A Pinoy Breakthrough
By Bo Sanchez
We Filipinos have weird dreams – like dreaming the American Dream – you know, a life of abundance in the land of milk and honey. But there’s a more wonderful dream and it happened to me. I call it a breakthrough.
Have you ever been denied a visa? If not, believe me, you don’t want to experience it. I’ve been denied a visa. Twice. From the United States Embassy no less. Look into my heart and you’ll find two ugly scars.
I remember my first attempt. I was still in my teens. When I woke up, I was already wet with nervous sweat. It didn’t help that when I arrived in the U.S. Embassy, I saw a humongous crowd of hopeful Pinoys outside the gates of American Heaven. They were standing in long lines, all of them begging for a visa. I felt their collective fear. It was nerve-wracking.
Am I human?
Each step closer to the interviewer made my stomach churn. I could actually hear the loud beating of my chest and wondered if everyone else heard it. Dub-dub. Dub-dub. Dub-dub. Finally, it was my turn. The consul, a thirtyish guy with square spectacles, was all business. He looked at my passport. I bet he already made up his mind right there, but the interview had to go on. He asked, “So why do you want to go to the U.S.?”I said, “I’m a preacher and a Catholic convention is inviting me to give a talk.”
That was when I realized— my gosh! Who in the world would believe me? A pimple-faced, scarecrow-looking teenager being invited to speak in a religious convention?
The man abruptly left his cubicle. I imagined he was laughing out loud and rolling on the floor. When he came back, he said matter-of-factly, “I’m sorry, Mr. Sanchez, I can’t possibly give you a visa.” Again, I imagined him say instead, “I’m sorry, Mr. Sanchez, you’re so totally unworthy of stepping on the beautiful shores of America because we only accept human beings.”
The second time I applied, the interviewer was an American lady. She was very kind to me. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry, I can’t possibly give you a visa,” she said, “I’m so very sorry, I can’t possibly give you a visa.” But it still broke my heart.
By the third time I applied, I thought I was already an expert in the body language of diplomats. I got ready for another denial. Here were the signs I was looking for: If the consul has an emotionless zombie look on his face, I’d get denied. If he shakes his head… Denied. If he raises an eyebrow… Denied. If he yawns… Denied. If he looks at his watch… Denied. If he inhales oxygen… Denied. If he exists in front of me… Denied.
I’m a Human Being After All
So I was so shocked when he approved my visa. Just like that. Without asking me a question, the guy said, “Have a nice trip.” “Excuse me?” I asked. He smiled and repeated himself, “Have a nice trip.” “Where am I going?” I asked. But I finally got it. I almost ran out of the embassy jumping up and down.Hey, I’m a human being after all!
Life with a Visa
When I still didn’t have a visa, I remember visiting my neighbor who had a potted plant from the U.S. I put my foot in it and announced, “Hey guys, I’ve finally stepped on U.S. soil!” When I didn’t have a visa, I couldn’t step on an inch of U.S. territory. But because I got the visa, I’ve now preached in 34 cities in North America.
Friends, there’s something better than a U.S. visa. There’s a visa to the land of abundance and love and victory that God wants you to have. I should know.
I’m experiencing it right now.
It’s Harvest Time for Me
People ask me, “Bo, how can you be so blessed?” They point to my loving family. They point to my fantastic job that blesses the world. They point to my financial blessings from my small businesses. They point to my incredible circle of friends. They point to my irresistible good looks. (Note:“They” consist of my mother and my wife.) Yes, I’m living a dream life. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself. Is this really happening?
Let me tell you a curious thing that started happening when I hit 40. In 2006, I was named Ten Outstanding Young Men, awarded by the President in Malacañang Palace no less. In 2007, I was given the Serviam Award, the highest award of the Catholic Mass Media Awards by none other than Cardinal Rosales himself. Also in 2007, another fantastic recognition: The Golden Gavel Award from Toastmasters International—the highest award given to non-Toastmasters– for public speaking.
Do you know why I’m so blessed? Here’s my theory: there are two seasons in this universe – the Planting Season and the Harvest Season. For 40 years, I was in the Planting Season. Today, I’m in the Harvest Season of my life.
It’s that simple. For years, I’ve planted and planted…and planted! Crossing the line between planting and harvesting was like receiving a visa to a land of abundance and ease. This is what happened: I’ve experienced a breakthrough.
Let me describe these two seasons as simply as I can. I cannot think of a clearer explanation as this: In the Planting Season, I chased after blessings. In the Harvest Season, blessings are chasing after me.
How to get to Harvest
There really are only two Powerful Steps.
Step 1 – Even if you see no results, keep planting
Many are getting tired of doing good, of doing the right thing.
Why? Because you don’t see the results. So you want to give up. Don’t! Or there will be no Harvest.
Perhaps you’ve been applying for a job, but the right job has not been coming. Never mind. Keep applying anyway.
Perhaps you’ve been reaching out to your son, but he’s still distant as ever. Never mind. Keep reaching out to your son anyway.
Perhaps you’ve been working on your finances, but you’re still buried in debt. Never mind. Keep working on your finances anyway.
