February 20th Newsletter- Are You Putting Yourself In The Right Place?

Our family is in the midst of our third annual, multiple month winter road trip. We’ve titled them, appropriately, the “This Could Be Heaven or This Could Be Hell Tour”. Part I was a cross country adventure covering twenty three states in a little more than three months. Last year, we made Arizona our home for three months, while exploring the nooks and crannies throughout the wild, wild west. 

For Part III, Elizabeth suggested we explore the Southeast part of the United States. In January, we spent a month in the charming little city of St. Augustine, Florida. The history in that area is both astonishing and enlightening. It was a blast, aside from the hilarious terror that four out of five of us felt scaling the steps of the lighthouse (we are not a family that enjoys heights, and I was a part of the majority!) and having an alligator scream at us from close range (do alligators scream?). 

In March, we’ll be in the Hilton Head/Savannah area. But for February, we chose to spend the month in Orange Beach, Alabama. 

Why Orange Beach? We’ve been asked that many times. 

We only knew of Orange Beach because of one person- Andy Andrews. If you aren’t familiar with Andrews, he is a former comedian, a speaker, and the author of 11 books. His book, The Travelers Gift, had a profound impact on both mine and Elizabeth’s lives. After reading it, we went ahead and purchased nearly his entire collection and consumed them in record time. His unique blend of humor, storytelling and his ability to bring obscure history lessons into his teaching spoke to us. 

The Noticer, The Heart Mender and The Return to Sawyerton Springs became books that we’d pull off the shelf in heavy rotation. In these books was a constant reference to Andrews’ home of Orange Beach, Alabama. He discussed the Sea N’ Suds Restaurant where he and a pivotal mentor of his- Jones- would meet. He talked about towns like Foley and Fairhope, and the stories brought me back to a more simpler time while introducing principals that were consistently valuable. 

So instead of choosing a better known city, we decided to spend a month in the hometown of Andy Andrews. Would there be a chance to meet him? We’ve been fortunate to get to meet, and in some cases, become friends with many people who have influenced us. It’s surreal to shake hands with, talk to, and at times have deep conversations with the Seth Godins, the Dave Ramseys and the Pat Flynns of the world. But Andrews was different, because he seemed to be much harder to come in contact with outside of him discussing going to his favorite spots in Orange Beach. 

Two weeks into our time here- after taking the boys to the Sea N’ Suds for the gumbo, I realized that I was being too passive. I needed to reach out to see if I could connect with Andrews in person and thank him for how he’s helped us. We were too close not to do something. Those who have read the Travelers Gift will get the inside joke there. But before I could- literally hours after that thought- a notification on Facebook appeared in front of me like a tease. Andy Andrews would be giving the sermon at the Flora-Bama Lounge on Sunday- a church that takes place inside of a bar. I knew the algorithms of Facebook were good, but this was a little too much. I hadn’t spoken or typed a word about my thoughts when it popped up. 

Three days later, in the pouring rain, the five of us jumped over puddles in a gravely parking lot to enter a bar that seemed to be getting ready for a concert as opposed to a sermon. We entered the patio area, enclosed within a tent, to find the seats already filled. We scooted to the corner- trying to avoid the rain drops falling between the cracks of the tent. And after a few songs from the band, a familiar face entered the room quietly from a side door. And before we knew it, Andrews was entertaining us in person the way he did for so many years with his books. Making us laugh, pulling smiles out of our kids faces, and giving us stories to discuss afterwards. The sermon ended, but we couldn’t leave without meeting him. With the band blasting away, I approached Andrews to introduce our family. I mentioned some common friends, and I got to reverse rolls and put a smile on his face. And after getting a few pictures together, and a quick conversation, we left to enjoy the rest of our Sunday. 

As I thought about it, the contrast about how simple that was, and how much of a big deal it was to me, wasn’t lost. The access to what we want is there. So many people messaged me after and said how much they would love to meet Andy Andrews. For some, it was a bucket list thing. For me- and for many of them- it seemed so elusive. But there he was- nonchalant and welcoming. Hanging out doing church in a bar, near the beach on the Florida-Alabama border. 

It was a big deal for me to meet him. But it wasn’t a big deal to be able to meet him. We just needed to put ourself in the right place. 

And that is my question for you today. Are you putting yourself in the right place to create your success? To build your network? To live your dreams? Or are you doing what is expected, convenient or easy?

It’s easy to say that success isn’t coming to us. But success doesn’t come to us- we need to go and get it. 

Often, that requires us to put ourselves in the right place to find it. 

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