4 Lessons In Change From Aprils Past

“Swéete April Showers, Doo spring Maie flowers”

This instructional prose, captured within poet Thomas Tusser’s Five Hundred Good Points of Husbandry, has seen its share of changes over time.

More commonly known in the limerick form ‘April showers bring May flowers’, the sentiment offered 16th century farmers practical insight into the natural benefit of change:

While unpredictable and erratic, April’s soil-enriching rains foster an environment of growth, a bountiful harvest being the reward of applied patience and a spirit of resilience.

“Confidence to survive Aprils future hath built on lessons of Aprils past”    

Okay, so maybe it’s not Tusser . . . or considered quality poetry . . . or poetry at all.

April happens to mark several moments of historically transformative change in the Tall Tim Story. Whether divine plan or strategic coincidence, the resultant impact and influence of these four experiences each led to incredible personal growth, my bounty a simplified perspective on life:

Find something you love and do it. Do it well.

It can be that simple.    

April 11th

Event: Change of Command Ceremony, Coast Guard Cutter Point Whitehorn, St. Thomas, United States Virgin Islands

Lesson: The Big Picture of tomorrow is a collection of Small Realities from today

It was a sunny, typically tropical day when I assumed Command of the Point Whitehorn. The ceremony went off without a hitch, the band played, and everyone sipped champagne.

When the dust had settled and guests departed, I had ten sets of eyes turn to me and ask,

“What do we do now, Skipper?”

Here was my crew, ten souls I had thought about on end for months, looking to me for simple instruction and I had no idea what to say.

Imagine that. After all the mental preparation, I had not given thought to what the next step in our daily routine would be.

The only thing I could think of at the time was to take the rest of the day off.

What a painful lesson in change management.

My time had been devoted to Big Picture potential, decisions, and actions I may never have to consider. What I should have focused on were Realities, the day-to-day commitments, routine and structured discipline that prime a unit for success. 

I was relying on my confidence and accomplishments as an Officer, what got me to the moment, and not preparing for the ultimate responsibility of becoming a Commanding Officer. This reflected a predictable pattern that up to this point had allowed incredible success.

Unfortunately, this tendency overshadowed preparing for my new role. Life will provide opportunities to learn and grow, however painful or painfully obvious those might be.

April 30th

Event: Closing on Purchase of 80-seat Italian Restaurant, Tucson, Arizona

Lesson: Optimism and Hope work best when paired with Knowledge and Experience

Leaving the Title Office was another pinch-me moment. Was this really happening?

After months of intense negotiation, the little restaurant we had dubbed Our “Spot” was now “Our” Spot.

I was going into the venture stone cold. There was no family history of restaurant ownership or management to rely on, outside of our mom’s hot dog stand in Chicago, or the breakfast café she had recently opened in our hometown.

All I had was confidence and enthusiasm. “How hard can it be?” I asked myself and anyone who would listen. “It will be like having people over for dinner every night.”

Our story did not have a happy ending. Bottom line was that I didn’t know how to grow the restaurant, how to generate additional capital after investing almost every penny in purchasing the business.

Optimism and hope are key qualities to possess, but they won’t make customers walk through your door without a little help.

If I had invested even a year in any sort of restaurant management position, I would have had enough knowledge and experience to bring my chances at least up to par.

Re-building from the ashes would test every ounce of my resilience, but like a diamond from a lump of coal, brilliance was the result.

April 27th

Event: Orientation, Orlando World Center Marriott, Orlando, Florida

Lesson: Empathic Empowerment begins “in” and works “out”

Events were set in motion by an exploratory email: “Wondering if any of the Tampa PDMs would be interested in our Director of Learning position?”

The inuendo was intentional, with the sender fully aware of my status as the only PDM in Tampa.

My response was simple: “Talk to me”.

A couple of months and multiple interviews later, I was offered the position.

Learning and development from a regional perspective had involved delivering content, checking for understanding, then moving on to the next opportunity. This defined what I did.

Relocating to the organization’s largest hotel, with 2009 rooms and close to 1500 associates defined who I am.

I was once again part of a property’s leadership team, reconnected with the emotional investment required to successfully operate a full-service hotel. Upon conclusion of Orientation, I could hear the whispers of Aprils past: What do we do now?

Those voices reminded me that engaging others begins with a look in the mirror.

Inherent desire and natural ability resulted in this moment, the promise of what might or could be. That promise would be measured by the extent to which I fulfilled the purpose and passion behind our people first culture.

Love for what I do bubbled to the surface. Words carried a heightened sense of vulnerability, requiring nothing shy of complete transparency in delivery and reinforcement.

Trust became paramount to guiding others in their performance and personal development.  Employees came to know me, assured of my sincere and genuine belief in their potential to achieve great things. Everyone has a voice. Value exists in listening to what’s being expressed.   

Sharing this perspective removed barriers to performance execution and strengthened the connective tissue among teams.

Together, we would pursue excellence with intention, supported by a mutual understanding, an empathic empowerment that began within, and then worked “out”.

April 2020

Event: Furlough due to Global Pandemic

Lesson: Strength lies within the unity of the human spirit

It was something Anna and I had discussed at the beginning of 2020.

After 20 years of service, leaving the organization was a logical step in my personal growth and development. I was ready to engage with private clientele, my wealth of experience adding value to every interaction. When? was the only question that remained.

A question answered when the world came to a complete and sudden stop amid a global pandemic.

We launched TShamrell a Coaching and Consulting firm. Suddenly I had everything I had dreamed of: writing and creating new content every day from the Second floor on 3rd Avenue (my home office), surrounded by family, including our two sons, both having returned home, displaced by the pandemic. And I don’t dread Mondays.

The only thing missing were clients, along with the ability to build a business and personal brand through networking and engaging with industry representatives. Patience and resilience, everything comes in its own time.

Through it all, I have been continuously inspired by the character of people. Those who choose to embrace what once was, and make long overdue improvements, fill me with renewed vitality and passion for not only what I do, but who I am.

This time, hope and optimism are being paired with knowledge and experience, building on the strength that lies within the unity of undaunted human spirit. The spirit to keep going, keep growing, and keep glowing.

Each and every Tuesday, right here through Tall Tim Talks.

Tall Tim’s Lessons from Aprils Past

The Big Picture of tomorrow is a collection of Small Realties from today.

Optimism and Hope work best when paired with Knowledge and Experience.

Empathic Empowerment begins “in” and works “out”.

Strength lies within the unity of the human spirit.      

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