Today we’d like to introduce you to Vince Morales.
Vince, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps in 1989, and I began my law enforcement career in Orange County, CA. We eventually moved to Washington State, where my wife is originally from to resume my law enforcement career. I was assigned as our department’s first School Resource Officer (SRO) assigned to our high school, middle school, and an alternative school. I served as a regional coordinator for Students Against Violence Everywhere (SAVE), an organization that was part of Mothers Against Violence in America (MAVIA). I was a facilitator/instructor for Schools and Cops Opting for Positive Education (SCOPE), a youth violence prevention program I taught every week at our high school and our alternative school. Between that class and SAVE, I had the opportunity to coach our students to be a powerful voice in our community and an essential part of our community’s grassroots efforts to deal with our rising juvenile crime issue. This was my first exposure to a form of coaching, which would eventually lead me to my current profession as a certified life coach. One of the joys of that time in my life was the positive relationships formed with many of those students. In fact, many of my former SAVE and SCOPE students are now adults and follow me on Facebook. The funny stories we share today about those days.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
After I left law enforcement, my wife, Michelle, and I went into business. In fact, my wife and I started four businesses over the years. Our first two did okay. Our third business was in sports videography in the Seattle area. It did very well, but we knew we wanted to leave the Seattle area for San Diego once our youngest child graduated from high school. We were ready for the sun and beach. We eventually moved to San Diego looking to transition into real estate videography while my wife pursued a career as a real estate agent. But, we ultimately determined neither was going to work out for us after arriving in San Diego. A year later, we had the opportunity to go to Oklahoma to help a group conduct training for their team. We returned to Southern California six months later. Before arriving, we had an arrangement to house sit for a relative who was temporarily in another state dealing with personal matters that included a marital separation. The agreement would also allow us to prepare in terms of acquiring jobs and housing. During this time, the husband of this relative demanded we leave the residence despite not being ready to move out. We were given three days notice to vacate.
Three days later, on April 3, 2016, my wife, three adult age kids, and myself left the residence and returned to San Diego. The problem was we had no housing. What we didn’t know was a time of homelessness had begun. After attempting to settle (sleep in our car) in the Liberty Station area and downtown San Diego areas, we ended up in the Carmel Mountain Ranch area.
Naturally, the first five months were incredibly difficult. We had to undertake a severe mindset shift just to survive. A mindset that is just about survival is an interesting one. A mindset for your next meal, for your safety, your mindset about personal hygiene, including how clean you keep your vehicle, which doubles as your home. It took a different mindset that public restrooms become the place you bath. Thankfully my wife took on a part-time job working morning shifts at a local restaurant in Carmel Mountain Ranch. I was amazed how each day she provided excellent customer service without anyone knowing we were homeless, except for a couple of co-workers. Four months into our homelessness, our van broke down. A local retailer allowed us to park our vehicle in their parking lot, as long as it was parked towards the back. We were now without mobility, and the van was merely shelter. Something you don’t think much about is how painful homelessness becomes physically. Sleeping every night in a seated up position poses a significant health risk due to the risk of blood clots. My wife and I both were experiencing a degrading of the use of our legs.
Eventually, I believed I was coming apart emotionally and mentally. My family got together to discuss having me committed to a VA hospital. I was outraged and bitter that the local veterans group weren’t helping us much. Never mind there were many other veterans in similar homeless situations, and even worse But you don’t think about that when it’s you in that position, especially when you are already angry and bitter. By this time, I had no sense of identity. I did not know who I was. I was a marine, former cop, businessman, etc…but now, I was just a homeless man. I was another homeless veteran stat. Of course, now my identity as a husband father, and as a man were out the window. Shame was all I knew by this point. Why was this happening to me? Why me? No-one was suffering like me. No-one understood my suffering, our suffering.
Then an extraordinary thing happened on the way into October. I had been reading a book that I had read two other times before by John C. Maxwell called “Thinking for a Change.” I took a hard look at my mindset. Naturally, I began looking closely at my mindset because when I launched out into coaching, I chose the mindset niche. I became intentional and became resolute in changing my mindset, my thinking, and my perceptions. I began to wake up each morning, deciding I would inspire, encourage, and empower someone. I stopped praying for us, and we just focused on praying for others who were in worse situations than us. My wife, Michelle, and I decided homelessness would have no power over us.
We simply made a decision we would no longer allow self-pity, self-rejection, anger, and bitterness to beat us. We decided then that each day, we would be influencers and impact makers.
We decided that when we could, we would feed someone. If even one person. Though homeless, why couldn’t we feed another homeless brother or sister? I stopped thinking that I couldn’t coach people just because we did not have a home. So I started coaching clients. Most did not know we were homeless. Eventually, some found out, but they were immensely moved at the thought their life coach was homeless who never let on I was homeless. Several affectionally dubbed me the “homeless life coach,” I suppose the power of the irony.
