When He Stopped Chasing Success, He Found Significance: John Sikkema #70

Warwick Fairfax

June 1, 2021

John Sikkema had it all. Except peace. Having carved out successful careers in insurance sales and finance, he felt in his 40’s that his life was careening out of control. Soon his car was, too. It was the combination of the accident he was surprised he survived, and the damage his obsession with making money was doing to his marriage and his faith, that led him to something better than the bottom line.  When he heard a message at church about pursuing a greater purpose, one that involved serving others, he began a journey to the kind of joy money absolutely cannot buy. Today, as chairman of Halftime Australia, an executive coaching and mentoring organization, he helps other business leaders build lives of significance in the next act of their careers.

To learn more about John Sikkema and Halftime Australia, visit www.halftime.org.au. The organization also has a U.S. branch: www.halftime.org

Highlights

  • His youthful crucibles (2:18)
  • The origins of his entrepreneurial streak (5:48)
  • The hunger to make something of himself (9:09)
  • Finding his professional calling in business and insurance (12:44)
  • Helping people and building significance through financial planning (20:53)
  • Becoming a workaholic (25:42)
  • The car crash that nearly killed him … and rearranged his priorities (26:50)
  • When he realized he didn’t like who he had become — and what changed that feeling (29:43)
  • How community involvement helped his marriage (45:42)
  • Wisdom about a life well-lived from Gandhi (49:38)
  • The 13 things change about his life John wrote down … which changed his life (1:09:37)

Transcript

Warwick F:

Welcome to Beyond The Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

John S:

I’d become a workaholic at that point and was working 80 hours a week and I had all the trappings of success. I built a beautiful architect home overlooking a beach and a golf course out of convict bricks. I had a beach house at Orford an hour from Hobart on the beach. I had the BM and I had four kids at private school and I was running and jogging every couple of days. Life looked pretty cool on the outside. I’m a CEO, the largest shareholder. I’m churchgoing. I looked really good, but cracks started appearing and the wheels started falling off.

Gary S:

It would turn out that it wasn’t just John Sikkema’s life that was careening out of control. Soon his car was too, and it was the combination of the accident he was surprised he survived and the distance his obsession with making money put in his marriage and his faith that led to his putting the wheels back on in a meaningful way. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, cohost of the show and the communications director for Crucible Leadership. In this conversation with Warwick, John talks in detail about how chasing the wrong things brought him material wealth, but also brought him low. Then a message he heard at church about pursuing a greater purpose, one that involves serving others, led him to find joy that money absolutely could not buy. Today, as chairman of Halftime Australia, an executive coaching organization, he helps other business leaders build lives of significance in the next act of their careers.

Warwick F:

Well, John, thank you so much for being here. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and loved reading your book. I mean, it’s just so… it’s really inspiring and so much of what we talk about in Crucible Leadership and you really model this. You’ve lived this. Tell us a bit about the backstory. I know you were born in Holland and came to Australia and in Tasmania and life was not exactly easy when you first came out. There was some adjustments. Tell us a bit about just growing up in Tasmania and just that transition as a five-year old boy to Tasmania.

John S:

It was quite a transition. One of the things I remember was it age five going to school and my mum liked making homemade clothes and not only couldn’t I speak the language, but I had clothes that looked different than all the other children. I can remember when I look back it now, I was quite a shy boy growing up when I look back on it. But certain things I was prepared to speak up against and I said to my mum when I came home from school, “Mum, I’m not wearing homemade clothes anymore. You’re going to have to buy me the same clothes as everybody else. Another thing is, I don’t want you to speak Dutch at home anymore. I want you to speak English because otherwise we’ll never learn the language here.” First five years we were here, my mum cried almost every day. My dad had spent five years in America during the war. He was in the merchant Navy and his vessel was blown up and he was some of the few that escaped in a lifeboat and was picked up by a American destroyer called Rodney and ended up in South Africa. Then they went to America and he stayed there for the whole war. When he came back to Holland, his mum had died while he was away.

John S:

But one of the funny things that I remember is my brother. I’ve got two brothers. I’ve got a younger brother and a younger sister. My younger brother is called Franklin Rodney and my sister is called Eleanor. It was the Roosevelt’s that were in power at this time and the boat that picked my dad up was a destroyer called Rodney. I’ve got a bit of a connection with you Gary that it made me feel a little bit remote and my dad wanted to migrate to America after the war. The problem was my mum didn’t want to go. She turned on the waterworks and my dad had to tear up the immigration papers to America because he loved the US. Mum had some relatives in Australia, so he wanted to get out of war-torn Europe after the war, so we ended up… He represented some papers to my mother to come to Australia and my mum finally said, “This guy is never going to give up.” She said, yes, but we ended up in Tasmania on a dirt road in a place called Blackmans Bay, which today is not politically correct apparently.

John S:

Anyway, the funny thing was, it wasn’t really funny, my mum, she came from the prosperous part of Holland in a place called Groningen and when they were… she would go down the street to buy meat, she would go into the butcher and they’d be flies around the butchery shop and the meat was wrapped in newspaper. My mum would be tearing her hair out and saying, “What has happened? Why have I done this? Why have I been taken to this remote island called Tasmania?” There’s some of my early memories, but the other memory I had was because my parents didn’t have a lot of money, I started my own business probably at about 10 years of age doing paper rounds. I do joke a little bit tongue in cheek, at age 14 I was financially independent because I was doing a paper round every morning. I was up at sort of quarter to 6:00, 5:30 and on the Saturday night they had a Melbourne Herald delivered and the Saturday Evening Mercury in Tasmania. I’d do that on Saturday night and sell in pubs and round the street.

John S:

Then there was a golf course across the road that I would go. I used to caddy for four hours back then for 60 cents. I soon realized that if I spent four hours looking for golf balls, I could earn $2. I retired from caddying at 14 and became a illegal professional golf ball finder and the… because it was illegal so I had to run around and I was pretty nimble and fast. There was a guy there that used to look out for people like me, but I never got caught. But the thing too is I found that I could sell them for $2 to the pro, but I also found that if I cut out the middleman, the pro, and hid under a bridge by a river where people hit the ball in, I could sell them for $3 and I got a 50% pay increase so I cut out the middle man. That was my survival instinct as a boy growing up in Tasmania. Anyway, that’s just a bit of a backstory.

Warwick F:

That is a fascinating story. I’m just curious, do you ever ask your dad how come my siblings got American political names, the name of a ship? What about John? Do you ever say, what about me? What was the deal with it?

John S:

The interesting thing too, I forgot to tell that little bit, my name’s not John. My name is Jan. Because I don’t know what your parents were called Warwick, but three generations it was Jan. My grandfather was Jan. My dad was Jan. I was Jan. That was the other problem. When I went to school in Australia and I know you get teased a bit in America with Warwick name, as opposed to Warwick. I got teased, because in Australia, a girl’s name is J-A-N.

Warwick F:

Jan.

