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A little background on Russell Breton (that’s me!)
I thought maybe I’d get a little vulnerable and tell you how growing up in poverty with an alcoholic mom actually taught me the two things that helped me become a successful coaching business owner.
Let me ask you this: Have you ever had a moment that shaped you?
For me, one of those moments started in a tiny trailer where my mom, younger sister, and I lived. We grew up in a small rural town in California called Upper Lake with a population of 1,052 people. It was not uncommon to see a riding lawnmower on the highway.
My mom was battling an alcohol addiction while trying to raise two kids. She did the best she knew how, but eventually my younger sister and I ended up in the foster care system while my mom went through rehab.
Have you ever seen a mom with a fire in her eyes to protect her family? That was my mom when she finally got my sister and I back post-rehab. She was determined to make her second chance count.
After we were reunited we had nowhere to live, so we ended up in a barn – yes, a literal barn – that a local farmer let us live in. As a little boy I thought it was awesome. I felt like I was Mowgli from The Jungle Book living around so many animals.
To get us back on our feet, my mom was working as a waitress, putting herself through school full-time, interning at a CPA firm, and raising two kids (while staying sober). Eventually we got enough money to move into our own tiny 1-bedroom house. It was a shack, but to us… it was everything.
At night I’d sometimes sneak out of my room and watch as my mom sat at the table…
She’d be sitting there with a pot of coffee next to her, an alarm clock that would go off every few minutes (so she didn’t fall asleep), and open books all over the table. She would sit there all night and study… slapping her face, sipping coffee, and knowing full well that her first shift started at 5 a.m.
I’d watch her with tears in my eyes because I knew she was doing this for me and my sister.
What do you do when your mom is sleeping two hours a night, taking on the world for you, but you don’t know how to help her? I did the only thing I could think of… I’d write her little notes.
“Dear mom, I’m sorry I was bad today. I like your hair, and you can rub my back if you want… okay got to go bye.”
And then I’d fold these notes into paper airplanes and throw them on the table where she was sitting, then run back in bed and hide so I didn’t get in trouble for being out of bed.
Me holding some of the “paper airplane” notes my mom saved
This went on for a couple years, but eventually my mom graduated top-of-her-class and said something from the stage at her graduation that floored me.
(This is where that life-shaping moment happened for me.)
From the podium, she spoke into the mic: “This was really hard… And I wanted to quit every day… But someone in my life wouldn’t let me…”
And then she looked at me and pulled out a shoe box, opened the lid, and pulled out a paper airplane.
“Each night, as I was studying, my son would throw these notes at me…”
She held up one note at a time.
“This one reminded me of what I was fighting for…”
“This note told me how loved I was and how much I mattered…”
“And this one reminded me that I have damn good hair…”
The crowd laughed. But I started to cry.
In that moment, I learned two things that changed my life:
My voice has power. In that moment I felt like my voice helped my mom do what felt impossible to her. You can make a way where there is no way. I realized that nothing was actually impossible, and that made me feel unstoppable.
Ever since then, my entire life has been about finding ways to use my voice to help others. And that brings us to this moment.
You see, as a coach, you have a message that can heal hearts and minds. And my goal is to use my voice to help you connect your message to as many hearts and minds as possible.
I’m so excited to jump on a call with you and talk through what is possible in your business. We’ll talk soon!
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