Do you have a defining moment?

This is a little coming of age story. In every life there are forks in the road that determine your destiny; hopefully when you travel this journey more good decisions have been made than bad.

Where I started:

In between Jr & Sr high my father was relocated with his job and went through a divorce. Not only did I have to move from a town I grew up in and ‘knew everybody’ but had to make a choice of which parent to live with.

Because my dad was dealing with his own issues; I was pretty much on my own. I didn’t do too well; not bad, but more like a rudderless boat on a lake. I was a disinterested student at best. I had the abilities, just not a lot of want-to at that time and nobody was there to make sure it happened.

Come graduation time, I had no plan of action. I knew my dad wasn’t going to support me just to hang around the house, and higher education would have been a waste of time and money.

My fork in the road:

Fate, luck, I don’t know, but an Army recruiter started calling me 2 months before graduation……….imagine that, what timing. Trust me, I was not Army material and numerous phone calls ended with me telling him “no thanks”. Finally, so he would quit calling, I agreed to a visit.

I think you know where I’m going with this story and I soon became a lean, mean fightin’ machine. Sgt Rock I was not, I was 18 looking all of 15 at best.

The recruits were treated very well until we arrived at Ft Knox, KY on a bus in the middle of a rainy night. As soon as the Drill Sergeant jumped on the bus and screamed “this ain’t the damn boy scouts and you ain’t going home to mama”, I thought “holy mackerel, what have I done”? Mama was exactly who I wanted to go home to.

What I learned in basic training: I wasn’t in as good of shape as I thought; don’t pick the biggest guy as an opponent in pugel stick training; tear gas is a bitch; and the hills of Kentucky are nothing like the flat lands of Florida.

Oh, and a couple of other things: the Army is not big on individualists; and all the knuckleheads you are in basic training with……….if you get deployed guess who is on your team? Lord help me…….

Fortunately I never had to put another person in the cross hairs of my weapon. We were trained to do so, but I’m thankful I never had to make that decision.

What my Uncle Sam did for me: it forced me to grow up; he showed me what I did NOT want to do the rest of my life; and he also provided the platform that gave me confidence.

On my journey:

When I was discharged and went back to school it was like I had died and gone to heaven. I could not believe I had been such a knucklehead in high school.

I absolutely hated the military when I was serving; I could not get out fast enough, 3 years seemed an eternity. I loved the fact the military taught me discipline, direction and how to take responsibility for my own life. Probably one of the best decisions I have ever made.

What was your ‘military’? What was the deciding point in your life when it finally clicked if anything was going to be done, it was up to you?

How many forks in the road do you come to and decide to take the easy route or go ahead and jump on the road less traveled?


114 thoughts on “Do you have a defining moment?

  1. I was going to write about learning how to run the football behind the pulling guard through the “two” hole… but that would be real silly after your story! Thanks for sharing this, Bill.

    • I like it man; when you busted thru the gap and saw daylight the light bulb clicks on and you are thinking “hey, I might be pretty good at this” and then the big 335 lb D lineman pulls you down from behind and your first thought is “it must be the shoes”……….:).

      Reality is, you don’t recognize something as a defining moment until after the fact and you have an opportunity to reflect and review the results.

      Good to see you B, I do appreciate the visit, very much.

    • Look what you started Barrett, I had no idea this post would resonate with so many; and it all started w/ busting through the two hole for a gain of 4 yards….:)

  2. I don’t know when my son happened upon his defining moment in life.

    Was it at 15 when he was being tested for leukemia?

    Was it at 12 when he was diagnosed with Myasthenia Gravis, an incurable life threatening neuroomuscular autoimmune disease that strikes 1 in 500,000 children?

    Was it at 10 when his pet fish, pet cat and grandfather died within 60 days of each other, exactly a month apart?

    Was it at 5 when he was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome (an Autism Spectrum Disorder)?

    Or was it any number of many moments that are indelibly seared into his memory that happened over the past 15 3/4 years?

    Somewhere along the line, my son decided who he was and what he was going to do in this lifetime and over the past two years, he’s been honoured with awards for his humanitarian work and his volunteerism.

    Sometimes I think he decided to take the road less traveled at birth when doctors said he wouldn’t survive the first 24 hours.

    Life is what you make it and what he makes of life is amazing and beautiful, and supports individuals and families living with disabilities.

    • Wow, Elyse! You must be proud to have such a wonderful son.

      And, you must be one of the world’s greatest moms and one of the most blessed as well for having raised such a beautiful person as your son.

      I am humbled to read of your son’s journey in life and to know of what he has become, an amazing blessing to others. Cheers to you, supermom! 🙂

    • Wow, he’s definitely a fighter and you are so true in saying life is what you make of it.

      Here’s a kid who has been dealt a bucket full of lemons and he went out and opened a lemonade stand.

      Unfortunately, life does have a way of being ugly at times; but your outlook and reaction to it makes all the difference in the world.

      I hope he has found his calling and thanks so much for sharing this story; and thanks for stopping by.

      • I wanted to thank you for wrting such a wonderful blog article last week, Bill. It allowed so many to share their experiences and feelings in a positive way that impacted on others.

        Any time you’re thinking that a nice, cool lemonade might just be the thing at the time, I hope it reminds you of Lewis and his outlook on life. I know that in the future when I think of positive people I have met on the blogosphere, I will think of you and the people who comment to your blog. 🙂

    • Elyse, you and your son must be two of the most resilient people ever. Thanks for sharing your story! I’m so glad Bill posted this so I could pack so much inspiration into one day.