John S:

Yes. I can remember going to the Royal Hobart Hospital and I had to have an operation on my arm and the nurse would call out at the top of her voice. This was a public ward and she would yell out at the top of the voice Jan Sikkema and it sounded, Jan Sikkema and it sounded like a girl. Everyone would be looking around for a female and I would sheepishly have to get up and say, “That’s me.” I made an executive decision also in grade one to change my name from Jan to John Sikkema. I’m actually not really John Sikkema. I’m actually Jan Sikkema, but in this day and age I would probably get away with it and get sympathy. But in those days they didn’t have foreigners in Tasmania. I was one of the few there so it was very awkward. I had to stand up for myself at a very early age and make-

Warwick F:

Oh my God.

John S:

… some decisions. Anyway.

Warwick F:

Boy, that’s amazing. Obviously coming out from Holland life wasn’t easy. You write in your book that where you lived wasn’t this tremendous house on the cliff or which you ended up years later. It was pretty tough. But right from the beginning you just had this hunger to make something of yourself, to succeed and I know you did a number of different jobs, traveled around Australia. But you ended up landing with insurance and you tried a couple of things and work for, what was the insurance company, National-

John S:

National Mutual, which eventually-

Warwick F:

… National-

John S:

… became ING.

Warwick F:

Right. Then you met your wife, Sue, just before that, but she’s from Tasmania too, but you went over there. Talk about some of those early days, recently married, working in insurance. That was sort of the first step on the road to your career in a sense.

John S:

Well, one of the things I found in Australia to get accepted was to play sport as a Dutch person.

Warwick F:

Right.

John S:

I took up Aussie rules, which we call real football. For your American audience we play on a ground that is twice as big with twice as many players and we have to run twice as long, so don’t feel bad about this. We don’t wear pads at all Gary.

Gary S:

And that makes us half as good then.

John S:

Look-

Warwick F:

I mean-

John S:

… I wouldn’t draw that inference, but you might. But the interesting thing was I did year 11 here, which you do before you go to university. My dad said, “John, if you go to university, you need to give up sport.” Now, that was waving a red rag to a bull, and I’m a bit of an ADD person anyway. It was a pretty easy decision not to go to university so I went into banking and finance and I always had an interest in that. I realized at age 23 that I was going really well in my career in the business world, but I had to go and study accountancy eight years part-time. I did the maths on that and I thought if I went into selling, I might be able to get ahead. I realized, so I quit that and went into a selling role and I doubled my income by learning to cold call in Melbourne, selling insurance out of the phone book, just making cold calls.

Warwick F:

Talk about how you didn’t start at the front of the phone book. You had a different strategy, which I thought was quite creative.

John S:

Well, one of the things I’ve learned is try and work where you don’t have competition. Why would you go where there’s a lot of competition? I thought, I think I’ll go to the Ws in the phone book. I won’t start at the very back, but I’ll go close to the back. I’ll go to the Ws and which would be the phone book pages people would dislike the most, would probably be the Williams’s because there was thousands of them. I went to the W in the phone book and I ended up selling quite a few policies because… and nearly 90% of my clients were in the Ws. I had a filing cabinet for the files and they were nearly all in the Ws. I was shocked when the sales manager read out the sales results and there were a lot of big talkers in this team of 20 salespeople and when he read out the sales results after six months, I was the number two salesperson.

John S:

What really quite surprised me, I just had a plan of working where I didn’t have competition, which I remember I used to work with young new policeman and nurses working in the mental hospitals where a lot of the other financial advisors or insurance salesman didn’t go. But I found after a while, I got bored with that. But I did become the top salesman out of 300 salesmen in Victoria, principally by cold calling and having good working habits and maybe being prepared to do what other people weren’t prepared to do and just have a good habit, a good plan and stick at it. I found I got a bit bored with that and after a while I found I really loved business. I could help people who were in partnerships. I used to call them accountants who are partnership kings. They often themselves were in the company in the family trust, but they left all their small business people in a partnership.

John S:

I would find people paying 20,000 a year tax back then and I could say, “I can show you how you only pay 10,000 tax a year instead of 20 by putting you into a company in a family trust and you can put $10,000 into super.” In those days there was a company called Occidental Life who had a great super policy with a 5% admin fee and they paid 65% of premium as a commission and paid a renewal fee.

Warwick F:

Just for US listeners, superannuation is the equivalent of pension funds here, that kind of thing, right?

John S:

Yep.

Warwick F:

Keep going..

John S:

I was able to double my income again. I set up 35 companies and family trusts in one year because my average policy size went from $500 a year or 1,000, this is a long time ago, to about 5,000 or $6,000 a year.

Warwick F:

You were doing really well, but at some point you decided, I don’t want to work for somebody else. I want to work for myself. I mean, a lot of people wouldn’t do that because I mean, how many small businesses survive? I mean, the odds are probably not high, but yet you’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge. You said, “This is fine, but I want to go out on my own.” Talk about that decision. It was a big decision at that time I’m sure.

John S:

Well, already at age 14, like I’d said before, I tend to think I was financially independent and self-employed running three… I was going fruit picking in the school holidays, paper around, golf course. I realized that probably I’d be better to go and work for myself because when I actually worked in a bank with my first job after school, they said to become a bank manager you have to wait till age 33. I was 17 and the maths on that wasn’t very attractive, 16 years before I got the top salary and I was quite a good worker. I thought this is too long. At 23 I left and went on full commission for National Mutual. At 26 I decided that I always wanted to help people. I was motivated by helping people, but getting paid for it.

John S:

At 26, I thought, well, why don’t I go become a broker so I can give people not just National Mutual policies, I can give them the best policies. My income dropped by 50% for one year while I did that. But I had the satisfaction that I was helping people, but also I was build… They paid a trial commission, which National Mutual didn’t. I was building an asset. I had this in my bones that build a business, build an asset, get a lower income, do a better deal for clients. That ticked all my values boxes and that’s when I… because my income had dropped, that’s why it was attractive to set up the companies in family trusts. I could give them the best superannuation policy, if it was Occidental or Mercantile Mutual was another company that had very good policies.

John S:

The big companies like AMP National Mutual didn’t have as good a policy. By being a broker, I could sleep at night and know Warwick that I gave you the best deal that was available. I knew that I was also building a lifetime business potentially for myself. I enjoyed the freedom because got married young and we moved to Melbourne where we didn’t know anybody. But Sue’s family was in Tassie, my family was in Tassie and I grew up… Sue didn’t grow up in a Christian home and I did and I found after a while us gallivanting, we were living on the mainland, we enjoyed it. But we just lacked that sense of community and I wanted our children to grow up with grandparents and a sense of community. I went to a Christian school. I went to church regularly and that foundational… those values I found that I wanted my children to have.

