Are you letting your past define you? How can you redefine your life? After facing one of life’s defining moments, Jay Coughlan knew he had a choice: to be held back by his worst moment or to take action to move his life in a new direction. He chose the latter, using his positive choices to drive a life of faith and encouragement to others.

Who is Jay Coughlan? Jay is the former CEO of Lawson Software and XRS Corporation, and he’s also a convicted felon. After accepting the Lord and recovering from his accident, Jay began making positive changes to his life. He’s now a professional speaker and business mentor at TruBalanced as well as the chairman of MN Adult & Teen Challenge. Jay shares his story and helps others redefine their lives in his new book, Five Bold Choices: Rise Above Your Circumstances and Redefine Your Life.

After recovering from a horrific drunk driving accident, Jay knew couldn’t let his worst moment define him for the rest of his life. He began making positive choices to reprioritize his goals away from work and career toward faith and family. Even with this shift, Jay continued to see success in the business world thanks to strong leadership, humility, and encouraging of others. The world of corporate America is often driven by single-minded ambition, but Jay has proven that balance and a willingness to learn from past mistakes can lead to a fuller life in God’s plan for you.


“Faith becomes number one, then family, then friends. Before, work was number one, and career was number one. The whole prioritization of my focus and goals changed after that accident.” — Jay

“If you read anything on leadership, there’s very few exceptions to the rule that most good leaders have humility.” — Jay

“It was powerful for me to see the influence you could have by your actions more than anything I was saying.” — Jay

“At the top of the list for me was to not be defined by my worst moment, to make the choices that were going to allow me to be defined differently. One of those, not the only one, was to get back to being a CEO.” — Jay


Action plan:

  • You don’t have to be defined by your worst moment. You are the one who decides where you spend your energy.
  • Surround yourself with people who will encourage you and help you achieve your goals, not tell you what you can’t do.
  • Celebrate your successes instead of looking for the failure in yourself and others.
  • Seek clarity on your goals. What path do you want to be on? What has God created you to do, and how can you best serve him?
  • Hold yourself accountable to making change in your life. Use your responsibility to your family and those around you to motivate you in finding intrinsic accountability.

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