Perhaps you’ve been working on your marriage but the relationship is still strained. Never mind. Keep working on your marriage anyway. A wife said to her husband, “I’m so tired of our fighting. I can’t take it anymore. I’m leaving the house!” And the husband said, “Me too! I can’t take it anymore as well. I don’t want to stay in this house either. I’m coming with you.” That husband wasn’t about to give up!
(Note: I’m not talking about abuse in marriage. These are the exceptions where it may be better for a husband and wife to live apart. In this article, I’m talking about the regular problems that slowly destroy marriages if we don’t work at our relationship.)
Some of us think if we plant, we’ll harvest. That’s not how this universe works.
You’ll need to plant and plant and plant…and then you’ll harvest. My friend, don’t give up. Believe that harvest is coming! Keep Showing Up! Friend, if you want to succeed in life, you need to show up.
In the U.S. embassy, I needed to show up for my interview. And when I got denied, I just applied again. When life denies you of what you dream for, here’s the key: show up again. What if I got so depressed and I never tried again? I would never have been able to preach in 34 cities in North America.
Remember that in the Planting Season, not all your seeds will grow. Many of your seeds won’t reach the Harvest Season. Some of your seeds will die.
I remember one area of my life where I had to plant again and again, almost giving up because it seemed as though nothing was happening…
Planting Seeds of Love in my Emotions
For almost 30 years, I was run by my fears. Each morning, I would wake up with a profound sense of sadness. For many years, I didn’t know why I felt so sickeningly sad. Many years later, I was able to define it: it was shame. I had a shame-based personality, rooted in my molestation as a child and teen years. (I talk about this painful part of my life in my two books, Your Past Does Not Define Your Future and 7 Secrets to Real Freedom.) I was totally ashamed of who I was. I was ashamed that I existed in the world.
For years, I tried to please everyone. Because if someone didn’t like me, I would panic. I would die within. I was desperate for people to love me. But daily, I planted seeds of love in my heart. I received God’s love. I loved myself aggressively. I allowed others to love me. There were days when I was okay. But there were more days when my old fears would grip me again. There were days when I wanted to give up. I felt it was all a waste—that I would never get healed.
And then one day—I just noticed it—my fears were lessening; their intensity weakening. My shame reared its ugly head less frequently. I knew a miracle was happening. I knew love was conquering my soul, edging fear out of my life. Today, as I write this piece, my life has totally changed. Harvest has come!
I now profoundly love myself. I’m no longer ashamed of myself. I cannot begin to describe to you the change in my inner life. It’s like night changed to day—and I’m a brand new person inside.
But there’s a second step to Harvest Season…
Step 2 – Plant in the right environment
The Law of the Harvest says, what you plant, you harvest. But hidden in this Law is the need to plant your seeds in the right environmental conditions: good sunlight and abundant water. If I plant the right seeds in the wrong environment, there’ll still be no harvest. What is the right environment? Faith.
You need to plant your seeds with blessing mindset. Faith is the water and sunlight of your seeds. What is a blessing mindset? That no matter what happens, you expect to be blessed. That you expect good things to happen to you. I know people who work on their finances—but don’t expect to be truly rich. I know people who work on their family relationships—but don’t expect that they’ll ever get better. I know people who work on their health—but don’t expect healing. If you want to be blessed you have to expect to be blessed. You have to expect the harvest. Let me give you an example.
Develop Your Wealth Mindset
In one of my blogs, I said that if you want to harvest more money, you have to plant value. Why? Because money is simply a symbol of value. But why was it that for the first 30 years of my life, I was poor, even when I was planting the right seeds? When I started serving God at age 13, preaching almost daily and leading non-profit organizations, I was already planting value into my life and enormous value in others—by helping countless of people. I planted what I believe are the three seeds of wealth—character (integrity), competence (gifting), and connections (relationships).
So why no harvest? I didn’t have the right blessing mindset to make the seeds grow. In this case, I lacked a wealth mindset to make the seeds of money grow. I didn’t want to become rich. I didn’t expect to be blessed. It took years to get rid of my scarcity mentality. It came from – wrong beliefs about myself (I identified myself with poverty), wrong beliefs about God (I thought He wanted me to be poor) and wrong beliefs about money (I believed it was the tool of the devil). I remained poor because I didn’t want the harvest.
I was already giving so much value to people, all I had to do was ask and I’d get paid handsomely. But I didn’t want to be paid. So I remained poor. When I hit 30 years old, I began to open myself to harvest. I began to grow a wealth mindset. And I began to grow my wealth too.
I remember reading all the books I could get on money and searching for all the mentors I could find. I kept learning until everything made sense. I also got into eight small businesses—and failed in every single one of them. I lost tons of money. (I didn’t have much money then, so “tons” is a relative term.) It was devastating. Depressing! But I never gave up.
And then breakthrough came. Today, money flows to me like a river. (Compared to my multimillionaire mentors, my river is more like a trickle from a leaking faucet. But it sure looks good to me!) I don’t look for business opportunities; business opportunities come to me. And the right people, the right resources, and the right wisdom just come to me.
Yes, harvest has come. And greater harvests are coming because I keep planting.
Even at Harvest, Keep Planting
Some of you are enjoying your Harvest Season in various areas of your life. Don’t stop planting. Don’t forget to take some of the seeds that you harvest and plant them. If you do this, greater Harvest Seasons will come.