      • You’re welcome, Mimi. The boy inspires me every day and especially at those moments when I am feeling sorry for myself when, in all reality, I really have far more to be grateful about than sorry about.

      • You’re very welcome, Carolyn. He’s an amazing boy to raise and has taught me so much over the past 15 3/4 years. Now people ask me why I don’t just say 15 years. It’s simple. Lewis tells people that every day counts and then he points out that pre-schoolers and seniors seem to understand that best since they are never just a cover-a-year age … they are always some year and a fraction or a descriptor old.

        They’re some year and a bit or some year and a half or some year and three-quarters or nearly the next year old. 🙂

    • Lewis tells people every day counts; that says it all and what a great principle to live by.

      I do appreciate your very kind words and I’m pleased to see your comments touched others as well.

      Best of luck to you and Lewis.

    • Elyse, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your story because it elicited quite the activity. Definitely my most active post so far.

      I hope all is well with you and some of my other personal story/human interest posts will give you reason to return.

  3. Hey, Bill. After reading your story and that of Elyse’s, my own defining moment paled in comparison and seemed to fade into oblivion. You are a great person, Bill and you deserve what you got now. It might have taken you to do something you disliked to realise what you wanted to do, but I know that it was what made you the man you are now. Kudos, mate!

    • I think it is a great life lesson to find a job you just totally hate; it’s hot, nasty, no money, no respect to make you appreciate some of the things you previously took for granted.

      I was driven to mine more due to circumstances, some w/in my control, some not but it did teach me how to ‘figure it out’ at a relatively early age.

      Good to see you today Wes and thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment.

  4. Hi Bill, no great ‘military’ moment like yours in my life and certainly nothing like the challenges Elyse’s son has faced so courageously but lots of little forks in the road that have led me to where I am now.

    What I would add though that sometimes it is easy to make the decision to take a particular route but very hard to recognise that you took the wrong fork and double back to change your direction. I have done plenty of that and never regretted it.

    Thank you for another thoughtful post Bill 🙂

    • Hello Tony, good to see you today. I do think it’s hard to recognize along the journey and sometimes clarity doesn’t present itself until much later down the road; good or bad.

      I will reflect on my forks in the road but I do try to be forward thinking enough that whether it was a good choice or bad choice, it was a choice and what shaped me into who I am today.

      Thanks so much for the mention on your weekly roundup; very much appreciated.

  5. The thing that put me on the path I am on was seeing a Brian Tracy seminar some years back.
    It was my first real start into personal development.
    After that seminar I watched 2-3 more seminars on DVD with him and then I started watching and reading everything I could get my hands on.

    I took evening classes at the local college in different subjects and learned more and more.

    Where I am today is thanks to that start I got then.

    • It’s always nice to have a defining moment as something that creates a passion in you. Mine was more of a “you better get your act together” or you could have a crappy job the rest of your life.

      As I mentioned to Tony, whatever your choices are it is what ultimately defines you. We are a sum of all those parts, right?

      90 mph fastball, huh? I’m still waiting on the call up……just sayin’……:)

      Thanks for coming by.

  6. Hi, Bill.

    Unlike you, I didn’t have military experience to put me on the right path. In my case, it was a baby that did it. I did not like to have more than one child, so when I got pregnant with my second, I was not exactly sure if I want to have it. I was honestly contemplating abortion.

    But, the first time I felt the baby kick inside me, I began to feel something other than aversion for it. I began to feel love and then anticipation.

    Suffice it to say that my second pregnancy was probably the easiest I went through and I love the baby boy that came out of it so much. It also cured me of that limit that I placed on myself about having only one kid.

    Now, I have three and I love them so much. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that they are my reason for living because that is not entirely true. I am also living for myself. But, I am happy to be where they are.

    • They might not be the reason for your living but I would be willing to bet you would stand up and take a bullet for each and every one of them. There is definitely something special about a mother’s love.

      How’s your blog journey going; are you gaining any traction? Did I see a post from you where you are the ‘person’ for the business blog where you work? We might have gone at it in different ways but I’m trying to find a way to blend all the ‘socialness’ with my paying gig. Maybe we can share some stories.

      Good to see you and thanks for stopping by. Hope your day is going well.

      • Hi, Bill.

        My blog journey is coming along, but I don’t know about that traction yet. I have been invited to do my first ever guest post. 😉

        And, yes, you are right about seeing that post about me blogging for our company (What Building an Online Community Has to Do with 3D Rendering?). So, I am trying to find ways to incorporate being social into our 3D rendering blog, which can be quite tough. But, I would love to share stories with you.

        My day has been great, Bill. Thanks! I hope yours was rockin’, too. And, BTW, stopping by your blog is always a pleasure.

    • Guest post, huh? I’ve had a few requests but haven’t been brave enough to kick one out yet.

      I’m hoping to slowly blend a little bit of my corporate life into my other stories and people will start to get curious and wonder what it’s all about.

      I liken the social part to going to a Chamber social and just meeting a greeting. I might not do business w/ anyone there, but they probably know someone I want to do business with; does that make sense?

      Good luck on your post and please let me know when it comes out if I don’t see it.

    • Search Engine People as in SEO? I’ve heard there is are reason for SEO but I’m not there yet; when I need to be I’m sure you can tell me how to get there, huh?

  7. Hi Bill,

    Nice post about a breakthrough.
    It’s interesting how you hated the service but find it valuable as well? Life can be ambivalent?
    I’ve had probably several breakthroughs throughout my life and the most recent one was last summer (2010) when I read this quote by Jim Rohn;

    “If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much”.

    Coincidentally I started my Goalsblogger blog at that time.



