These Shoes Changed My Life

Jul 27, 2020
Joy Forward Nike Shoe
I owe thanks to Nike, Portland, and Experient for my business name. Huh, you might be saying!?! Here is the story.
I had the privilege of attending a worthwhile conference called e4 for a number of years. Each conference was in a different city across the U.S. in part to showcase that city to meeting and event planners. The last one I attended was in Baltimore, MD (great city by the way). At the end of the conference, next year’s destination was announced - Portland, OR. Attendees cheered with excitement. The enthusiasm grew when a Nike exec explained that each attendee would receive a gift card to create their own custom pair of Nikes. Shoes to be worn the next year in Portland, of course. The gift card and instructions came in the mail about a week after the conference. I was super excited! Who doesn’t like cool stuff, especially when it’s free?
I picked the style and colors for my shoes. I threw practicality to the wind (very unlike me as a super analytical, deliberative, and strategic person) and created green shoes with magenta laces that were fun and happy. I typically buy shoes only when I need something specific, so it was a stretch for me to be frivolous. At the end of the process was the option to select 2 words that would appear on the outside tongue of the shoe. During this step my analytical nature kicked into overdrive! I really thought about what I wanted my happy, fun shoes to say. My initial thought process went something like this: I What are shoes? You walk in shoes, so shoes move you forward. I like forward. Forward moves you toward the future. I need to look forward. So, FORWARD became my first word.
Next, I thought what do I want to see when I look forward? I was not happy where I was or how I was. During the week I put my head down and plowed through the immense amount of work I had to accomplish. The weekends when I wasn’t working, I was barely functioning normally. I was snappy and disconnected from my family, which I hated. I was headed in the wrong direction. Fortunately, I was able to recognize the significance of what was happening, and course correct enough to manage. Still, managing wasn’t exactly what I wanted out of life. I was making it through by focusing on a small light I could see at the end of the tunnel.
During that time, I learned what I actually wanted. I wanted happiness and joy plain and simple. I had lost it somewhere along my way. I knew I never wanted to lose sight of joy again. I wanted to remind myself daily as I “managed” that joy was my much-needed goal. So, JOY become my second word.
Wearing my shoes gave me a pep in my step that I desperately needed in my life. Fast forward a bit. I left my full-time job after years of hard work to take time to rejuvenate myself and figure out what was going to bring me joy moving forward. Covid-19 extended my sabbatical from work longer than I had intended, but it was to me divine timing that I used wisely. I was able to figure out what I really enJOY doing. I enjoy helping organizations grow through strategic planning and execution of goals and strategies that build towards a vision for the future. The best way for me to be able to do that is as a consultant. So, I decided to start my consulting business. Finding a name was really a no brainer for me. I had come up with it months earlier before I even knew how fully it would be used.
I now have a Joy Forward Strategy for my life, and I hope to be able to help organizations develop strategies that bring them joy and success as we work collaboratively to move their missions and visions forward.
I facilitated a board development workshop for a client Saturday. I wore my Joy Forward shoes!
Thank you - Nike, Portland, and Experient!

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