“Those who dare to fail miserably can achieve greatly.”

— John F. Kennedy


I had been a registered nurse for ten years, had just turned forty, and was working for my first horrible boss (unfortunately, not my last) when my dear friend smacked me right upside the face with the question, “What do you dream about accomplishing? What would your perfect life look like?” I felt like he was speaking a foreign language. I was trying to maintain my calm, cool, and collected exterior, but I was freaking out on the inside and probably looked like I had just seen a three-headed, purple alien walk through my living room with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I was a single mom with two precious boys, two jobs, and a deadbeat ex-husband. My dream was to have enough time and energy to take a bath alone at the end of the day after we watched Scooby Doo rather than Barney again, to be able to pay all my bills at the end of the month, and to fit into the jeans I had just bought





on sale that were too small but such a good deal. I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to accomplish or what I wanted my life to look like. I had been too busy surviving even to think about it.

Call it a midlife crisis, an epiphany, a mental breakdown, a wakeup call, a walk about, or a come-to-Jesus meeting…. Whatever it was, I knew one door was closing and another opening. I didn’t know what the door looked like or where it was, but I knew it was out there, and that it was important. The fear of entering the unknown was suddenly less significant than working in an environment that, at times, felt like a combat zone, and other times, a school playground where bullies push you around, steal your lunch money, and make fun of your jacked-up teeth or wrong-sized thighs. As I laid my resignation on my boss’s desk, I felt as liberated and free as Andy Dufrane in The Shawshank Redemption after he crawled through several feet of sewage pipe to his freedom. I could practically feel the rain falling out of the sky onto my bare chest as I raised my arms to the heavens. But this feeling was quickly followed by “Oh, crap, what have I done? Did I really just resign from the best-paying job I have ever had?”

Over the next two years, I would earn my MBA, get certified in Lean Six Sigma, and start my new career in process improvement, project management, and large change management projects. While leading multi-million-dollar change projects at work, my largest change projects were unfolding in my personal life. During this time, I discovered a common formula for all change—one practical, five-step formula for all change based on two sets of skills.

The bad news is most of us never get any formal learning on change or the two skill sets required to create it successfully. When you think about it, it really sounds kind of crazy that change is so important and continual in our lives, yet we don’t really get the opportunity to learn how to create it. The good news is we can change that, and it’s not hard.



To me, living your life with possibilities means feeling confident about who you are and what’s important to you; having the courage to push yourself out of your comfort zone to learn, grow, and experience new things; and leading yourself and others with grace to promote an environment where creativity, innovation, and growth can thrive. Achieving all of these goals requires some kind of change, yet most of us never get any formal or informal education on change. Our schools and jobs are measuring how well we add, subtract, read, and work, but not how well we are thriving.

This book is for people who want to feel confident and courageous about creating what comes next in their personal lives or organizations, and who want a practical way to do it.

Here’s how this book works…

Part I has four chapters on changing, thriving, connecting, and leading. These chapters all talk about change. You’ll learn how change really works, from creating an idea in our heads to completion; why change is really important; how innovative research on thriving reveals the skills we need to make change happen effectively; how to connect to our- selves and the people and things we value; and why we must practice authentic leadership of ourselves before we can be authentic leaders of others.

Then Chapters 5 to 13 are separated into four key parts, one for each of the four domains of Emotional Intelligence: Part II: Self-Awareness, Part III: Self-Management, Part IV: Social Awareness, and Part V: Relationship Management. All chapters have activities at the end so you can start applying the skills from that chapter. Remember practice makes habits.

Finally, Part VI talks about how the Innovative Fundamentals approach can be used in organizations and school systems to promote a culture of




continual growth, respect for ourselves and others, team work, collaboration, and leadership. This approach can promote a complete K-12 Social and Emotional Learning program that will prepare the next generation to be leaders of change in the workforce and their personal lives and allow organizations to educate and include all staff in creating successful change in their work areas and their lives so they can perform at their best and achieve what they are capable of achieving.

I hope you enjoy discovering how the Innovative Fundamentals Approach can help you find and live your purpose with courage, confidence, and grace, whether that is by opening your own business, loving the work you are already doing, raising your children with love and compassion, painting the perfect picture, creating better relationships with friends, finding the love of your life, or growing the perfect pecan tree.


Here’s to your success in all your endeavors!


Toie Martin

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