    • That is a good quote and oh so true. If you don’t have a plan then don’t be disappointed of what somebody else’s plan was for you, right?

      Hate might have been a strong word and I did have some good times and met good people in the military; but I knew real quick I was not going to be a ‘lifer’. I actually made sergeant in less than two yrs and had success, but that is what gave me confidence to get back in the real world and do it there. Plus, I don’t have to shoot anybody in my current job (although sometimes I want to…..:).

      Thanks for sharing your story and best of luck on your journey. So good to see you Derek.

  8. I’m not one for comparing accomplishments, challenges, hardships, et al. For every person, what they accomplish or are challenged by is part of who they become and who they move forward in life as being.

    Everything we do and experience shapes us and in many ways, there are a number of defining moments over the course of a lifetime.

    I feel everyone should be accorded the respect that comes from acknowledging one’s defining moments and so I take my hat off to all of you here.

    • Thanks for the 2nd comment. Yes, some of big defnining moments and some are small but might have much more significance than you know.

      We are ultimately the sum of all these parts at the end of the day, right?

      Life is a journey, take the time to enjoy it along the way.

  9. Bill,
    It’s nice to know your story. You’ve gone through a lot and managed to glean all the good, transforming disappointment into divinely-placed sign-posts, guiding you onto a better path! Bravo! Funny how the road behind us is so much clearer than the road ahead!

    • Hey, I think I’ll do a post on signs…….:).

      It’s funny what one person’s motivation might be to another person’s acceptance that this is as good as it gets.

      We’ve seen the posts on humor, positive outlook, signs etc and I will say I do try to look for the positive, good and really do expect the best.

      I’ve been neglectful ma’am but looking at my calendar I should be ready to jump in to your post on Thurs. This payin’ gig has been keeping me busy (which is good).

      Thanks for stopping by.

  10. I’ll jump on that bandwagon Bill. Compared to what you dealt with as a young kid and what trials Elyse has gone through with her son, I’m too ashamed to put all of mine down. So I’ll skip through all of them and get to when my Dad passed away 8 years ago. At the age of 49 I said enough. I walked away from a 31 year career and decided life’s too short to waste doing what I don’t enjoy anymore just to make a living. So, that was definitely my last turning point. It’s been great ever since and I’ll never look back!

    Thanks for sharing this with us. As always, you did good man!!!


    • Oops, I’m not going to say anything but how can you still be 49…………:)

      Life is short and sometimes as we get older we either get too conservative and ‘settle’ or we say what the hey, I’ve earned my stature in life and I will do what I darn well please.

      It’s nice to be passionate about something and hopefully you have found some of this passion with your new direction.

      I know some of your story and it could be a book in and of itself. What you are is a survivor and now with your forward thinking it will take you far on your journey.

      Good to see you and hope you have fun on your conference this weekend.

  11. I think my defining moment might be happening right now. Should I be an entrepreneur and build my freelance business, or should I find a full-time position with a great company? I’m not sure which road I’ll end up on in the long run. I guess I’ll find out when my COBRA ends!

    • Or, win the lottery and don’t have to worry about either.

      Yes, that is a big choice and your decision might be easier IF you had 3-4 corporate offers to choose from, or IF your solopreneur path was already bringing in a sustainable income.

      What you do have is options and I hope that sooner rather than later the right choice for you becomes very clear and you can commit 100% to it.

      So good to see you Marianne and hope your week has been going well.

  12. Hi Bill,
    For me it was and still is the influence of my current wife who is the most passionate, engaged-with-life person I’ve every met. The lesson learned is that life isn’t a dress rehearsal and should be lived fully. I kid her by saying that behind every successful woman there is a man (desperately trying to keep up).

    • That is so cool Riley; ‘most passionate’, I really like that. That makes life worth living.

      I totally agree to grab life by the horns and live it to the max. It doesn’t always have to be spectacular in a big way, but sometimes in a little meaningful way. Sometimes it is the little things that have the biggest impact.

      Good to see you Riley and hope all is well. Talk to you soon.

  13. I have had a few defining moments like when I chose to come back to the states instead of moving to Israel. But the one that sticks out the most is what is happening now.

    Normally I blog with reckless abandon about these things, but this one is harder.

    Anyway, it sounds like the army was good and hindsight probably makes it more “enjoyable.”

    • It’s funny, because when I was doing it 3 years seemed like an eternity. I actually had the chance to attend West Point Prep School but it would have been essentially a 10 yr commitment. That was a big ‘no way’ for me but that was another fork I wonder where I’d be today if I chose that route.

      Back to the states, from where? Do you second guess not going to Israel? Do you wish your kids were immersed in that environment?

      I know you do write w/ reckless abandon; almost like a machine. As I try to establish meaningful relationships sometimes it’s hard for me to enjoy all you are cranking out, but you really are producing some quality material.

      So good to see you Jack and I’ll catch up w/ you later.

      • I have very few regrets in life and not moving to Israel is one of them. It is a long story but the short version is I still don’t know if it is a vacation spot or home.

        It is hard to say whether it would be better/worse for my kids. I was born and raised in Los Angeles so I have been able to watch them experience some things from my own childhood and that is cool.

        Long story short, there is no way to know what life would be if we took that other road. Most of the time I don’t focus on it.

        Don’t worry about trying to keep up with my content- relatively few people do.

        I am just happy to keep making new friends around the blogosphere.

    • And sometimes not taking the other road is not a bad thing, it just means your life went in a ‘different’ direction. These choices along the way ultimately determine who we are, right?