John S:

I could see in the big cities that that’s a bit of a problem. I could just look ahead. I’ve always had the ability to look ahead and intuitively in my spirit I just thought, so I’ve walked away from the really high income I was earning in Melbourne and decided to move back to Tassie. Sue wasn’t really that happy about that. We had a beautiful 20 acre property. She loved horses and animals, but I felt that our family was going to be better off. I was prepared to pay the price and move back to Tassie and it was quite humbling because I was quite a successful person in Melbourne. In Tassie I had to go back to square one and go backwards and start from scratch. There isn’t the same talent pool in the smaller… It’s like a big country town.

John S:

The problem is I was then back selling smaller policies and doing less business and having to humble myself. But it’s the best decision I ever made because Sue got really involved in our local church because she didn’t grow up as a Christian. My Christian faith was always about here and she had… But once she became a Christian, her faith went to there and she became very evangelistic and wanted to share her faith and convert her family and all her friends. She got a lot of rejection and I must admit my theology, maybe I wasn’t such a good listener Warwick, but I used to hear messages like the rich young ruler or the narrow road and the eye of the needle, the love of money and I used to think, well, I love what money can do. It was a very fine line.

John S:

I thought if I ever get to heaven, I’ll probably just scrape in there. But Sue was only a Christian for a matter of a couple of years and she ran an outreach Sunday school and just had a heart for people who didn’t know Jesus. Then after a while she went through this… there was an American program called EE3, which was about cold calling on evangelism. Sue was very courageous when it came to horse riding and evangelism, but on everything else she was risk averse and she’s a detail person. Whereas I’m the one that was very gung ho and big picture, but when it came to sharing my faith, it was very private and I didn’t share it. This is what sort of set the scene for a lot of things that happened later in life that I look back on now and they make sense, but at the time I just thought, well, I don’t know. I’ve had some teaching on predestination and people will have the opportunity to go to church, if they do, or they don’t, I don’t know where my theology was at that time. But I was a fairly private in everything Warwick.

John S:

It wasn’t like I was… I’m really an introvert. I’m an extrovert when it comes to achieving what I feel I want. If there’s a goal I want to achieve, I’ll role play and do what it takes. But by nature, I’m quite a loner and I enjoy my own company.

Warwick F:

No, I get it. I know the turning point in your life was a obviously car accident and then a moment in church with this bikey guy, John Smith. Before we get there because it’s fascinating beats to the story, you founded this company Garrisons. Now, before that sort of car crash thing, that was already growing, wasn’t it, Garrisons?

John S:

Yeah.

Warwick F:

I mean, you were building up a business. Talk about sort of the pre almost car crash. Where were you in business? I mean, you were really building something impressive.

John S:

Well, what happened when I moved back to Tassie as a independent broker on being able to do insurance and super, I wanted to help people more and give them access to property investment and share investments. When the financial planning industry was born in Australia, I again moved from being the broker into financial planning. Most of the information was coming out of the US. There was a guy in Sydney called Robert Morrison, who was the pioneer of the financial planning industry in Australia. I decided that I would move out of insurance and super broking and go into financial planning. Again, my income halved in the first couple of years, because you didn’t get paid the big commissions that you got on selling insurance and super. I decided also, because I hadn’t bothered to go and do the accountancy study, to do financial planning you really needed to be quite good technically.

John S:

One of the things I’ve always done is improvise, so I thought, well, how do I move into this industry without me going to university and studying accountancy? I decided to find an accountant. I advertised to find an accountant who could work alongside me to give my business the technical credibility, and I would become the front end and the people person to get the new clients, but this person would do all the technical report writing and the compliance and whatever. This worked really quite well. But then after a while, I found too that I’m too fast paced to do financial planning because you’re dealing with older people and they’ve got money on term deposit and they sort of scratch their head and they think, “Oh, well, I’m not sure of the market’s right now so I’ll flip it over again for another six months.”

John S:

I was used to selling insurance where literally I could go into a lounge room and we used to talk about backing the hearse scene, so I could sit down with you and your wife, Warwick and sort of say, well, to your wife, “Well, what happens if Warwick didn’t come home from work tomorrow? What would happen to you?” I’d ask that question. You could pretty well walk out-

Warwick F:

Right.

John S:

… with a sale and get paid. Financial planning, I might come and see you and you might have money to invest, but there’s no urgency. I thought this is-

Warwick F:

Right.

John S:

… driving me crazy. I thought, “I think I’m better off to probably get other people to do the financial planning and I’ll get the new clients in.” I decided to start my own financial planning and employ financial planners, but because I wasn’t big enough and didn’t have capital, I couldn’t grow it. A guy across town whose parents owned a whole lot of supermarkets, he got his own license. Back in those days you could get a license from the regulator like buying a loaf of bread. He had a license and it was interesting. He asked me to join him, plus he had another guy who was a property trust guy, and the other guy got 25% equity. I got 25 transferring my clients and this guy owned 50. I went in there as the third person, but I found very quickly that I was the one that was building the business. I’d like growing things, so I started an office in Launceston and Burnie. I started growing the business and I found we didn’t share the same values.

John S:

I had a long-term view about client relationships and I was prepared to lose money in the short term to build a long-term business. The guy who owned the shares, the 50%, well, he was used to looking at the till each month and seeing if we made a profit or a loss, and he wanted to make decisions on that basis. I found we weren’t on the same… we didn’t have the same vision for the business and the other guy was just wanting to do property trusts. I orchestrated quite a painful experience in buying, first of all, out the 50% shareholder and we had to go into debt to do that on the process of… and then the other guy, I bought them both out and I had a second mortgage on my house, I had credit card debt. But I then was able to get people to join me who shared my values.

John S:

That’s when the business took off. But to finance it, I sold 49% of the business to Mercantile Mutual to get rid of some personal debt and corporate debt and so we could grow the business and that’s what happened. We then saw the business take off. But one of the problems we had was I’d become a workaholic at that point and was working 80 hours a week. I had all the trappings of success. I built a beautiful architect home overlooking a beach in the golf course out of convict bricks. I had a beach house at Orford an hour from Hobart on the beach. I had the BM and I had four kids at private school and I was running and jogging every couple of days. Life looked pretty cool on the outside. I’m a CEO, the largest shareholder, four kids all at private school. I’m churchgoing. I looked really good, but cracks started appearing. The wheels started falling off. This is where I had a massive wake up call because I used to go to Launceston, which was a couple of hours drive every Friday.

Warwick F:

Just so that US audiences understand, Tasmania is not that big a place. You’ve got Hobart in the Southeast, Launceston in the north. That’s sort of like one end of the state to the other is a couple hours or something like that.

John S:

It’s like a dream. You picture British Columbia or something. It’s like that sort of… I used to go there every Friday. I’d be up at, leave home at 6:00 and I would be there by 8:30. I don’t know. If you do the same drive continually, you go into a bit of a trance and your mind wanders and you think about everything else. Your car is almost in auto drive. It’s like the cars that we’re making now, driverless car. You basically are driving it, but you’re… You’d sometimes think, “I don’t remember driving through this town because you just… One Friday when I drove up there, from one week to the next they’d actually moved the road, but I didn’t know. I came around and saw the normal road signs and drove around the corner the same as I would normally and I’m heading straight for a truck and my life flashed in front of me and I thought, “My life’s over, I’m dead.”

