Visualizing a payroll I didn’t have

by Steven Mundahl on September 9, 2013

I recall vividly the week that began with an overdrawn bank account at my agency. Starting a payroll week overdrawn was not a good practice, and I immediately knew we’d have a problem. While talking with my finance staff, I quickly realized that expensive insurance premiums had been paid, and those checks had overdrawn the account. Then I learned that another large payment of more than $20,000 hadn’t even cleared yet. I called my banker. I dread these types of calls. It brings out deep insecurity: I’m not a good CEO or I can’t manage my own agency’s money. No matter the insecurity, I’ve learned that honesty is the best policy. Being forthright with your board, your employees, your spouse, or in this case, your banker is always best.

“So, I’m thinking I won’t be able to meet payroll this week,” I began after a few necessary salutations. “Oh and why not?” he asked in banker style. I gave him plausible explanations and told him it simply was a timing problem. I needed him to cover my payroll that week.

“How much are we talking about?” he asked. “Well, about $35,000. Maybe more,” I replied sheepishly.

“$35,000?” he repeated slowly. “You know, Steve, I can’t do this,” he finally said. My heart sank. My world was collapsing. If I couldn’t pay my employees, it meant the end of days, the final curtain call, perhaps, even front-page news!

“Kevin,” I begged, “it is a timing issue. I’ll have it covered by early the next week.” He listened and finally said, “Well, it’s only Tuesday. Transfer everything you can. We’ve got until Friday. Make it happen, Steve. I’ll see what I can do to cover you, but I can’t promise we won’t send checks back.” That was a long week for me, a very long week. Thursday morning came, and we were short by $36,270. I had been off by only $1,200. We couldn’t meet our next day payroll. All week I sat with Sharon, my wife. We had been visualizing that a solution would come and that my agency wouldn’t fold in disgrace or shame for not being able to pay my employees.

“Believe in the purpose of this agency,” she offered. “Think of how it serves your staff, of the disabled people it serves. Believe that if it is for good, all higher powers love to find a way to help in these situations.” I listened intently. “Spirit will find a way,” she continued. “You only need to believe and see it finished, see it whole, see it done.”  Spirit will find a way? All higher powers love to help good causes? Did I believe that much? Did I really believe that much in the unseen world that help could come in the most material way? My payroll could really be covered? There was no doubt that Sharon’s belief far exceeded my own. I was more of a Sunday morning believer. Could I really hand this over to a benevolent higher consciousness and hope for a solution?

That night I lay in bed and stayed as positive as I could. I thought about how this agency had served people for eighty-four years and thought of all the disabled people, the customers, the staff it was presently serving. I visualized us somehow getting past this situation, and with warm thoughts toward Mother Goodwill, I simply surrendered. I hadn’t seen how this could end in anything but an ugly, shaming, and embarrassing front-page story, yet I gave it all to God and went to sleep.

At work the next morning, I opened the bank account. We had overdrawn by $36,270. I left a voice mail message to my banker, who hadn’t arrived at work yet, admitting I hadn’t found a solution.

Two hours later, my finance clerk came in with a smile on her face. She handed me a check for services we’d rendered to a large account. I opened it as she stood before me, the check amount…$36,382! Spirit had found a way to toss an extra $112 into my account!

Gratefully, I took the check and deposited it. Kevin and the bank were happy, but I wasn’t just happy; I was dumbfounded in my joy. How could I not have believed? How could I have doubted that Spirit would show the way and give me a $112 tip? Visualization is a powerful leadership tool. So powerful, in fact, that it can change outcomes. It can change our future. Add to it the power of belief, and there is little one cannot achieve. Whether an employee payroll or a cataclysmic event—visualize your future, your desire, your need, and your wants . . . Spirit will provide.

Steven Mundahl

CEO at Goodwill Industies in Western MA
Steven Mundahl is president and CEO of Goodwill Industries in western Massachusetts. He teaches leadership and personal effectiveness in the graduate school of Baypath College.

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