Three things I’ve learned in life:
“If you are going to help me you must see through my eyes.”
“There is nothing more important than relationships”
“No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.”
My wife Cathy and I own three businesses. Tonight I want to talk about two of them and how and why they came into being. One is O’Neal Mediation Services. Mediation is a form alternative dispute resolution. We assist folks in resolving their disputes without going to court. We don’t make decisions for them; we guide them through a process that allows them to make their own decisions that hopefully lead to a peaceable agreement. Disputes can be as simple as conflict at work or in the family, a neighbor who builds a fence on your property, contract disputes, contractor / client disputes, and often issues stemming from divorce like custody issues, division of assets and the like.
The other business I want to tell you about is “For Keeps” Pre-marriage and Marriage Coaching. Statistics show that 50% of all marriages fail. Just as Bill Jhung coaches us in our business Cathy and I coach folks in their marriages. We help them set goals, identify barriers to those goals and assist them in attaining them. For some it may be as simple as helping them communicate, others need help fighting fair or resolving disputes, blended family issues, still others may be dealing with “empty nester syndrome” or find they need to care for their aging parents… or both.
In addition we coach couples planning or thinking about marriage. We developed a six-session course that covers everything from sexual intimacy to budgeting and dealing with extended families and in-laws. We do our best to help couples prepare for marriage and not be a negative statistic.
Cathy and I have been married for more than thirty years. We met at a tavern called Pizza Villa, where Rockin’ Robin is now. Back then it was on the north end of town. Across the street where an empty lot is now, was the Coeur d’Alene Drive-in. The Wilma Theater, downtown now also an empty lot on the corner of Sherman and Second Street, was the only other movie house in town. I borrowed a quarter from a friend so I could challenge the pool table where she was playing with her friend Holly. Make no mistake, I was attracted to her, but it was really “Love at First Sight”! I asked Cathy, AKA the Babemeister to marry me a week later. That night she said yes although we waited for several months.
Some call us crazy others call us entrepreneurs, during our thirty years together we have been:
- Conference Center Executive Director
- Executive Chef / Caterer
- Construction Company Manager
- Gift Shop Manager
- Executive Pastor – Pastoral Counseling, Weddings, Funerals
- Court Abstractor Private Contractor
- Personal Trainer
- Dental / Lab Technician
- USDA Employees
- Critical Incident Stress Manager
- Grief Counselor
- Founded a Non-profit Organization
- Owned six Small Businesses (including the three we now own)
- Certified Life Coach
It has been one wild ride!
The best decisions I have made in life have been through my bride’s inspiration, encouragement, and direction. She has stuck with me through all the good times and bad. We have raised two beautiful daughters. We have had many successes and some failures. We have buried both of our fathers. I cannot imagine life without her. She is patient with me even though I sometimes drive her crazy and she believes in me more than I do.
We do what we do because we think life is too short to stay mad at someone else. Remaining in conflict takes a mental and physical toll on your life. It will make you old before your time… it can kill you. My friend and former mediation and counseling associate used to say: “Bitterness is a poison you take to hurt someone else.”
I believe that we are all shaped by our circumstances. They are part of our history but our experiences do not have to define us. We can choose to be bitter or better.
My grandfather was blind and often let the grandchildren guide him around. Once I walked him into a low branch he patiently told me: “If you are really going to help me you have to see through my eyes.”
My former boss and mentor was Dr. Emory Campbell. While literally on his death bed he called me to tell me goodbye. The last thing he said to me in his labored breathing was: “Gary… there is nothing more important than relationships”
My father was a pastor but was not a powerful speaker that riveted his audience with a booming voice or big stature, he was soft-spoken, articulate, and non-judgmental, the perfect example of the old adage: “No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” Dad’s audiences listened intently because they knew that he loved them and wanted what was best for them.
Cathy and I see all of our clients together, as a couple. It was the insight of our experiences and the memory of these men that have molded and shaped us… we love people and want to help them. We’re passionate about it. We can’t fix folks… I once thought I could, but I can’t. But I do believe that we can help folks in conflict find a better, greater more rewarding life. Webster’s Dictionary defines ‘Peace as the absence of conflict.”
If you know someone we might assist in finding some peace in their lives, please give them one of our cards, Thanks