      • Until we can see the future we can’t know whether the other road would have been better so we have to make the best of our choices. Kind of frustrating to be so responsible, but…

  14. Hi Bill,

    I’ve had many defining moments in my life, none greater than the passing of my parents, which were 10 years apart and the birth of my children and grand children. Each one brings with it more clarity.

    We grow and change over time, having been seasoned with life’s up’s and down’s, having tasted of victory and bitter defeat – all of it making us wiser, smarter and more capable of getting things done that matter.

    Hindsight is 20/20 – wouldn’t it be great to know what you know now when you were 18 😛

    • Ha, I want to be back in high school with the knowledge and confidence I have now; maybe I wouldn’t have been such a dork…….

      Yes, losing the parents is pretty significant. I was sitting in the emergency room w/ my dad and whereas he was dealing w/ renal kidney failure we had no reason to believe it was his time. It was very, very surreal to watch him pass before my eyes. I’m just glad I was there with him.

      I do agree our hindsight vision is much better than our forward vision, huh?

      All these events, forks in the road define who we are. Not necessarily good or bad but the sum of all parts ultimately determines what we look like.

      Good to see you buddy and hopefully I will be rock and roll on my Skype camera today.

      • LOL – I can’t see you being a dork.. you’re just too cool!

        I’m looking forward to sharing some more Skype calls with some of our mutual friends… just please, keep your clothes on – haha!

        Have a great day Bill 😉

  15. Hi Bill,

    It was so great to read this post… your defining moment! We all have one and it makes us the people we are today.

    I’m enjoying all of your posts!


    • Well Gabi, that was nice of you to say and it was nice for you to drop by; hope you will take the time to do it again.

      Whatever your journey is I hope it has been a good one. Take care.

  16. Bill, I can imagine you in the army, especially when being faced down by a Drill Sergeant. Maybe that Sergeant has a blog you could connect with…

    Anyway, I wouldn’t say I have had a ‘turning point’ that’s being so defined for me. I wouldn’t say that there’s no one event in my life which has transformed my life. I will say when I had my first awakening; it was reading “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” back in Jan 2008. The first self-help book I ever read, and after finishing it, I just couldn’t look at life in the same way again. It was like going under a tunnel and coming out the other side in a completely different landscape.

    Take care Mr. Dorman 🙂

    • Interesting, so are you saying this is a ‘must read’ book? I don’t think I’ve heard of it, but it sounds interesting.

      I think when you reflect back on your life you see little moments you could have gone one way or another. Neither decision is necessarily good or bad, it just leads you down a particular journey.

      In my case, I feel if I had not done the military there is a good chance I would have ended up drifting along and just taking any job available. And that might not have been a bad thing, but it would have certainly been different.

      Good to see you and I’ll stop by later; I tried to get there last night but it was one of those days every time I tried to get caught up I kept having interruptions.

      • Oh yes, you should read that book, changes a lot and if it doesn’t it at least makes you sit up and think “Really! Oh God, I should be doing some thing!”

  17. My military was – police 🙂

    I joined the force as one of the first women and moved up the ranks pretty fast. After 3 years in the force, working as a VIP security officer (bodyguard) I joined the special unit and was the only female over there. In 5 years I was there I think there was about 0.2% females in the unit. So it wasn’t easy.

    But it was worth every moment of it and I loved it. However, now that I have moved on, I don’t miss it. I guess all the timings were right for me 🙂

    • Why does that not surprise me? Was it the Serbian Secret Police? Wanna wrestle……..:)

      I’m proud of you B; way to succeed in a male dominated environment. I’m sure there were some life lessons learned from the experience.

      As a lot of forks or defining moments are; not necessarily bad or good, just a path you chose over another.

      I certainly hope you are in your time right now.

      Good to see you today; hope things are going well for you.

  18. My defining moment would be when I “fought” with practically everybody around me to study Psychology. Yes, coming from a family of engineers, IT experts, management experts and more engineers, I was considered the odd one out. I had to convince that I am ready for this and they had to let me be the “black sheep”. Worked like a charm, at least I don’t earn as much as they all do, but I am the happiest; yes, I get to tease them at family reunions…so that is always a “defining moment”!

    • Great story and thanks so much for sharing. Sometimes our lives and careers are dictated by others so bravo to you for staying true to your path. The fact you are happy is a testament to making the right decision.

      I hope all has been well and thanks so much for coming by and offering your thoughts. So good to see you.

  19. Bill,

    Multilevel marketing was my defining moment. I entered in looking to get rich quick but what I ended up was broke real fast. The one great benefit for me was the books we read that opened up my eyes into business and personal development that birthed my passion for finance. This passion has lead me to a career that on paper I am unquailified for and every day is now an adventure. Great question.

    • What; how qualified do you have to be to rob banks? Oh, not that kind of finance, huh?

      Hopefully you are able to stay true to your passion and pick up not only experience along the way but additional training for any areas you might feel weak in.

      It’s funny at times we gravitate toward something that ultimately is the right fit for us. When we find that, then the hope that it is sustainable AND can feed the family.

      You do have a lot going for you and best of luck on your continued journey. Thanks for dropping by today, Frank.

    • It’s amazing how and where we learn lessons. For this reason I keep all things open in my life – because I figure there’s always a lesson to learn, to better equipment for the future.

  20. I suppose I have had a few defining moments. I sort of did it in reverse – my childhood was a pretty easy one, I went to college and grad school as expected and had many great paying corporate jobs where I learned a lot and thought I was happy. In adulthood, especially after becoming a mother, that’s when the challenges all started kicking in and I realized what it meant to be strong and responsible. I’m still learning today. Thanks for a great post.