John S:

I shut my eyes. I swung the steering wheel and bang, I hit the side of the truck and I’m up the road 50 meters and I’m thinking, “How come I’m not dead? I must have some guardian angels looking after me because I thought my life was over.” I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t died. I got out and looked at the car and there was scratches all along the side, but it could still limp along. I remember thinking, “This is symptomatic of my life. My life’s out of control. I’m just so obsessed with success and building this business.” I thought I realized I have to change and it made me really reflect on what is my purpose in life and what am I doing? It made me dig deep.

John S:

Not only did I have that car crash, but it was around that time that I mean, I’d also having bad migraine headaches. I used to come home two nights a week and literally take some heavy medication and go to bed with a wet face washer and some ice blocks and wouldn’t surface till the morning in the dark room, couldn’t talk, couldn’t eat with the family, sometimes physically ill. I’d also created quite a bit of debt to own the most shares in the company, buying out these other shareholders, having a beautiful home and all the trappings of success. I had financial health. Then on top of that, my wife said to me one day, “John, you’re not the fun guy I married, you’re a workaholic and we get the leftovers and when you are home, you’re often lying on the couch or in bed with migraines. I can’t cope with this. I didn’t sign up for this. Unless you change, I want out.”

John S:

I was shocked by that because in my mind I was working hard for my family. Probably worse than the health or the debt or the relational was I actually thought I don’t like who I’ve become. I don’t like who I am. Look what’s happened to me. It was a really a soul searching period that I started thinking, how did I get to this? This is not what I set out to do. It was quite a traumatic… I started really searching and wondering. I mean, I must admit I was a bit of a five minutes a day Bible reader and a five minute a day prayer person. I was very efficient. I was able to work a lot of the time and problem is with the family too, I’d take them on a family holiday each year, but it was like catching up, but short changing them as well. It was really difficult.

John S:

Then one day I heard a talk that changed my life, because we used to go to church regularly, but I always felt a bit of a misfit in church. I wasn’t a muso, I wasn’t a Sunday school teacher. I wasn’t the youth leader, the extrovert. But anyway, I believed in God and I had quite strong faith. But this day I went to church and there was a bikey, Harley-Davidson bikey who set up God Squad, not only in Australia, but overseas as well, called John Smith.

John S:

He got up in the pulpit and often you snooze through a few sermons here and there and he really caught my attention because he said, “If I could find 100 business men to give me a million dollars each week, It could change this nation. That was when we had the Lionel Murphy divorce laws going through where you could have no fault divorce and there was the whole social fabric of what we’d grown up with on the value of marriage was being challenged. He was really vocal about that and when he said that my heart lept. I thought, “That’s me. I’m one of the 100.” I temporarily forgot about the desperately unhappy wife. I forgot about all my debt that I’d accumulated to own all these things. I forgot about my migraines.

John S:

You know what happened, I remembered that when I was 14 and I used to look for golf balls, do my paper round between 6:00 and 7:00, 7:30 I was on the golf course. I remember being by a swamp on the ninth hole and I used to have regular spots so I could find these 20 golf balls in four hours. I remember having a conversation in my head that I’d never had before in my life saying, “Why am I so blessed? Why am I literally able to buy anything because I’ve always got money? Why do I live idyllically by the beach? Why have I got great parents? Why did I had been able to go to a Christian school? It’s not fair. Look at all the people in the world that I read about and see that haven’t got what I’ve got. I know what I’m going to do.” When I turn age 50, I’m going to spend the rest of my life helping others. What I’m going to do between now then is make as much money as I can. Obviously I’ll get married, have children, have a mortgage pay off, but that’s what I’m going to do.”

John S:

I had this conversation in my head and actually, when I thought about it, I thought, “How come I’m having this conversation in my head?” I went to a very conservative church. I knew about God and Jesus. I didn’t really understand the Holy Spirit. I had a simple faith and I probably didn’t listen in church enough Warwick. I thought, “If I tell anybody what I’ve just experienced, they’d think I’m going mad.” You know what I did, I didn’t tell one person that I had that conversation in my head because I thought if I told anyone, they would say, “You’ve got to go and see a psychologist. John…”

Warwick F:

This conversation when you were 14, you mean? When you were-

John S:

Yeah.

Warwick F:

Wow.

John S:

Now when you move the clock back, 26 years later I’m 40 and I’m sitting in the church, that conversation, which I hadn’t thought about since 14 came back to me when he said, “Now I understand the Holy Spirit, I understand how God works.” I realized that God had been put in my spirit. I’d had a holy spirit time here, a divine moment at 14. Then at 40 a dream had been reignited by that John Smith moment that had been, I feel God had used him to deposit that in my spirit to rekindle a dream and a purpose that God had for my life. You wouldn’t believe it if probably 10 minutes later in that same church service I heard virtually in an audible voice saying, “John, I did not create you for you to be successful. I created you to help others succeed and if you will do that, you will be truly successful.” Literally sitting in church there I think, “You’ve got it all back to front. You idiot.”

John S:

And the lights came on. I thought, “Ah, I’ve been trying so hard so I could be really really successful so one day I can be generous. I need to be generous along the way and I can help people now.” Then I got what I knew was a quickening. I got a holy spirit download of all the things I had to change in my life. I’ve got it and I won’t go through them now Warwick, they’re in my book, chapter six. But the first one was stop trying to change my wife to suit my success and help her be who God created her to be, make myself available in the community and don’t use headaches or debt or business as an excuse not to help the school that my children are going to or the church.

John S:

I’d been asked to go on the school board of my children’s Christian school. I’d been asked to become an elder at the church. I had said no to both of those. Now, I’m saying stop being logical and do. If God calls you to do that, you say yes. One of the other things I wrote down was stop reading the Bible as a historical book of 2000 years ago written and read it as God’s business plan to man. I understood business plans really well. They were powerful. My life was run by a business plan with vision, mission, values, action plans, KPIs and I loved it. I used that, the whole business. I thought, “Well, that’s really, God actually wrote one not just for one person, He wrote that for everybody on the planet. If they would bother to read it as a plan on how to live your life, manage your finances. You go to Ecclesiastes, about one, two, three, diversify your investments, send them overseas. You don’t know where your crop… take risks. You look at the Bible and about marriage, everything in there about how to do business, marriage, make God your first love and give your first fruits, don’t give me the leftovers and test me and your barns will overflow. All these things I discovered.

