Dear friends, What do most men and women wish for Valentine’s Day? Flowers, candy, dinner out, golf clubs, massages and more.Today, I am going to share with you something that is much better than all of those. I would like to introduce my friend Augie Byllott. Augie is not alone in his belief that we were placed on this earth for a purpose, not by accident. We were placed into a world of opportunity and abundance, to be able to enjoy and to share. I hope you are enlightened by my friend's journey.
Lift as You Climb Success in Service to Others
There is an old Chinese proverb that states, “Man who chase two rabbits, catch no rabbits.” The fascinating thing was until I figured out what the true goal should be, I was chasing the wrong rabbit. I was focused on making a fortune rather than making a difference. They were two incompatible goals when in reality one is actually a bi-product of the other. We should make a fortune, so we can make a difference, right?
Albert Einstein is credited with many things but one of his most astute observations was this, “Try not to become a man of success, but rather a man of value.” Value is created in many ways but one of the best ways to create value is in serving others. In 2011, I made a modest donation to an organization, The Wheelchair Foundation. I didn’t do it to create value, I did it because a friend asked me if I would and so I did. Candidly, I didn’t think much of it other than the fact that I’d get a tax-deductible receipt.
Over the ensuing 2-4 years I continued to write an annual check. At the same time our real estate and education businesses were growing and serving an expanding client base. In 2015 we began to sponsor a charity at each of our educational events; in so doing, we could invite people to share some of their success and create value at the same time. We raised money for my friend’s non-profit, Chair the Love, LLC, a 501c3 organization.
The following year, we raised $6,000, enough money to buy 40 wheelchairs that would be distributed in Nicaragua in the summer of 2017. I’d been invited on wheelchair distribution trips before and always declined due to other commitments. My friend insisted; he was relentless and finally, I surrendered. I was going to a third world country, which I can honestly say, was not on my bucket list. That trip was, to say the least, a life changing transformational experience.
Seeing the impact a single wheelchair can make to an individual human being, and even more so on their family, was beyond my comprehension because I had no point of reference. That was why he persisted, he knew because he'd been there before and was affected the same way I was.
I returned with a new appreciation, not only for my own life but for the opportunity to serve others.
At our next event I set a goal to increase our group’s giving from 40 to 50 chairs. Somehow, I got carried away and literally was on spiritual fire as I made the request for help. I offered to match way more than I had intended – it can only be described as divine intervention - I blurted that anyone who donated $5,000 or more would come on the next distribution trip as my guest.
Never expecting anyone to take me up on the offer, I felt safe, until the lunch break on the second day...someone approached me with a $5,000 gift! It was then we stopped counting dollars and began counting wheelchairs, more importantly, counting the lives that would be affected. By the end of that 2nd day we were over 100 wheelchairs with a full day to go. Before our morning sessin on Sunday, our final day, I was met with the news of another $5,000 contribution. By the end of the break before our final session, we blew past 150 chairs, more than triple our goal!
At 3:30 we stood at 187 chairs when someone in the room texted one of my team members and announced that they would donate an additional 13 chairs, bringing our total to just over $30,000. On the stage in front of over 100 people, I could barely speak. I was overcome, tears of joy streamed down my face, the room exploded with thunderous applause over what we had accomplished. Whether you believe or not, this was definitely what I can only classify as a God moment.
After the event, I reached out to others and we raised enough funding to donate an entire shipping container, 280 wheelchairs! In August of 2018, we - a group of investors, friends and family - physically delivered those wheelchairs to Guatemala.
I believe we were placed on this earth for a purpose, not by accident. We were placed into a world of opportunity and abundance, to be able to enjoy and to share. Lifting others as we climb is a way to get the most out of life. Some may say success equals value and others may say value equals success and either may be right. For myself, I have never felt more successful then when lifting people into chairs for the first time, or replacing a 30-year-old broken down chair with a new one.
One of the most amazing moments was when a man arrived carrying his younger brother, a double amputee, on his back. He had made it to the rehab facility where we were distributing the chairs that day. They were back to back, arms interlocked because the younger brother couldn’t use his legs to hang on. After receiving his chair, they both expressed their gratitude and blessed us many times in Spanish. What makes this story of the two brothers so poignant is that the younger brother, the one in need of a wheelchair, neither had access nor the ability to afford, was 65 years old. His 70-year-old brother had been his primary mode of mobility for over 20 years. This man was given freedom, mobility and dignity because someone donated $150 that purchased a wheelchair.
May this next year be your best yet and remember to Lift as You Climb! Checkout our YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/PaKO9kA4acE