    • Hey Julie; I also think a defining moment can be something small, something slight and you don’t recognize it at the time. I have seen a lot of people totally change once they have children.

      My boys are grown (2), but trust me I know about the challenges of raising kids.

      I do appreciate you taking the time to stop by and leave your thoughts; much appreciated.

      I hope you have a great day.

  21. Great post as always Bill!

    My most recent defining moment resulted in my starting Benefits Growth Network. I had been working at an insurance agency for 14 years, had become an owner, and largely ran the day to day operations of the agency from my role of C.O.O.. I enjoyed what I was doing very much, was making a great income, and had a very clear career path laid out ahead of me. We were having great success as an agency, maybe too much success. The timeline I thought we were on to buy out the final owner was suddenly moved back significantly. In preparation to have a “tough conversation”, I realized I better have a good back up plan. My backup plan (what eventually became BGN) became more attractive than even a successful outcome to the tough conversation.

    I talked myself into being able to poach in some unused office space for a bit, drug an old table and chair out of the basement, bought a MacBook Pro and off I went. I had no clients and no revenue, but I had an idea in which I absolutely believed and I couldn’t have been happier or more excited.

    That was just over 2 years ago and I have absolutely loved every day at the office since then!

  22. Great story Kevin; I love helping people and even though I’m officially a producer I want to be able to share my experiences and help people along this journey as well.

    I’m glad this has worked out for you and it’s still fun to go into the ‘office’ every day.

    My youngest son who graduated from Auburn last Dec has decided to give Aflac a try. He will be sitting for his life and health license next week. I want to get him hooked up w/ BGN because I think it will be very beneficial for him and maybe avoid some of the rookie mistakes.

    I guess he will find out real quick if he likes ‘sales’ or not. Looks easy from the outside, but it can be brutal at times.

    Good to see you and hope your day is going well.

  23. Tony Hastings captured exactly what has defined me…lots of character building moments when I realized I was charging down the wrong road so full of determination I nearly missed the exit ramp!

    I really liked this post. There are so many layers to your story, Bill. What a testament to the man you’ve become!

    • Hey Mimi, thanks for the comments. There really are layers upon layers but if I got into too much detail I would have to make an e-book out of it.

      Sometimes those ‘character’ building moments aren’t recognized as such when they are happening, but after the fact you realize the impact it had.

      Is your new site out yet; I know I’m supposed to be on the lookout for it?

      Hope all is well and you are having a wonderful day.

  24. Hey Bill – gonna try to keep this short…I had to jump in and comment. This is the first comment left actually in over a week.

    By the way – your state his HOT – and walking around all day and eating bad food (burgers and fries) wears you the heck out. For that, I can’t wait to get home and get back on my exercise routine!!! Heading home from Orlando tomorrow!

    Okay, my military was definitely college. I went to college with horribly poor academic skills. Not that I couldn’t do it, but because I never really had to previously because I had always been an athlete. You know how it is in Florida – where you all bread some of the best football players, next to Texas, Ohio and of course my home state of California…athletes in high school get special treatment. Well, I got that and I took advantage of it.

    When I got to Colorado State University (my military), I was lost. I had never studied for a test, written a lengthy paper, and or worked in groups on completing projects. It was all as foreign as French.

    It was at some moment, that I realized that everyone else was “getting it” and I wasn’t. I recall saying to myself: “if everyone else can do it, I can do too, if not better”. So, I started attending all the free tutoring sessions that I could. I started staying after and speaking to professors to show that I wanted to learn, just needed a little assistance. Eventually, it clicked!

    This taught me one heck of a lesson – that I could do whatever I put my mind to. I graduated in the top 10% if of my class (technology management in the engineering school).

    I hope you’ve been well Bill – expect to see me back on my normal grind starting this weekend.

    Take care my friend. Your tan friend is definitely much tanner from this Florida sun!

    • Yes, not only hot at times but downright humid too. I do hope you and the family enjoyed it however.

      I had some success in the Army and actually through the initial testing upon entering I was offered a chance to go to West Point Prep School, but that would have been a 10 yr commitment. Being initially exposed to the military was such a shock, there was no way I could see myself doing 10 yrs. However, it did start me thinking maybe I’m not such a big dummy after all.

      Like you, after I finally got in school I realized how poorly prepared I was. I REALLY had to pay attention in class. That and I was on the GI bill so any class I failed I had to pay back… that was some motivation.

      It will be good to see you mixing it up again; there have been a few people talking bad about you, but you know I’ve got your back……….:). Just hurry back, I can only keep them at bay for so long.

      It’s good to see we are both survivors and realized if it’s going to happen it’s because we made it happen.

      Hey, I Skyped Mark Harai but it was before I had my camera so I got to see him but I was the invisible Skyper too. I had to explain to him about the ‘roots’ reference I made awhile back and calling both of you tan……….he’s a hoot; I have a camera now so next time he can see my mug.

      Be safe JK.

  25. My fork in the road was seeing someone I grew up with take a wrong turn and end up 10 feet under. I didn’t grow up in a bad area, but my grandpa always told me after their death, “if you hang out with trash, you will be trash”. Those words were like a lightning bolt in my eye and I never looked back. From then on out I was careful in who I associated with and where I lived.

    • Thanks for sharing; Grandpa’s know best.

      I had a similar experience except it was my cousin; wheras I was gradually getting my life together, my cousin went in the other direction and ultimately cost him his life.

      Sometimes trash are the fun people, but perception is reality and guilt by association, right? It’s not always easy to make the right decision, but hopefully we make enough of them.

      Thanks for stopping by Sonia; I appreciate it.