John S:

After those, I wrote down these 13 things and start loving myself. I realized I didn’t love myself. I’d allowed Satan to snatch, steal, destroy and I basically had… I was driven too much by fear. I’d stopped taking risks. I had to go back and I’d like C.S. Lewis about all these little… The devil is so cunning sending out all these little devils. I didn’t realize the spiritual battle that I was in at work, or when I was away, so tended to be the holy huddle Bible study church, I felt. But six days a week, you’re out there in the jungle on your own and I’ve realized that we need to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit. We need to be in the word of God every day. We need to be mixing with others. That happened. But then you had an altar call, this bikey and I’m in a church of 300 people and I’m a well-known person. I’m a CEO of a company. I thought, “I still got pride, no way am I going up to the front to say my life is a mess here.”

John S:

You know what I did, I quietly sneak out the back and raced home Warwick and went into my study, got a sheet of paper, shut the door and I wrote down… I thought before I forget this download, I’ve got to write them all down.

Warwick F:

I mean, that’s really… I just want to read a couple of things you have in your book because that’s… and obviously we’ll get here to what you’re doing now. But what that bikey said, it changed your life. I mean, what you write in your book, you said-

Gary S:

Can I jump in for a second?

Warwick F:

Please, go ahead.

Gary S:

On behalf of all the Americans and you guys can define, I think I know what it is-

Warwick F:

Sure.

Gary S:

… but what’s a bikey.

Warwick F:

Go ahead.

John S:

A Harley-Davidson is. I think they originate in the US.

Gary S:

Right.

John S:

If you ride that in Australia, you’re called a bikey.

Gary S:

Okay. We call them bikers here in the States.

Warwick F:

Yeah.

Gary S:

Got it.

Warwick F:

The leather jacket, there’s a certain look.

Gary S:

Right.

Warwick F:

Exactly. Well pointed out. One of the things this guy said, John Smith, he said, “Instead of disparaging wealth and making me feel guilty.” This is you, John, commenting. Instead of disparaging wealth and making me feel guilty because I had some money, he challenged people like me to use that affluence, not solely for our own comfort, but to help others. He explained that each of us had been uniquely wired and created for a purpose, for a greater purpose than just aiming to live a comfortable life. You say, “I was put on this earth to accomplish something for a higher purpose, yet I was living as if I was the only one that mattered.” Then you say this, “Here’s part of his message that really hit a raw nerve. If you want God to bless you, that will only happen when you put him first in your life.” You really, your whole life changed. You say it was a change or die moment. You wrote those 13 principles, one of which is stop chasing success and pursue purpose instead. I mean, that changed your whole life.

John S:

Oh, yeah. It was a defining moment. One of the things that in Australia there’s a whole movement called about life balance. I actually tried life balance and I don’t believe in life balance. I actually believe when you really define life balance, it’s basically saying I’m going to be selfish because to have a balanced life, you don’t want to do things that will unbalance it. But if you pursue… If you look at Paul in the Bible, did he have life balance? Because he was shipwrecked, he was stoned, he was beaten up, but he pursued his calling. I think we need to realize that to pursue our calling might come at a cost and it might not give us life balance. I think Western Christianity has fallen for the same issue that the secular world… the secular world is life balance means you just have a nice life and everything is nice around you and you’re generous, but only to a point where it doesn’t cost you. You’re not going to cross the road and help the good Samaritan if it unbalances your life or means you can’t eat or if you haven’t got a home or you’re going to… I believe that life balance is something the devil would like us to do.

Warwick F:

What’s amazing about that is you work just as hard just in some areas in the business, but also in some non-profits in part Jossy Chacko and what you’re doing with Halftime Australia and your consulting purpose based business. You’re working all these hours, but yet your marriage and your relationship with your kids got better, because what you write is when you were there with them, you were present, you were alive, you were more alive than you’d ever been. I don’t know if it was… it wasn’t necessarily more work-life balance, but you were just more fully alive, more fully who God intended you to be and everything improved, right?

John S:

Yeah. Well, what happened was I got… after I wrote down those 13 things and put them in the drawer and shut, I didn’t tell Sue either, because I’d been a bit of a sweet nothing man. I’d make promises and not deliver. I thought it’s no use her telling me, after the service, after I put all that away, I said, “Great service. It really spoke to me.” I just gave her an overview, but I didn’t tell specifically, number one on the list is I’m going to… I just started role-playing and behaving differently. But God put me through a couple of tests then and a mate of mine who was on the school board, the school was losing a million a year and he said, “John, can you come and help the school and become the treasurer?”

John S:

The old me would have said, “No way.” Now, after my defining moment, I decided to put Jesus in the front seat of the car, rather than beside me or out in the back seat. I used to drive the car and make decisions and ask God to ratify them. I said I’ve got to get in the backseat. When I was asked to be on the school board, now I’m praying about it and saying, “God, if this is what you want me to do, that it’s actually what I’ll do.” I felt at peace. “Yes, this is what I want you…” I used to hate school. I love sports and I love business, but school was not a place I really enjoyed. God was taking me back and testing me. I went on the school board and they were losing a million a year in today’s dollars, but I realized they’d lost their vision and they had the wrong principal and the wrong bursar.

John S:

I used my business skills to bring in an external consultant who did personality profiling and assessment. I sat down with the bursar and said, “Mate, you’re so good at… you’re entrepreneurial. You should be in a business, not a bean counter. We need an ex bank manager or someone here looking after the finances of the school.” He then resigned, no redundancy and started a business and he’s still in it today, 25 years later. The principal, after going through that realized he was a primary school principal rather than looking after three or four campuses. He resigned as well and the school and never looked back. The thing I had to do is I realized that our fees were too low. We had top quartile education, bottom quartile fees.

John S:

We did analysis for all the schools in Australia and I went to an AGM and said, “We’ve got to lift the fees by 50% from January 1.” Because all the previous treasurers had been politically correct and prayerful, but didn’t have the guts to tell the truth. I said, “I could put up the fees by 15% every year for three or four years or do it one go in 50.” I only had to put them up by 40, but I realized by doing it 50, I could cream money from the Gary’s and the Warwick’s and give it to the poor and I set up a Robinhood fund and had a hundred thousand dollars in it and poor people could show me their tax return. I realized I could use my business skills in the community and I got great satisfaction from that.

John S:

Well, I did that for five years. Then the local church had a charismatic split, second one, 100 people left and went to another church and my mate, who was on the school board said, “John, can you come and help us find another pastor so we can sack the pastor.” I said, “Really?” And I said, “Well, you’ve got a job description?” “No.” “You’ve got a plan for the church.” “No.” I said, “Well, I’ll only find a pastor and you’ll have another split because he’ll bring…”Oh, can you come and help the elders and the deacons? Talk to them about…” Anyway, here I find myself with the pillars of the church here, the business guy, and they said, “Could you find a…” I said, “No, I’m not going to help you find a pastor.” It must’ve been the Holy Spirit, I said, “I’ll tell you what I can do. What about meeting two nights a week for three months, every Monday and Wednesday night, 7:30 to 9:30. We’ll go through scripture and we’ll work out why we exist, then we’ll develop a plan. Then we’ll go and hire a pastor to implement it.” “Oh yep. Okay.” “Either that or I don’t.” They agreed.

