Letting Loose: A Reflection on 2014


Steve WoodruffTo say that 2014 was a year of major transitions in the TeamW household would be quite an understatement. For me, and for my family, this year was a series of big shifts.

The biggest transition was our move from New Jersey to Tennessee in July, which involved a whole bunch of related changes; new jobs/school for our kids, finding a new church, fitting into a new community, and bascially re-thinking a whole bunch of life issues.

We have viewed this whole episode as a life re-boot, with (still) a lot of unanswered questions but a sense that we’re moving in the right direction.

(I constitutionally don’t like unanswered questions, by the way…they bother me! I am compelled to figure out how things fit together, and they often….just don’t. I guess I’ll take that conundrum to the grave…! :>)

I remember years ago hearing a friend describe someone as “wound too tight,” and that would be a pretty accurate summary of me. Decades ago, during seven years in Nashville, I was learning to relax and be more human – but then we moved to New Jersey and during that transition, I felt under tremendous scrutiny, and relentless pressure to “get my act together” as a man/husband/worker/father/Christian. Some of this was external (I was in a graduate-level program for 2.5 years preparing for ministry) and some was self-generated, because, you know – I’m uptight. Undiagnosed clinical depression certainly didn’t help.

But some of it was just the rush-rush culture of the Northeast. I think it’s fair to say that I never really settled into an inward sense of rest, even after the depression was brought under control. And my wife and I concluded, over time, that we never would feel at ease unless we moved into a more “fitting” cultural setting. The mid-South seemed to be that sweet spot.

So we moved to Franklin, TN, and I think one of the most important milestones of 2014 was just…letting loose.

I remember presenting at the Nashville Podcamp event in the spring (before our move) when for the first time, I really felt like I was unshackled as a speaker. I let my mind and heart loose and had a wonderful session with the audience. Now, I’ve presented countless times before audiences in the past decades, with good effectiveness – but this was a new level of heart liberation. I was at ease.

I sought to be a good neighbor while living in NJ, but here in Tennessee, being neighborly is not an effort – it’s normal. It’s relaxed – and relaxing.

I pro-actively networked for all these years, but now that I feel like I fit into a broader community, it’s so much more fluid. People everywhere are open-faced and kind, which allows me to drop my guard and be the same.

In short, we’re kinda starting over again. But not feeling under an intense magnifying glass. It’s a new place, but it feels like we “fit” – it’s home.

Financially. it wasn’t the best year – though our cost of living did drop significantly with the move! While my Clarity Therapy work continues to succeed and mature, I’m going to spend the first few months of 2015 re-working my business model – and some of you have been (and continue to be) extremely helpful in that brainstorming process. Part of my letting loose, in fact, is just asking for help when I can’t figure out my own stuff. Turns out I’m far better at helping other people see their forest and trees, while I can be quite lost in my own.

And one of the areas where I plan to let loose in 2015 is in my blogging. I’ve been finding and developing my “voice” over these past 8 years, but I still feel like I’ve been too formal and propositional in my writing – giving glimpses of humanity and spontaniety but not fully shaking off the sense of writing-as-performance. Starting with this post, I’m going to allow Steve-the-human more room to roam.

Also – ever since my late teens, I have felt like I was destined to write books. I’ve hesitated, fearful and uncertain, at the starting line for far too long. So this is the year I write about how clarity can lead to the most powerful business driver – referrals. And I’m publicly telling you this because, to be quite honest, I’m intimidated and need your support (and accountability).

Isn’t it ironic that some of us, facing a new year, need to push themselves harder – while others of us need to learn to chill and flow? Human development has no one-size-fits-all recipe!

Thanks for listening to this year-end ramble. Let me know how I can be an encouragement to you as you strive toward your 2015 goals!


  1. I respect you and admire the good you strive to bring to others. A happy and healthy 2015 to you and yours, Steve!

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