  26. Hey Bill!
    Thanks for sharing your moment with us. I told you I was coming back! Ha ha!

    My defining moment happened just last year. The company I worked for nearly 10 years laid everyone off and closed its doors due to the economy. If that wasn’t bad enough, I was 7 months pregnant. That big belly leading my way into every interview was not always a welcome sight to potential employers.

    At that point in my life, I wasn’t thrilled with my job, but it was steady pay. I never took the time to think about what I really WANTED to do. I figured I had time to do some soul searching and dip my feet in the waters of something else when I was ready. Instead, being laid off pushed me right off the 20 ft. cliff and into the water. It was sink or swim time and now I had a family to think about.

    I did a ton of research and decided to take the plunge (like my H2O references) and start my own online business. I realized that I had so many skills from my brick and mortar work life that could easily transition into an online career. When I gave birth to my son, I realized I had made the right decision. This gave me the opportunity to make a living and stay home and raise him.

    So, here I am building my business. I may make some wrong turns along the way, but I’m doing it!

    • Hey Alicia, here I am; we decided to spend the week at the beach and have been out of pocket (away from the computer) most of the day. However, even though it’s night I can hear the ocean and it was a great day.

      Sometimes those turns or forks in the road are forced upon us and actually get us into things we wanted to do all along. I can only imagine be 7 mos pregnant and laid off; no pressure, huh?

      Hopefully it will continue to work out for you and your journey will just get better.

      I noticed I had not seen you for awhile so I just ‘pinged’ you to make sure everything was ok and it appears it is.

      So good for you to drop by. I’ll see you around.

    • I’m watching you………:). Sometimes people drop off and you don’t know if anything happened, went in another direction, or just quit.

      I will say it’s like being on a treadmill at times.

  27. I think we all have our defining moments from time to time. For example a writing class I took in elementary defined my love for writing and is what inspired me to make a blog

  28. I actually have a similar story. Went into the military…couldn’t wait to get out, etc, etc. That was almost 13 years ago. But looking back at the experience, I am happy at all that I learned and have accepted that all is perfect within the universe and that all experiences are for our learning. I am finally now getting it…lol. Thank you for sharing your story.

    • Interesting comment, ‘all that is perfect w/in the universe’. There is so much out of our control we should appreciate and accept it for what it is.

      I’m glad you had a good experience with it; I saw some who fought it and resisted and the military broke them. It would be interesting to hear their stories today to see if it was a defining moment.

      Thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and comment.

  29. Bill, this is such a fascinating topic and you have crafted your blog in such an expert way that has inspired the most amazing comments. How touching that people open up their most defining moments in their lives in the comments. You foster such a warm and welcoming atmosphere on your blog that enables people to feel safe to open up here. Well done.

    I don’t have a defining moment, I have thousands. I often marvel at how both the big and little decisions have made such a difference in my life. I walked the dog before dinner one evening and met a man who turned out to be my husband’s best friend. I joined a racketball club and met one of my best friends. How would my life be different if I had made different decisions?

    One of my tenets is no regrets. I have made plenty of mistakes, but everyone does. The important thing is to learn from them.

    Two of my favorite movies deal with this subject: Sliding Doors and a Simple Plan.

    We never know what was behind door number 2 so be pleased with what you got behind door number 1, even if it was a zonker (Let’s Make a Deal reference for those who aren’t Baby Boomers).

    Congratulations for surviving the military and thriving through your travails. Thank you for sharing your story with us!

    • Hey Carolyn; you are correct in that there are many defining moments, some small and some big. And not all life altering but still defining in some way.

      Even in my military story there were many moments w/in that but it would have made my story too long so you got the condensed version.

      I do appreciate your kind words about my blog/posts. If nothing else I do want it to be readable and hopefully encourage people to leave comments if they chose to do so.

      It so good to see you and I appreciate the interaction with the other people who stopped by as well.

      I’ll be seeing you around and hope you have a good week.

  30. Hi Bill,
    Didn’t know you were a GI once. I can see how that was a turning moment in your life.

    I think I had a few, first in business and then in my personal life.

    For my business there was the change in my business strategy in 2006 when I moved from B2C to B2B. I had a very rough start of that year, a huge client hadn’t paid me and my mistake was to rely on a very large client for 80% of my income.

    Personally, I would say it was getting married to Ameena. I could go on about how she changed my life but I guess that will be a post 🙂

    • GI Joe; it certainly was an eye-opener and I’m glad it created an environment I desperately needed but didn’t fully appreciate at the time.

      I too have had some very large clients which were nice when I got them, but definitely noticeable when I lost them. Double-edged sword. Good lesson learned to not have all your eggs in one basket, huh?

      Marriage helped straighten me out as well and then when we had kids, I had to act like an adult (most of the time).

      Good to see you Mr John and thanks for coming by. Hope you are having a fantastic day.

  31. Like I said today on Twitter, Bill, you’ve had so many great posts I’m trying desperately to catch up! I loved reading this – what a terrific story and also brave of you to share.

    I think there were a few for me, and honestly, I love this idea so much I’m thinking of riffing off your post to write my own “defining moment” post.

    But in brief, I think they were:

    1) When I went to drama school (post-grad). It was surreal, crazy and brought out facets of my character and personality that I didn’t know I had.

    2) Marrying my husband. That did more to change my life than anything else (and how we met is a whole other story!).

    3) Leaving my last job & going out on my own. That was a period of a lot of soul-searching, quite a few “down” days and fear, but none of what has happened to, and for, me in the last few years would have been possible had I not done that.

