, we wouldn’t have known about Hans. We always dreamed of the day we’d come to Germany and enjoy hasenpfeffer with a valve recipient.”
Chiming in, Ray added, “It’s what kept us going through the hard times.”
Abruptly Richard interjected, “That would explain my strange impulse to go to Brussels, even when the opportunity did not match my list.” Richard thought the details through and then said aloud, “Wow. And the opportunity ended up matching my list anyway.”
The men were quiet and the waitress brought their stew. Hans smiled. “Hasenpfeffer.” Then he turned to Richard, “You know what this is, don’t you?”
“Not so sure…”
“Well as the author of The Jackrabbit Factor, you should know; it’s peppered rabbit.”
Richard turned abruptly toward Hans and asked, “Really?” Then dazed, he turned back to stare at the place setting in front of him. He mumbled to himself, “Rabbit.” rabbit
As the other men chattered on, Richard was transported through time and space and thought of Felicity. “It always goes back to the rabbit,” he remembered her saying. His mind was flooded with memories of the last ten years since his dream in the woods, and he sat in awe, grateful for all they had been through. So much had been learned. So much richness had been gained. He held the key now: a knowing that all of their experiences had been for their good, and that those moments of glory, relief, and joy are always waiting to be discovered on the other side of the pain, heartache, and frustration—dependably. He didn’t need life to deliver only pleasure, but he did find pleasure knowing that there was joy and peace to be found, not just in spite of, but only first because of the anguish.
The men noticed Richard’s attention had slipped away. “Hey, Rich, where’d you go?” Morgan asked in good humor.
Reflectively, Richard responded with contentment radiating through his eyes. “Oh, I was just thinking.”
“Well, that’s a good thing to be doing,” Ray winked, elbowing Morgan and swallowing a bite of stew. “You keep that up,” Ray smiled, shaking his fork first at Hans and then pointing it squarely toward Richard, “and you just might discover another portal to genius.”
Richard’s eyes beamed warmth, and a grin spread slowly across his face as he nodded his head resolutely and replied, “I look forward to it.”
Return now to your copy of The Jackrabbit Factor to revisit the epilogue.
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