Join Us On the 100 Percent Adventure
November 10, 2014
The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to behonorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that youhave lived and lived well. John Wesley
I have to be honest. This is my second blog post and it is super intimidating looking at all of this white space while hoping someone besides my mom reads it. This is also well outside of my comfort zone since I am a pretty private person. 100 Percent will bring not only me, but my whole family into public in a meaningful way if we accomplish what I hope to. Then again, I don't know how I could live with myself if I didn't try. So here goes......
I think a big part of the problem is secrets. Very few want to say that they have a disability. Very few parents want to admit that their child has a disability. Very few want to hire people living with disabilities. Because of this, people are ashamed and pushed off in a corner of society. Well, that has to change. There need to be no more secrets and absolutely no more shame because we are better than that. I look at how far we have come as a society and I really believe that it is time to have this conversation. Time to ask questions. Time to value all people equally. Time to stop talking about change and actually do something, anything. We have too much at stake, too many things to fix.
Wow, that was pretty heavy stuff, so I hope you are still with me. My perspective on this is as a parent. Like all parents, I only wanted the best for my children. I want them to have it better than I had and more choices. I want them to live in a better world. But more than anything else, I just want my children to be happy. I think the mistake I’ve made is assuming my definition of happiness will be the same for my children. Matthew defines happiness in a much different way. Tolerance. Complete joy in the moment. Always smiling. Finding the best in others. I have a lot to learn about happiness. Still, I see the way some people react to Matthew and I have to be honest, it both pains and angers me. Intellectually, I understand that the reactions are mostly out of ignorance and their own discomfort. It is interesting that only a minority of people have ever really tried to understand or ask questions. I guess most people are afraid of offending me but I think it is actually just the opposite. Not asking questions is harder to take for me at least. I ask questions about people all of the time with the hopes of better understanding. I guess I wish that was the case with my son. It does happen but not often.
Okay, I am four paragraphs in and still nothing about 100 Percent? Really testing your patience now huh? As Matthew got older, I worried about him finding a job. Gosh when my mom said that I won't understand worry until I was a parent, I had no idea how true that really was. I am a pretty analytical guy so I started doing a lot of reading on the employment statistics for people living with a disability. The more I read, the more it became clear that this is a massive problem in the US and an even worse one globally. I felt like I had to do something to try to make Matthew's life a little easier and hopefully a little better.
Well, what are the choices? First, is to approach the government with this issue. Since the government produced most of the statistics around the employment challenges, I figured they were aware of this issue and decided to remove that from my list of big ideas. With all of the problems facing society, I thought it would be difficult to get attention and, more importantly, funding. Next, I studied employment models that already exist. I didn’t find a lot of good models but some of them were really doing some amazing things. The need for employment was so much greater than I had known. I knew we had to do more. I thought the key would be to create a self-sustaining model that allowed people more choices. The more I studied the issue, the more convinced I became that I needed to start something new.
So that's what led me to start 100 Percent. 100 Percent allows me to combine two of the things that matter most to me: being a good dad and work that is fulfilling and meaningful. The start-up of the company has already allowed me to meet some amazing people who have helped me immensely. People that are also touched by the desire to help people living with disabilities (PLWD) but weren't sure exactly how to do it. That has led to some of the best conversations I’ve ever had with people. Conversation that are both deeply thoughtful and personal. 100 Percent touches people in a way unlike anything else I have ever done. This is truly an exciting time to dream about the possibilities. I am so happy that you are reading this and invite you to join us on this adventure.
Another reason that I wanted to start 100 Percent is that I want my work to have meaning. I read a book recently that said, "Success without meaning is hollow". That sentence really had an impact on me. I read another book called “How Do You Measure the Value of your Life” which had a more profound impact on the way I think about work. It made me think about how I spend my time and what that said about me. I thought about how my use of my time reflects my values and how this is true for all of us. I got caught up as an executive with a large multinational company with things that mattered to others but it left me wanting more. My work was important to the company but I found myself focused on things that were no longer important to me. I thought that there had to be a better way to find fulfilling work, hopefully doing something that mattered to society and that mattered to me personally. That is how 100 Percent came about. I will tell you more about our plans as time goes on. I am trying to keep this brief! I mean it when I say that I want to hear your stories too. Please share because we can accomplish so much more by working together.
As always, thank you from 100 Percent.