John S:

I didn’t know my Bible very well and I thought I’m with all these great teachers and pastors. I had a friend of mine who I knew was very versed in the word of God and was involved in planning a church, so I said, “What can I do with these people? How am I going to take them through scripture? It’s the blind leading…” He said, “John, read this Bible verse and ask these five questions and put them into small groups and then get them to report back and you just document it and end up with a plan.” It’s exactly what I did. I faked it. Someone in America who’s good at that, I faked it and he might have Dutch blood as well. I don’t know. But anyway, so I put a plan together after three months, called a congregational meeting one Sunday afternoon. We did a creche. We got that plan approved and I called one pastor and then two and three. The numbers were 300. They’d gone to about 180 when I got involved. They made me chairman of elders and we grew the church in a country town from two to 600 in five years. I realized that God was equipping me in business to be able to work back and add value in other areas.

Warwick F:

Link that with what you’re doing now, because these are almost like trial balloons, or I think you write about it somewhere about stepping stones. It’s like, “Boy, I can use my business skills to really help nonprofits and organizations whose missions I care about.” But from there you still had a successful business. I think you sold that. I think you mentioned at one point …

John S:

That’s the crazy bit Warwick that I cut my hours back from 80 to 50 and spent 10 hours more at home and 20 hours in the community. That resurrected my marriage relationship. Sue saw me involved in the church and the school. She loved that. Amazingly, because I was a controlling leader, I have to admit and I can do it better than anyone else. I was competitive and whatever. When I went from 80 hours to 50, I had to start empowering people because I had to spend 30 hours away from the business. Then I went to an empowering leadership style, God gave me revelation on some ideas and I started taking risks. The business, I set up a funds management company, which I’d never done before. I’d started franchising our offices and expanding to all of Australia rather than just being in Tas.

John S:

The business grew by 40% percent per annum over the next 10 years. I was bankrupt on paper at 40. At 49, two months into my 50th year, I got an offer from Challenger, the listed company and we sold out, which allowed me two months into my 50th year the dream that God had put on my heart at 14. I was able to then spend the rest of my life helping others. I went to part-time CEO and met a guy on the plane who was doing amazing work in North India who had a vision to plant 100,000 churches. I had got our denomination, which normally didn’t plant churches to set up an organization called Vision 100 to plant 100 churches in Tassie. We got that off the ground, but we had planted one church and I’m thinking I’m pretty good.

John S:

I’m on a plane to a Hawaii to a conference and I sit next to this guy and I say, “What are you doing?” He says, “I’m a church planter.” He’s 19 years younger. I said, “Well, how many churches you planted?” I’m a numbers person. He said, “200.” I went, “Ah.” We’d planned on and I was… God doing another number on me. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I didn’t believe what he was telling me. I thought, “Why is God doing all this in North India and not in Australia.” Anyway, I went with him on a three-week trip to North India and I slept here and he slept there. We spent three weeks together and I went all through North India where less than 1% of the population are Christian, the 60% are Hindu, 20% Muslim.

John S:

I was just blown away by everything he told me was true that God was doing an amazing work in North India and he asked me to come and chair his board. I moved back to Tassie. 10 years before that Sue was talking divorce and we had our forever house. I said, “Darling I think I need to help this guy do this 100,000 church planting.” And I said, “Maybe I can get a flat in Port Melbourne and keep our house here.” She said, “No no, that won’t be good for our marriage. Let’s sell our dream home. Let’s sell our waterfront holiday home. We’ll move to Melbourne, not to Port Melbourne though. We’ll move to acreage.” We sold up everything and moved to Melbourne near where Jossy lived. I spent half my time helping him with setting up the infrastructure to do these 100,000 churches and help in Asia and then help him globally set up and spend the other half of my time coaching and mentoring business people to find their purpose. That’s all-

Warwick F:

As well as Halftime Australia. I mean, so you’re still-

Gary S:

Let me jump in.

Warwick F:

Please, go ahead.

Gary S:

I just want to jump in. I love stories, John. You tell fabulous stories. I could listen to you tell stories more than I can watch Netflix. But one thing as I hear your stories, there’s a quote that you have in your book that I think summarizes every story you’ve just told and that’s a quote from Gandhi who said this, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others.” How has that thread been woven through your life and the stories you’ve shared so far with our listeners?

John S:

I really liked the Paul quote that daily, you’ve got to take up your cross and follow him. I think it’s a matter of dying to self and really being open to what God’s plan. Once in my forties, I sat down and crafted a mission statement with the help of a coach and I got real clarity about what… If I’m 90 lying back on my death bed, what would I… I can’t change the script from nought till 40, but I can change the script from 40 to 80 or 90 or whatever it is. Really, to hear well done good faithful servant, before we were born, God created good works in advance for us to do in Ephesians 2:10. One of the revelations God gave me, in the new living translation it says we are God’s masterpiece.

John S:

The first problem we’ve got the devil convinces us that we are not God’s masterpiece, which means we can’t then really step into our calling and do what God planned before us to do. I find that so many Christians will sit in a church pew, but if you ask them, are you clear on your calling? Most people are not, even though they’ve been in the church university for 30 or 40 years, sadly. They’ve got a generic concept of what their calling is. Well, it’s be a good father, a good husband, a good Christian, keep the 10 commandments, tithe, go to church, love my neighbor and I serve in this here. But we’ve created a very comfortable Western Christianity which is very riskless and we can quote lots of Bible verses, but we won’t take steps of faith. My passion is really, my change was I flipped and I had to let control of my own life.

John S:

I realized when I was 23 when I gave my life to Jesus, that I only surrendered half my life. I said, “I’ll keep this half for myself, my business.” Because I’m pretty good. I’ve proven I can keep goals. I can do that better than most of my peers, so just bless me doing that Lord and I will use that for your purpose. But God showed me 20 years of me going that way, I got my life in a mess and I had to surrender 100% of my life at 40. When John Smith spoke and I had that defining moment, I had to let go of my business skills. I had to become childlike in my faith and I then every day when I have problems, I would journal and say, “God, thank you for…” I used to keep a scorecard every month of goals I keep. I crossed out the word goals and said blessings. If I was dead, the only… being alive, the only reason I was able to keep those goals is because God blessed me and gave me favor.

John S:

The problems that I used to think I had, I now call them prayer points and I’ll write them down and I just keep writing them down. Every night I hand them over. My headaches miraculously were cured a month or two after I sold up everything and God knew I was following him, He gave me a miraculous cure of my headaches and he blessed my business when I cut my hours back from 30 and committed to surrender, not just 50. Because I used to make business decisions and ask God to ratify them. To answer your question, Gary, I would say it’s moving from 50% surrender to 100% surrender and putting Jesus in control of my life.