    • Hey, I think I reached a milestone on this reply; it will be # 90, which has me scratching my head and wondering what resonated (human interest story) with this vs the social media related posts? And I even know some others that stop by from time to time who didn’t even make this one.

      I know I could be more efficient and do this or do that and maybe more people would stop by but I have to tell you, right now I only know how to be myself; if I have to start forcing things to increase numbers for whatever that’s worth, I just want to be careful not to deviate from just plain ol’ me.

      Shonali, I used the military to emphasize my defining moment because if that would not have happened, I truly believe I would be nowhere close to where I am today. I just think I would have settled for mediocrity and woken up at 50 and wondered what the heck happened with my life.

      Actually, there were many sub-plots w/in the military story itself as I actually had the opportunity to go to West Point Prep School based on my initial testing but it meant a 10-yr commitment. I just couldn’t see committing to the big green machine for 10 yrs because the whole structure was already very foreign to me. But the discipline and responsibility (and consequences for lack thereof) it exactly what I needed in that time of my life.

      It sounds like you have 3 defining moments and a post might be made from each. I would love to hear about drama school because I’ll bet that is one where you are totally vulnerable and laying it all on the line. Probably one of those things you think, “if I can do this, everything else will be easy”.

      I know you are firmly entrenched in this world so I do appreciate you taking the time to stop by. One of the main reasons I post only once a week is to give me time to go see all my friends as well.

      So good to see you and I’ll be bumping into you again shortly.

      • Drama school was like something I could never even have imagined. It wasn’t so much “if I can do this, the rest will be easy,” more like, “I’m not going to let those *&^(*ers get to me”…! But I got SO much out of it – much of who I am today is because I went through that experience.

    • I’m not sure if I can have a ‘like’ button w/ my ‘free’ WordPress account, but I will check it out. That was pretty much the gist of my blog that I turned into a vlog this week as to why should I have a self-hosted site if people stop by anyway. I can’t imagine it would change my numbers, but I could be wrong; maybe a pro like you could tell me.

      Drama school would be interesting; was it like Dale Carnegie on steriods? I could see where it might be life shaping in certain ways.

      I can’t believe this silly post topped 100 comments but you got me into triple digits by pimping me in your weekend roundup. I really do appreciate your support.

  32. Whew! That took a while to make it all the way down here…and what great comments along the way! You’re right, there are many of us who missed this post (some of your regulars, if you will) and I’m wondering how in the world I did? Crazy life. I’m glad that i made it over here today (Via Shonali’s post btw).

    Defining moments…those are sometimes hard to admit to. I love your story and can certainly see it in who you are today (or at least what I know of you!) I have been blessed with health, healthy children and a relatively unscathed existence. I think I have a fairly high threshold for kicks in the pants, but seem to have gotten a few lately. Here are my ‘moments’.

    1. Grad school – I literally took a road trip 2 weeks before the semester began (App State) and had no intention of starting school. I was looking for a new place to live and liked the mountains. While I was there, I strolled into the PoliSci dept, found the Dean and about an hour later, was enrolled (probation status since I had not bothered to take the GRE yet). I called my parents on the way home and said “I’m back in school!” That was the best blind decision I ever made. I gained self-confidence, established a new direction for myself, and grew up. Life at Carolina was more like a big party than a real tough existence!

    2. Having my 2nd child. I thought I had life figured out, had a thriving business (I thought), and was heading into my late 30s. Boom. Pregnant. Recession. Baby #2. Welcome to figuring things out in a whole new way.

    3. This past month in business! What. A. Stinker. I’m eternally grateful that my views on business, success, and the right client mix (target) have been turned upside down. I feel like I’ve gotten a whole new sense of clarity and will faithfully pursue it and remind myself of the really dumb things I’ve done before now. I’m sure I will continue to do dumb things, but not with such bravado (see #1 – grad school on a whim).

    I think I’ve always just jumped in, had an optimism that all would work out and just recently had that tested. Not saying there’s anything wrong with optimism, just balance it with realism.

    Great post, Bill. Sorry I missed it the first time!

  33. And I thought you were hatin’ on me for some reason….:)

    I’m sorry to hear about the last month being rough business-wise. At the beginning of this year it had the potential to be my biggest year ever. As it tends to do in this business at times, not only did the great opportunities not materialize I lost some existing accounts. That was definitely a big yuck. HOWEVER, I do control my own destiny and still looking forward to the rest of the year.

    Like you I expect the best and expect things will work out. Sometimes you wish they would be working out a lot better because it doesn’t feel like it when you hit the rough skids.

    Even though you’ve had some ‘trying’ defining moments, you have certainly had successes as well. And if you have your family and your health everything else is really secondary in my book.

    Let’s just keep plugging away and keep some of these defining moments to a minimum, huh?

    Best of luck to you as you get through this and I certainly appreciate your support and will support you anyway I can.

    Hope your weekend went well and I’ll be seeing you around.

  34. Bill,

    lIke Erica I found my way here via Shonali’s post. I had devoted most of my life to the pursuit of the interesting and mostly worthless. Academia was not my strong suit. I am an entirely logical person and didn’t believe my parents when they said I was smart. A lifetime of empirical data suggested otherwise.

    Convinced of my own mediocrity I set my goals accordingly. About 10 years ago I got promoted at GEICO, where a 15 minute call could save you 15% of your auto insurance, to the position of data analyst. I had a degree in Economics and wrote a lengthy report on a problem, which turned out to be right, and sort of bluffed my way through the rest. The job was in Chevy Chase Maryland, next to DC.

