Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Drapes Drawn Back (Please Open The Windows)

This is likely to be a long post. (And that's a good thing.)

I'll start at the end so that it will make sense. Last night in my prayers, I asked for additional enlightenment about a call I got yesterday afternoon from Dale Delmege, a long time friend and senior mentor. Dale is one of the brightest people in the industry. He intimidates everyone else because of his intelligence. Not me. He treats me like a son. I get tons of really great thinking from him. He appreciates me because I appreciate him. And he gets some pretty great thinking from me sometimes too, which is an infrequent experience in the collision repair business.

As I was on my knees, I was troubled that I had not immediately comprehended the "way" that Dale's suggestion might be applied. I could not see the path in front of it. Troubled because the mark of the Holy Ghost's working with me, and of God's hand in things in my life, is that my mind is energized and thoughts and ideas that I had never before conceived come streaming through my brain. It is a thought storm with lightning. And then there is a peace. And that's what happened last night, for about two hours. I would be praying and have to turn on the light so I could write stuff down, turn off the light, another set of lightning bolts, claps of thunder (the echoing and amplification of ideas), and then have to turn the lights on again to write. As I say, this went on for two hours. Sometimes, I’d just leave the light on and go back to praying, knowing that it wasn’t going to be worth the effort to turn the light off.

Three weeks ago, after 7 weeks of preparation, I presented proposals for consulting work to BASF. I think it went well but I have never gotten an “it will work out with BASF” feeling. Not that it wouldn’t, nor that I should be worried, just no big confirmation. Gayle has asked a number of times, “what are you feeling”, and the answer has always been, “no big feelings.”

So let me go back to the beginning of the story and the middle of yesterday afternoon and take it chronologically.

I made calls to two people in the industry about researching a management system for Tim’s shop. Because I have to explain that I am no longer with GarageFly, I also need to explain what I am going to do. I try to describe the ideas I presented to BASF and invariably get, after a pretty full description, a very favorable response about it being powerful stuff and desperately needed by the industry. These are people who are connected to hundreds and thousands of shops who can help introduce some of the things I’m thinking of and so it’s valuable.

Later in the afternoon, I got an unsolicited call from Dale. I had sent him my new contact information, but it had not required a response. But we hadn’t talked in a couple months and he took the opportunity, after everything had calmed down going into the weekend to call and see how things were going. I reported that the contact he had given me at Hertz had not responded to a number of calls from me. Dale said he’d touch back and try to kick that forward.

But the natural question then was “what are you going to do then? Is there anything on the burner?” I told him about the ideas I had presented to BASF. Before we could explore those, we had to chat about the bad deal he got from BASF a couple years ago. (They terminated his consulting contract abruptly, ostensibly to give it to a friend of the marketing director who really needed the work in order to survive. On one hand, it was a kind thing to do and the kind of back-scratching that goes on all the time. But, it also meant virtually bankrupting the consulting business Dale was trying to leave to his daughter, Laura. She closed the company and moved to N.C. with her new husband to stay home with her kids. Maybe, it was all as it was supposed to be, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be bitterness and bad feelings.)

As we talked about the ideas I had presented, Dale asked if I knew anyone at Sherwin-Williams anymore. (Up until I left ABW, I knew people all the way to the top because we were the largest independent shop customer they had in the country. We had been flown out to meet with their senior management in Cleveland and knew them all the way up to the division general manager level. But they have had a nearly complete management change since then.) Dale said we should present this to Rodes Brown and Tom Hablisol, respectively the head of national sales and the division manager. He asked if I was going to NACE and that maybe we could hook up a meeting.

I finished the call mildly energized, if for no other reason than that Dale had thought the ideas valuable and worthy of presenting before other companies. And that’s where I left it until bed time.

In my prayers, I asked to get the kind of feelings that hadn’t come yet, the ones where I see the ideas clearer, where they expand and multiply and they start to become a tangible hologram. About ten minutes into my prayers, the picture began to come into focus and details of how to put the relationship together began to come together. The ideas became energized. Necessary questions also came, ones that would need to be answered, but even that is part of the experience of comprehending and perceiving the situation at a whole new level.

So, with faith and hopeful anticipation, I will begin to follow up on all the thoughts that came into my head.

Marissa had suggested a couple of months ago that she felt impressed with Ether chapters 2 and 3 on our behalf, and that maybe we should be thinking in terms of preparing solutions to our problems and asking God to “touch” them and bring them to life. I have taken that to heart and have been praying along that line, but again, never got a full confidence that we were moving ahead with BASF. After last night, I have an energized feeling about calling on the powers of heaven on our behalf.

I am grateful for the confirmations of the Lord that He is interested and involved in our lives, and that each of us have special and peculiar ways in which we feel that involvement and influence, that communication. Last night was a tender mercy.

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