John S:

But daily, I have to fight my natural tendency to take control again. That’s my human nature. Because I love competition, I love goals, I love challenge. The danger is, like Paul, that’s why Paul says that, daily we got to surrender and go back to our first love in the letter to the seven churches. In the Western world, we’ve created comfort Christianity and we’ve made things very much around suiting our intellectual and our creature comforts. I love creature comforts and that hasn’t changed. But anyway, if that answers your question.

Gary S:

Indeed.

Warwick F:

Wow. I mean, that is so powerful, John. I mean, you’re a driven competitive person. It’s almost like you had a road to Damascus moment, I guess, within a short period of time, the car crash and that talk by John Smith in your church. How would you describe the difference between the old John Sikkema and the one that you are now? What’s the biggest difference between those two John Sikkemas would you say?

John S:

I actually think the first John Sikkema was always looking for a return on investment. I don’t know if it’s my Dutch background. I think I had selective generosity. I think one of the things that God has shown me is we can actually be 24/7 generous with our time and our skill. Money is the least component of that. Most of us can write out a check to buy time. If we want to go to a footy game rather than visit someone in hospital or something, if we can give some money to someone else to go and do it, we’re masters of contracting out things we don’t want to do. I think we’ve done that with our Christian faith as well. I really feel we’ve really got to be prepared to be generous 24/7. On of the lessons I had to learn and I learned that from my Indian friend, we’ve got to do the sowing and leave the reaping to God.

John S:

I was brought up more… if I invest this amount of time here, I need to get a return here. But I think biblically, what we should be doing is we should sow here and be generous and expect nothing back. But amazingly, somewhere else, God will bless us way beyond what we did with that and that’s where the Malachi thing comes into it about where barns will be overflowing. Give me your first fruits and test me. But we don’t quite trust God enough to give more. I think Corinthians 2 chapter eight about generosity, giving when you can’t afford to give, taking steps of faith. I just come across Christians who quote Bible verses ad nauseum, but really I can see from their life, they demonstrate very little faith.

John S:

They want all the ducks lined up and they’re worried about what man will say. What we really need to do is not have all the ducks lined up and take a step of faith and allow Jesus to join us and help us. It’s like saying, I’ll give you the words, if you get into court or you get persecuted, don’t worry about what you’re going to say, I’ll give you the words. God works, not only I’ll give you the words, but I’ll give you the resources. If you have a big vision to do something for God, you haven’t got the resources, don’t worry about it. Just go and do… step towards it and allow God to provide the provision. We’ve got to sow, don’t expect a return where we sow, but we’ve got to keep sowing generously and leave the reaping to God and just be grateful.

John S:

Use what he puts in our hand. Don’t worry about quoting too many Bible verses. I think be more about action and not so much about the words, because I think we’ve become very clever in our Christian world and I think we’ve got to unlearn a lot of what we have grown up with. I do feel the founding fathers like Wesley or Calvin or Luther, if they saw what we were doing under the brands of churches and they would be horrified and they would say, “You’re heresy what you’re doing.” I think we’ve got to forget about labels and denominational. We just got to get back to the word of God and not allow any human interferences or agreements to… We made it too complex and we’re overthinking. We overthink everything today. We not only overthink all our decision making, but as Christians, we overthink and we will talk about prayer, right, and we’ll talk about Bible reading and we’ll talk about conferences and whatever. It’s really quite simple. Just got to take little simple steps. You can take them at work.

John S:

One of my big things that are motivated about at the moment, and I’m putting a book together and I’m not a good writer so I got to get a lot of help, but is to use your business to turbocharge your life purpose. The problem I find today is that people, this is where their life purpose is, but most people don’t even know what it is. We need to spend time with God to find what is my life purpose and then what we actually need to do is narrow the gap. Because my business is here and my life purpose here, the gap between those two is tension and pressure. If you can bring your business in alignment like a bikey with a slip stream in alignment, you can turbocharge your life purpose.

John S:

I think we really got to get clear about what my calling is and my business at 90 on your death bed, you’re not going to say Warwick, “I wish I’d built that $2 billion business.” What you’re going to be… and that’s what your book is about and people should read it. It’s a great message. What you’re about is we want to use our business and our influence and our networks and the people we know to fulfill the great commission, to become workers for the harvest. God convicted me that we as business people are the apostolic people, not just leaders in our business, but we need to be apostolic about… We are in the marketplace. Jesus did most of his stuff in the marketplace, but we’re living all the great commission staff and the workers for the harvest, we somehow have got that quarantined into paid church workers and we are over here making money we give to them. They can’t do it.

John S:

In Australia we’ve had seven decades of declining church membership. Business people need to be in the marketplace and be active in the great commission. We’ve got to get involved in becoming workers for the harvest. We’ve got to own that. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few, pray to the Lord of the harvest, so pray Warwick, how God can use you in the harvest. Gary, pray how God can use you in the harvest. Keep a KPI. How many people are you sharing your faith with and not getting to church. Church is where two or three will gather. We’ve got involved in trying to build the church. Jesus said, “I’ll build the church.” I think we need to be involved in kingdom, building kingdom companies, be involved in the kingdom, be involved in sharing our faith in the marketplace.

John S:

God’s shown me and it’s a talk for another time, but Sue and I started a group in our house just getting business people to come here, who wouldn’t go to church. 90% of people I’ve asked them to come to church, say no. If I invite them to come for dinner at home, 90% say yes. We just got them in our home and started sharing some of the Halftime principles, got a home theater, we put on a meal once a fortnight, bring in some food, eight o’clock we go down to the home theater. I’d talk a bit about Halftime, about leaving a legacy, making your life count, being generous. Then I’ve been using some of the videos like Alpha or other things and we’ve actually, after one year we saw six people give their life to Jesus and we were able to baptize them down the beach recently. My passion is business people to get involved in the great commission, not just passive spectators.

Warwick F:

Wow. Well, thank you so much, John. As we kind of begin to close, what’s sort of amazing to me is you look at the, maybe before the accident and John Smith moment, you were very competitive, driven by success. I think as you write. It wasn’t just about money, more than money, it was the thrill of the chase, the thrill of the competition that was driving you. You’re still driven, but yet I sense that you are more… you’re not working any less. You’re not any less driven than you were. I don’t know that you’re working any less hours, but you’re more fulfilled. You have a happier marriage, your kids, a stronger relationship than you’ve ever been because your life is in service of a higher purpose. It’s in service of your fundamental beliefs and values. Obviously we share a common Christian faith. There may be others who do, maybe others have different values or different concept of a higher purpose.

Warwick F:

When you link your life, your business, everything you do to a higher purpose, then that gives you more joy and fulfillment. We in Crucible Leadership talk about a life of significance, very similar to what you do, a life on purpose dedicated to serving others. Well, that’s what you do, living a life of significance, living in line of your values and in your case and my case, Christian faith, you have a level of joy and fulfillment that every day you wake up excited, every night if you’re having trouble going to sleep, it’s because you’re so excited about what God’s doing in your life. It’s not because of the old reasons. Does that make sense? I mean, is that sort of one way of summarizing where you are today?

