Rich Perry

STRENGTH & FOCUS: Finding purpose in the unhappiest place in America – Part 2

STRENGTH & FOCUS: Finding purpose in the unhappiest place in America – Part 2
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Greetings, and welcome to Part 2 in this series. Last week, you were introduced to the place I’ve called home for most of my life and glimpsed some jaw-dropping facts left out by the tour guides. You also learned about a few of the personal and professional struggles I’ve experienced, as well as the frustration and disappointment I directed at myself because I didn’t feel like I was utilizing my gifts properly and living up to my full potential. Before I could begin a more fulfilling and prosperous journey, it was necessary to gain clarity on my purpose, so I hope you listened to and benefited from the audio exercise in Part 1.

Once I was crystal clear with what I really wanted, it was time to focus on achieving it but, in order to do this properly, I had to make a number of changes. You can’t drink clean water from a dirty glass and expect it to taste delicious. For a few years, I had negative thoughts, unhealthy behaviors, and found myself in social environments that didn’t support this recently energized driving force. This isn’t a concealed attempt for pity or a “woe is me” moment. Those were the choices that I made during a troubled time in my life and, just as those were my choices then, I am now choosing to make new and better choices to service a fresh view of life.

If you get nothing else out of this series, get this:

You are not your behaviors, and you do not have to repeat the choices you made yesterday!

You always have a choice. If you don’t like what you did yesterday, then make a better choice today. It’s as simple as that. Maybe you’ve done that thing so many times or had that job or known those people for so many years that you think you’re doomed to stay in the same spot, but you’re not!

Yes, you can make a new choice that serves you now!

Please note that I’m not simply throwing a fairytale at you because there’s work and sacrifice involved. You need to be willing and ready to do the necessary work just as I did. For me, sacrifice came in the form of distancing myself from the people and places that didn’t support my journey and struggling to grow a business after quitting my job without a real plan in place.

On the surface one might think that starting a business focused on empowerment coaching and training in the unhappiest region in America (according to a 2014 study) would be ripe with opportunities; however, that wasn’t the case. This title is a heavy cross to bear and something that wasn’t earned overnight, so it was going to take a lot of work for an unknown 30-year-old with little funding and social status to be taken seriously.

There are many professionals in this area with a desire to make positive changes and improve the mindset of the community as a whole, and I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to collaborate efforts with a few of these hometown heroes. Unfortunately, the vast majority operates from the viewpoint and mentality explained by the tall poppy syndrome. This concept has roots in various stories from ancient Greece and Rome and is a popular term today in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. Essentially, group members believe there is a set sum of money, status, attention, and opportunity to succeed. In this belief system, a person who has prestige is an obstacle and a threat to others because there’s only a fixed amount of status to go around. When one person (or poppy) rises up with achievement, the others must cut him down. Those who dare to discuss dreams that are larger than life or amass any amount of success that elevates them from their peers are often criticized or resented by the majority. This seems to be a common attitude throughout Northeastern Pennsylvania.

As I began walking this new path of purpose, I was, without a doubt, daring to dream great things and entertaining the idea that anything was possible because I not only recognized my potential, but I was also was willing to take full responsibility for transforming these dreams into magnificent reality. Initially, this announcement brought hugs and high fives from many who were closest to me at the time, but then something strange and unsettling started to creep in. It wasn’t long before the compliments turned to criticisms and the support turned to scoffing.

This is where personal conviction and mindset training became paramount because it’s tough to be looked at like you’re a lunatic by those you care about. Have you ever shared a goal with a friend or family member and they just looked back at you as if you deserve to be locked away between rubber walls? Have you ever shared a dream with someone who laughed a hearty belly laugh and told you to keep dreaming? Has anyone ever told you that your efforts would never amount to anything and to quit wasting your time? If you said yes to any of those, then we share common ground and you know how devastating it can feel, especially when the people that mean the most to us are the ones making those statements.

During this time period, I found solace in various books and inspirational messages to maintain this newly transformed mindset, and I’d like to share a quote that I’ve repeated to myself thousands of times over the last few years. You might even recognize this from your holy scripture:

“A prophet is not without honor except in his own country among his own people.”

As I write this today, I can count the amount of friends who have been interested to hear me speak, share my blog, or offer a referral to those who would benefit from working together. While this could certainly be disheartening, at least it was for me, I encourage you to stay the course and be committed to your purpose. This may require you to make certain changes, find better friends and supportive groups, and learn new skills to do things you’ve never done before. If so, then this is what you must do in order to fulfill your purpose and transform your dreams into reality.

There were many times throughout my journey when I felt alone, shut out, and like an outsider to peers. There were countless opportunities to tuck tail, bury my dreams, and return to the old way. But I chose to honor my purpose and stay committed to what I knew in my heart to be true and, each day, I continue to make this choice to reaffirm my beliefs and push forward to lead by example through excellence.

Now you have a choice.

Will you realize your full potential and fulfill your purpose by doing what you must in order to make your dream a reality?


Will you remain in your comfort zone and leave your dreams to simply be bedtime stories?

You owe it to yourself to make the best choice that serves you!

Continue your journey by completing this mindset training exercise:

Would you like to dive deeper and speak with me one-on-one about transforming your mindset? Schedule a free 30-min strategy call here.

Create the future you want with the choice to change now! This column offers Strength & Focus for the moments you need to overcome the distractions of the week, each and every day. Look for it on Mondays on NEPA Scene.