    I didn’t have any friends in DC and so I spent a lot of time entertaining myself. One day I saw an ad for the annual Mensa testing and I went because I had always wanted something I could show my parents, to prove my point. I liked to win an argument.

    When the results came back I had lost the argument, but found a new sense of self. It turns out they were right and if that was true, I could do anything. I felt almost super human. I taught myself VB and started writing code. Then got promoted again. I began creating programs for people around the company, on the down low, because they hated the red tape of using the real programmers. Soon my programs were all over the company. I was earning more than I ever imagined possible. So I quit.

    I turned my attention to making a living doing creative in the virtual world of Second Life. This went well for two years, then went poorly for one. Still, it was vastly different than being analytical. I feared nothing. If I didn’t know how to do something (Photoshop CS 3), I would buy a couple of books and teach myself.

    Now I mostly write, though it doesn’t feed me yet. I like writing and see no reason why I can’t become a writer, because it turns out my parents were right. I am much smarter than my grades showed. That moment when I opened the letter to find out how well I had done, changed my perception of ‘the possible’. My moment was simply an instillation of self-confidence, which is a unstoppable force, once it takes hold.

    Thanks for writing such a wonderful post, which got people to share their stories. I find them all inspirational.


    Brian Meeks

    • This was classic Brian and shame on me for not stopping by yet; I see this wit on your twitter posts.

      I really liked the comment you were earning more than you could imagine so you quit.

      Finding a new sense of self is what the Army allowed me to do. I would say I was extremely below average and had done nothing to distinguish myself prior to enlisting. Through some initial testing and the quality (or lack thereof) of the recruits it didn’t take much to stand out.

      You are quite the character and certainly made a name for yourself in this crazy blogosphere. Now if we can figure out how to put food on the table with it, huh?

      I’m so glad you took the time to stop by and I will definitely pay you a visit as well.

      Take care.

  35. Yes, we all have our own defining moments – some smaller or bigger than others. I’ve had a few, but one that sticks out would have to be my English teacher in high school saying that I cannot write but instead of bringing me down that got me motivated and working harder.

    Great post – you have people opening up and talking about their own defining moments.

    Have a great week!


    • Thanks for sharing, Gabi. The psychology teacher use at times can be a double edged sword and thank goodness you used it as motivation and not a self-fulfilling prophesy.

      It’s funny how this particular post resonated with so many. I definitely had some first timers here so I think it tells me a lot more people stop by and look but don’t necessarily comment unless they feel they have something to contribute.

      I always have an open door so I certainly appreciate you taking the time to stop by AND comment.

      I hope your week goes well.

  36. Attend Hoot!

    If I was in the military I am pretty sure I would of been made Defense Secretary in just 2 months. Only because they would want me a civilian like immediately.

    I have never taken the easy road. I have given up a TON of money because of that. Which is ironic because being a Taoist you would think I would take the easier route. But that to me has never been growth. I want to do things my way and I could easily write a few best selling books (if I could write!) because of my crazy journey that has taken me from 15 year old Spicoli at Fast Times to this blog comment at age 43! I am even banned from one country (I refuse to divulge!)

    But if I had become a banker like my finance degree and nepotism had in store for me, I never would of achieved greatness in life because as the Pink Floyd song Gone Fishing says ‘A memory of a man in his old age is the deeds of a man in his prime’. A quote I learned when I was 18 and have been following ever since. And has left me banged and bruised and not quite solvent at this point but definitely content, and happy, and still striving for greatness.

    Which of course has brought me here. One more step closer!

    But seriously I could rattle off a ton of stories and events that would have you shocked, in disbelief and wondering how I have had so little fear. But that is why I am able to do what I am doing now at 43. Trying to start a business with little capital in a brand new industry just with guts and a dream.

    And Bill you are a good man I love reading what you write. Ok I think it’s your second post I have read and thank Shonali for sharing it. But both have been really cool getting to know you.

    • But still no bungee jumping, huh?

      Attend hoot was right; you should have seen some of the misfits I served with. You know they only do one thing in the Army and that is practice for war. And I don’t mean a little bit of practice but all the freakin’ time. I’m glad I was in during a peaceful time because my father fought in Korea and he assured me there was absolutely nothing glamorous about war.

      I actually spent 2 months of my ‘tour’ in your neck of the woods at Ft Dix, NJ. We did have some fun times in NY.

      I admire you for blazing your own trail. I can only imagine the bumps and bruises along the way but at the end of the day if you are happy and fulfilled for the most part then you are making the right choice.

      I love Fast Times when Spicoli is slapping his head with his tennis shoe and when he orders pizza at school. And of course the swimming pool scene w/ Phoebe Cates…….everytime I hear that song….:).

      I was thinking how in the heck do I top this one; at some point one of these should be like a walk-off Reyes home run, right?

      You are certainly bright and I think we have a similar sense of humor that we can find a way to take it two or three levels deeper to squeeze everything we can out of it. I enjoy interacting with you and it has been a pleasure getting to know you.

      I certainly wish you the best and I think you will find success with your current business model.

      Good to see you and I’ll be bumping into you.

  37. my fork appeared at age 17.. when my mom left us (my dad and 3 brothers) for heaven… and my passes weren’t the best to move on to college. What did I do? I volunteered in the office of an auntie (who I disliked)… and now I can share in Bryan Adam’s “Here I am”

    • Sorry to hear you lost your mother at such a young age. Both of my parents are gone but I was much older. Still not easy to see them go however.

      We are all faced with ‘forks in the road.’ Most of the time it’s what we decide to do, to make things happen or not happen that determines the outcome. The hard thing to do is see past the fork and what the anticipated outcome might be.

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

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