An Introduction to John Nguyen...
In the evolution of my life, I have learned some powerful lessons from the most unlikely of teachers. One of the goals of my work is to share inspiring stories in the hope that you will pull something from my words that can positively be applied to your own life. Experience is a great teacher, and, in my opinion, we don't learn from things when they are going well-as much as we learn from the setbacks of life. I suppose that is why the phrase is called “growing pains,” as opposed to “growing pleasures”! If we are fortunate enough to learn from the setbacks of others, life can hold some interesting surprises by virtue of the people we meet.

I am told, and I truly believe, that life lessons repeat until we learn from them. For me, this is represented in the phrase, “wherever you go, that's where you are." From what I have seen in my own life, and in countless others, we can't run from our life's stresses and challenges. It seems we carry them with us until we find a way to resolve them. One of the life lessons I continue to learn (meaning that I still stumble here) is to focus on what I want in life and not what I don't want. What we focus on expands. And it is with deliberate effort that I arise in the morning and focus on what I am grateful for and look forward to, as opposed to thinking of the problems and anticipated challenges in the day ahead. Since setting the stage for a great day starts the moment we awake in the morning, I often need creative methods to stimulate and inspire my thinking. And, as a visual person, I frequently envision two dogs when I get out of bed. I picture that I get to either feed a little golden lab puppy, or a pit bull salivating for my attention. Like most of us, I'd much rather tend to that happy puppy than an agitated pit bull. Hence, I strive to feed my good dog in the morning and ignore the aggravated one, hoping he will go away. Further, at times I mentally take the puppy with me knowing that the pit bull will quickly jump into my lap if I do not…especially during challenging days.

In my recent newsletters, I wrote about the power of ‘interpretation’. This month's story will be about a man I met in Vietnam, and it could prove to be the most valuable lesson from my year long experience with this amazing country. Perhaps you have heard the phrase, "when the student is ready, the teacher appears," and in this case, I was unaware of how ready I was to meet this remarkable teacher. Of many things, he has taught me about faith and vision.

This all began in that, as a member of the Young Presidents Organization, I had accepted a position as ‘Chairman’ of the annual President's Retreat. This meant I had the responsibility of coordinating a unique and educational travel experience for approximately 50 business leaders from Southern California. Knowing that this accomplished group had already seen many parts of the world, I sought out a destination that most likely had not been on their past travel itineraries. My sense was that many folks had not visited Vietnam, and it could likely hold a fascination from both an historical and an opportunistic perspective.

As I started my preparation, it became apparent that I would need an experienced group in Vietnam to coordinate with me to help to make this a once in a lifetime experience for my friends, colleagues, and new members of our group. I sought out referrals from folks who had done what I was attempting to do, and as such, to also save time. I had visited with, and spoken to, many people and had settled in on a group from the four who met the criteria I had established. It was on my second Vietnam planning trip that September that, as a favor to an YPO member, I agreed to speak with another high-end travel company. Emails started to be exchanged and, quite honestly, I did my best to discourage this group and a man by the name of ‘John’ who was quite determined to meet with me. Finally, on my last day in Saigon I agreed to meet John, telling him that I was 99.9% sure it would not lead to business for him and did not want to waste his time. He nonetheless agreed to meet, and added one significant piece of information that put me in quite an awkward position, I will admit.

When I arrived, John was early to our meeting. I brought along the two members who were with me as part of the ‘retreat committee’. To make a long story short, we were all completely impressed and a bit surprised by John's presentation. He was clearly bright, articulate, and seemingly far more knowledgeable than any local groups we had spoken with about our trip. Still, feeling a little uneasy at making a change, and with a bit of doubt at how our group might respond to John, we said we would sleep on it and get back to him. That said, I was very confident that I was being tested, and knew I had a critical decision to consider. I either play it safe with my first choice, or go with my gut and endure whatever criticism could develop as a result of going with John and his group.

I decided upon John!

He pushed me hard, and led us to what will prove to be one of the most fascinating life experiences many of us had on our recently completed voyage. It was also highly unusual in that John was with us throughout the entire week of our visit, something he and his staff told us he never does. He went all but unnoticed as we navigated Hanoi and Saigon and moved 55 people through an engaging itinerary.

I decided to wait until the last night to introduce John, share his story, and what it meant to me and to the success of our Vietnam experience.

On that last night in country, we had a show, awards to recognize individuals in our group and to thank people who truly contributed to our journey. On this night in the old Saigon Opera House I introduced John and his wife Pearl. His wife was with John as he worked all week to ensure we were well looked after. I set the stage by telling the group that like most of us, great vision leads to great businesses and families being built. In John's case, his 160 employee company had more than 50,000 people travel on one of his tour packages the prior year. John's case is truly one where “seeing is believing,” and having faith and not letting others hold you back from doing things we know we are capable of.

You see, John is blind. He lost his sight eight years ago at the age of 28.

You can imagine the type of obstacles John has had to overcome, and still overcomes on a daily basis. To spend time with John, work with his team, and listen to his wisdom is a gift I would never have experienced had I not been open to possibilities. He has made me see how I often I doubt the things I cannot see – whereas he must overcome that as part of his daily existence. After John lost his sight he was perceived to be unable to perform in a way that his employer saw as beneficial. John faced the reality of being unemployed. Next, he did the unthinkable; he started his own travel company.

Think of this as it relates to your own life. Do you find yourself thinking of obstacles more often than opportunities? Do you unintentionally perpetuate what you don't want in life by focusing on it? Do you seek ways to run from, or escape things that simply will not go away? Do you feel unfairly burdened in ways that, when you hear of John's story, are perhaps quite small in the grand scheme of things? What puppy gets fed and grows in your day (and in your life) more than you would like?

Since my return from Vietnam, I have often looked at this photo of John with awe and gratitude. On the days when the pit bull is looming, John brings that golden lab back into my daily life. I am a better man for knowing John and I hope that in some small way, you will let his story help you push past the things that most often hold you back in your life journey.

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Author's Bio: 

About James McPartland:
In my present work I am an author, international speaker, and ‘wellness ambassador’ focused on developing the human potential within business. My experience includes serving as an investor, board member, and president of a leading global fitness manufacturing company. That work, and my present business at ‘The JMac Performance Group’ has allowed me to play a leadership role in the health and fitness industry for more than twenty years.

Elements of my pursuit have found me studying the lifestyle trends and cultural views of wellness in over sixty countries. This has led to a robust consulting practice developing healthy people - thus leading to a healthy, innovative, and more profitable business.

Much of my current business advisory and speaking activity demonstrates a philosophy we call ‘Crosstraining for Life’™. New research has been introduced this year that focuses on uncovering the potential that lies within a company - through work developing the potential of the people employed inside the business.

About The JMac Performance Group:
A ‘Human Performance Company’ dedicated to improving the health and profitability of a company by unlocking the potential of its employees. Business and people development consulting is cultivated through seminars, workshops, and executive retreats.

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