John S:

I have got as much energy as I had at 40. I’m passionate. I’m just eternally… I’m so grateful that I was given a second chance Warwick. I could have lost it all. I had bad health, I could have been bankrupt, I could have lost my marriage, I could have lost my kids. I could have lost everything. I’m just so grateful that I didn’t.

Warwick F:

It was in a sense like that road to-

John S:

Pretty close.

Warwick F:

… Damascus moment or-

John S:

I felt I was at close to the edge of losing it all and it made me just really-

Warwick F:

There was one path that went down to misery and destruction and there was another path that went to redemption, joy and significance and you picked the road that led to joy, significance, stronger marriage, stronger relationships, stronger faith. It sounds like you picked the right road.

Gary S:

That is a great time gentlemen. I just heard the captain turn on the fasten seatbelt sign because it’s getting time to land the plane. In this particular case, the plane of course is a Qantas jet.

Warwick F:

Of course.

John S:

Oh, great…

Gary S:

I would be remiss, John. I would be remiss if I did not make good on my promise at the outset when I said that if you’re a CEO and would like to engage John as an executive business mentor and coach, and then I said, keep listening and you’ll find out how. How can our listeners find out more about you John and about Halftime Australia?

John S:

If you just Google halftimeaustralia.org.au, there are contact detail’s on there. Halftime Australia, it’s just halftime.org.au is the website and you can contact me through that.

Gary S:

Excellent. Warwick, final question?

Warwick F:

No. Just thank you so much for your example of really being dedicated to faith to God and just really following the calling in your heart that you were given at age 14. I mean, it’s amazing. God put that thought in you and maybe the embers kind of died down a little over the years, but never fully went out. That fateful moment of the car crash and that talk by the bikey guy, John Smith, that ember was fanned into flame and your purpose from then just went through the roof. It’s just a great example of somebody who can be successful and joyful. Success and significance is not either-or. You have accomplished both. You have modeled for other business leaders that you can have it all in the sense of it’s okay to be successful in business, but you can have joy and satisfaction and significance too. You’re really a great example of what’s possible.

John S:

One little thing is I never thought that Sue and I could become a team. We’re so different, but we are an amazing team. It’s just got better and better. I couldn’t believe it because I’m very fast paced, I change gears, I’m an ideas going everywhere, but it’s amazing how we got onto a vision that we both bought into, a purpose and we both know the roles where we fit and we help each other. We’ve become a real team like I did within the business, I found a really good business partner and I’m blown away. I never thought that was possible. Anyone who’s listening, don’t believe that you and your wife can’t become amazing team, even though you are not now. That can happen, but it will take a lot of work, but it’s possible using personality profiling, dying to self, working with your strengths, just looking at and finding out what each of your visions are and seeing the bridge you can build between them.

John S:

It’s amazing. I could not believe it. I would have rated us as a team at five out of 10, and we’re that close to 10 now, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took a little bit at a time. But anyway, so give hope, because for a lot of guys, that’s a huge problem. They think they can never team with their spouse. But it is possible, but you got to use… The view I took to Sue is I’ve got to coach and mentor her like she’s the most valuable, highest paid employee in my company. How do I help her succeed in that role?

Gary S:

That sound you heard listeners is the wheels on the ground. The plane has landed. I’ve been in the communications business long enough to know when the last word is spoken and when the last word is spoken about shared vision made reality, both personally and professionally for Crucible Leadership and Beyond The Crucible, that’s the place to land. I’ve also been in the communications business long enough though to know there are probably people who have been listening, who have heard as John was telling some of his stories and Warwick made mention of it too, these 13 things that John wrote down when he had an epiphany in his life and I’m going to leave you listeners with what those 13 things are. I’m going to preface my reading of John’s 13 things by saying something that Warwick alluded to a little bit ago, John is clearly passionately a Christian, Warwick, clearly passionately a Christian. I am passionately a Christian. Maybe it’s not as clear because I don’t talk on the show all that often, all that much.

Gary S:

But even if you’re not a Christian, the principles that John laid out in his 13 things to change, you can find application for your life. You’ll see some things in here that will talk about Bible and talk about Jesus, while we believe that is the best way to carry these things out, it’s not the only way. As Warwick talks about, there are anchors for your soul, anchors for your way of life that are rooted in something more eternal that you can find. Keep that in mind as I read these 13 things to change that John wrote down.

Gary S:

Number one, make myself available for community work. Number two, stop making decisions based on what I wanted, but make decisions in keeping with helping others succeed, which was his new purpose. Number three, begin to read the Bible personally like it was written just for him. Number four, make it a priority to spend time with my wife and children and friends. Number five, apply Christian principles to my business. Number six, be prepared to make a fool of myself for what I know to be right. That one’s good. I’m going to say it again. Number six, be prepared to make a fool of myself for what I know to be right.

Gary S:

Number seven, stop chasing success and pursue purpose instead. The crux of Crucible Leadership. Number eight, dream more and follow those dreams. Number nine, be kind to myself. Number 10, take more risks. Number 11, be honest about my weaknesses, and I love the second half of this. Part B of this, be honest about my weaknesses, part A and part B, and let other people cover those. Number 12, accept pain and make hard decisions. What we talk about on Beyond The Crucible all the time, from that pain and the decisions you make after that pain can spring forth your passion, your vision for your future. The last, number 13, the baker’s dozen as we call it here in the States. I don’t know if they call it there in Australia. Number 13, don’t be competitive just for the sake of winning.

Gary S:

13 ways to go about changing your life that can lead you down a road to a better way of life, a life on purpose for purpose. Until we are together, next time listener. Thank you for spending time with us on this episode of Beyond The Crucible. Warwick and I have a little favor to ask you. If you’ve enjoyed this conversation, if you’ve enjoyed previous conversations and have not yet clicked subscribe, we ask you to click subscribe on the podcast app on which you’re listening, share this episode with your friends and family so that they can also gather the hope and the healing that we hope comes out of these discussions with men like John Sikkema and women who we’ve talked to who have gone through crucible experiences and have emerged on the other side living more robust lives, focused on more important principles.

Gary S:

That’s the truth that we want to come through in every episode of Beyond The Crucible and that truth is this, that your crucible experience is painful, we know it. All three of us who’ve been part of this conversation have had very painful crucibles, but those crucibles were not the end of our story. It wasn’t the end of John’s story, for sure. It wasn’t the end of Warwick’s story for sure and it does not have to be the end of your story. Your crucible experience in fact can be the beginning of a new chapter in your story. Here’s the remarkable thing, it can be the best chapter yet. Because if you learn the lessons of the crucible and you apply them as you move forward, where that chapter leads is to a destination you couldn’t have imagined before the crucible and that destination is a life of significance.

Leave a Comment