My wife and I learned to thrive amid homelessness. Survival was no longer our mindset. Thriving is what we did. No longer blamed anyone, any organization, any political group, president, presidential candidate, no-one. Here is why. The moment we took personal responsibility for our situation, despite how it unfolded, the moment we owned it, that’s when we then possessed the power to change our particular situation. We couldn’t change it as long as we believed it was some veterans group’s responsibility to take care of us. I released my bitterness and anger. I found immense peace and joy amid this experience. Renewed faith, hope, and love for people…even as a homeless man. I was healthy again in mind, in body, and in my soul.
Finally, while being a homeless couple, my wife and I discovered our identity. We found who we are, and finally, it was no longer attached to the jobs we did or the titles we earned. I discovered what it was to be a man, husband, and father without my identity being attached to some societal perception of success. I rediscovered true faith in my life.
During the first week of June, a group of people blessed me by sending me to my first coaching certification. They paid my tuition, hotel, and food. On June 24, 2017, our homelessness ended. We now had our own place to live again. But we found “home” back when we decided to change our mindset and even in that van…we could call home. 447 days our homelessness lasted. We had one cooked meal over that time. Oh, how sweet to have our own bed, our own private toilet, and to actually sleep with my legs straight.
Since then, so many exciting things have happened for the “homeless life coach.” 11 months after our homelessness, I became a certified John Maxwell Team Coach, Trainer, & Speaker, a certified integrative NLP practitioner, accepted as an official contributing member of the Forbes Coaches Council and I was accepted to Penn State University online program for my Masters in Psychology of Leadership.
One of my highlights as a motivational speaker was speaking to an aerospace company who is developing that jet propulsion system for a mission to Mars project. I was literally speaking to rocket scientists and sharing my homeless story. Typically when I share about this time, it is in the context of resiliency.
One of the things we folks learned about our homeless season was never to refer to it as some time in our life they had to be sad about. No feeling sorry for us. It became one of the most beautiful seasons of our life. It has helped shape who we are today.
One really cool thing is I was recently hired a few months ago by another company who is a sub-contractor for the Department of Labor to conduct weekly 3-Day career transition workshops for military personnel and their spouses who are separating or retiring from active duty. I absolutely love my job serving our military and equipping them for success in their transition to the civilian workforce.
So, as you know, we’re impressed with Zoe Transformation Coaching & Consulting – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
Zoe Transformation Coaching & Consulting, a veteran owned coaching and consulting business, offers 1–on-1 life coaching, mindset coaching, relationship coaching, self-image mastery, emotional intelligence for individuals, and leadership coaching for organizations, groups, teams, etc. For individuals, I also offer integrative NLP services. As a certified John Maxwell Team Coach, Trainer, & Speaker, I can provide Lunch n’ Learns, seminars & workshops, and masterminds on John C. Maxwell topics. I also offer Maxwell DISC Method Behavioral assessments and training for individuals and groups. I am also available as a motivational/keynote speaker on team building, empowerment leadership, resiliency, and change your words, change your world. I do have a Speaker One Sheet that has more about me as a speaker. By the way, as a veteran and former police officer, I do offer 1-to-1 coaching for veterans and law enforcement.
As a company, I am most proud (and what sets us apart) is my wife, and I navigated our difficult homeless season. Remember, we started as a coaching company while homeless. It was while I was the “homeless life coach” that I got my start. I will never forget how I started and where we came from. We genuinely understand the destructive power of self-pity, self-rejection, anger, and bitterness. We also truly understand that in a moment, a decision to not allow your circumstance to have control over you, your mindset and thinking, can totally flip your world right-side up.
So, what’s next? Any big plans?
At this point, we plan to eventually move into our own office space. Typically 1-to-1 coaching is via video conference platform or face-to-face at a coffee shop or library. This is going to take some time getting into our own office space. We would love to have our own conference meeting space to host regular masterminds and possibly our Empower University. I am co-authoring a major book slated for released January 2020 that is the largest veteran co-authorship in history. 20 veteran authors from different military eras are involved. My part of the book will be on resiliency and our homeless story.
I am available to speak to groups, teams, companies, and students about our story and the power of resiliency and how we all can make these significant mind-shifts in our life only by choosing the right mindset.
- 1-to-1 life coaching – $110 per session
- Self-Image Mastery – My Empowerment Quest – $49
- Leadership Seminar – Courtyard by Marriott-Rancho Bernardo – October 8th, 2019 – $45 Early Bird Reg.
- Maxwell DISC Method Behavioral/Personality Assessment – $175 (Contact for group DISC training)
- Contact me for motivational/keynote Speaking
- Check our website for upcoming webinars
- FREE Phone Consultation
- Address: Zoe Transformation Coaching & Consulting
San Diego, CA
- Website: https://www.Empowr.Today
- Phone: (858) 735-2558
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: empowered4transformation
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ZoeTransformation/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/zoeempowered
- Other: https://www.johncmaxwellgroup.com/vincemorales/