Thank You for Twenty Years

A lot was happening twenty years ago. In quick succession, I got a huge phone call, went to my first High Impact Leadership (HILS) program (where I made a bunch of decisions about how I wanted to live the rest of my life), officially started construction on our house in Lake Lure…and…drumroll please…started my business.

This last Monday was the official twenty year anniversary of my company. April 2001 I had no idea whether this business would survive or how I would serve my clients. During that time frame, I made a lot of phone calls to friends and colleagues, seeking advice on everything from setting up the business (should I incorporate or go with an LLC?), to marketing (how do your clients find you?) to invoicing (my hands shook the first time I hit send.)

One of the things I had to learn to do was decide what services to offer – and then communicate that. I went back into my files to find my first bio and it finished with this paragraph:

Lynn provides program and meeting facilitation, customized learning design, executive coaching and keynote speeches. She has a highly interactive facilitation style designed to create real conversations that wrestle with tough issues in a safe environment. She is not afraid to ask the tough questions and supports leaders to break their self-limiting frameworks. Her customized programs use adult learning principles to create a hands-on, meaningful learning experience that gets results. Her executive coaching uses dialogue to help leaders access their own wisdom about how to get better results.

It took me three months to write that piece. Today, I can look back on it now and see that I have fully lived those promises. At the time, they were purely aspirational.

I believe that’s the only way we ever actually create anything. We have to start with a clear vision and picture of what could be and then moment by moment, we take the steps to make it real. I could not have imagined back then all the twists and turns my life and business would take over the next twenty years.

Thank goodness, the path is never as straight as we envision. That would be boring.

I got the phone call right after we moved to Lake Lure. I had a full time job with Results Based Leadership  (RBL) as Chief Learning Officer. We had sold our house in Charlotte, put our stuff in storage and contracted with a builder to build something bigger than the fishing cabin we were living in. Construction was due to start mid-April.

It was my boss Norm on the phone with some important news. The firm would no longer employee me full time; however, he was hopeful that I would be able to continue to work with them as a contractor. The news hit me in the gut. My salary was needed to help pay for the house construction. My head swirled, as the thought of being an entrepreneur had not really been part of my vision.

Fortunately, the next week I was scheduled to attend the High Impact Leadership Seminar, founded by my friend and colleague Susan Robertson and her husband Barry. It was just in time. I knew I was at a crossroads and entering a new chapter. I just didn’t know what that chapter would look like. At the end of the intense week, we all made a video of our commitments around health, relationships, and work goals. Mine felt like such a stretch.

The next week I incorporated Carnes & Associates, Inc. and immediately began working with the kind of clients one can only dream of having. Plus I did continue to work with RBL for a few years and continued attending HILS for many years to come, eventually becoming one of the facilitators, where I taught for almost 10 years.

Through all the twists and turns, the relationships have mattered most. It’s really why I do this work. And here’s a fun bonus! I just recorded a podcast with Susan Robertson that will be out within the month. We share some memories and she also provides some very deep insight on her REAL Leadership model. Stay tuned for that one.

I’m so grateful for the people who have come alongside me for this journey. If the last twenty years – and especially this last year – have shown me anything, it’s that love is all that matters.

I’m so grateful you are in my life!