Living an Intentional Life with Hospitality Trendsetter Larry Broughton
Life was bleak for Larry Broughton.
As he sat there, all alone on the rooftop of the building he lived in, regret and despair crushing him with their might, Larry broke down in tears.
“What the hell have you done,” he raged at himself. Why had he left a purpose-packed life as a member of the United States Army Special Forces for this?
The former Green Beret looked around that rooftop, trying not to think about his apartment a few floors below. It was a filthy studio apartment shared with two others, about as depressing as the “no-tell motel” he’d found a job in.
Five dollars an hour went to him for his auditing work, and another hourly rate was paid to that motel by its patrons, in and out 24 hours a day, one or more hours at a time. Larry Broughton made the best of his living arrangements by sleeping during the day and working the 11 pm to 7 am shift at the hotel.
He was barely recognizable as the warrior he’d been not long ago, having left all the positive, intentional lifestyle practices and habits behind. He now blended in better with the other staff members – a pimp on probation, drug dealers, addicts, and prostitutes both on staff and as frequent hotel patrons.
You’d never guess he’d been through any of that, or the dark times still before him, looking at him now.
The congenial, fit, dapper man with energy radiating out of him is an all-American success story. His company owns or manages 20 hotels, with a recent deal to more than double that number in the next few years.
The boy whose undiagnosed dyslexia caused him to struggle in school, and was told by his guidance counselor he wasn’t smart enough for his dream career as a veterinarian, is now also an author, a writer for top publications, a speaker, and an avid reader. The young man who sat on that rooftop all those years ago, trapped in an unintentional life, found his intent and is living it large.
Larry Broughton is living his own American Dream – but it was not an easy path.
“I’ve had to scrape along the bottom,” says Larry, “with a lot of bruises and broken bones.”
Life slowly got better for Larry after that night on the rooftop. He went back to the gym. He continued his college work. He began connecting with people again. He continued showing up for his job until an investment company bought that dive motel. The young managing member of that investment company liked Larry. Long-buried leadership skills and intentional habits from his days in the military began to reemerge, and Larry was hired to manage what became one of the first boutique hotels.
The hotel industry is a mish-mosh of disciplines and expertise. Real estate, financing, team-building, leadership and marketing skills are all required. It is demanding and challenging, and Larry loved it from the start.
It didn’t take him long to recognize he was far more suited for the hotel industry than the political arena he’d been studying. He eventually became a partner with that investment company. He got married. Between his and his wife’s income, money flowed in. Things were going so well, Larry decided it was time to take his first real break since he started working at age 14.
A first it went beautifully. He and his wife had a daughter, and Larry’s whole world magnified with the love he never expected to feel. He bought some restaurants, enjoyed the income flow, and focused on time with his family for over a year before he felt that stirring inside, telling him it was time to get back to work.
“I realized I didn’t need to retire,” he says. He’d simply needed a rest.
In 2001, Larry launched his first hotel company. It should have amplified his income and enhanced life for his family. Instead, life sucker-punched him.
The dot-com bubble burst. The Avian flu hit, and then 9/11 happened. He felt the pull of patriotism and service and told his wife he was going back to the military. His wife pushed back, opposed to the notion, and he gave in. Resentment smoldered inside of him as he watched his brothers return without him. Despair and desperation consumed him as the travel industry shriveled up, and companies everywhere staggered in the aftermath.
He hadn’t seen it coming. He’d been totally unprepared for his life to veer back toward that dark, cavernous hole of despair he already worked so hard to climb out of. But before he knew what hit him, there he was.
Eighty-four dollars was all he had left in his account. He resorted to his unhealthy coping mechanisms of days gone by, all the while withholding the gravity of their situation from his wife. His marriage collapsed with everything else, and his wife took their daughter with her when she left.
There was nothing left for Larry. He was worth more as a dead man, according to his financial status. So on December 4, 2001, Larry took a long look at his life, weighing the cost-benefit analysis of killing himself or fighting to rebuild one more time.
“Thank goodness I didn’t actually go through with that I’d been thinking at the time. What I realized I had to do was surrender to the universe and myself.”
He hit his knees that night, surrendering to his faith and to whatever experiences he would have to endure, to be there for his daughter. In those quiet moments, he’d glimpsed the multi-generational impact it would have on her if he wasn’t there. “If ever there was a time for you to be a warrior,” he told himself, “this is it.”
With a renewed determination to reclaim his life, Larry Broughton took a long hard look at his own accountability.
He realized he’d been isolating himself from family and friends, and that the sense of being all alone was something he’d created. He reached out to friends, swallowing his sense of pride and asking for help – and his friends came through.
One friend offered him a job. It was a job Larry brought immense value to, navigating hotel deals. Just like that. With one phone call and a hefty dose of humility, Larry saved his own life and preserved his child’s innocence.
“Here’s the thing you need to realize; When you ask for help you move closer to your fullest potential.”
That’s a lesson Larry learned through his struggles and one which he imparts to others today. He speaks on stages all over the world, consults with Fortune 500 companies, shares insight in his books and articles, and mentors people directly. It’s his way of making everything he went through matter.
His financial success is just a by-product of his new, intentional life. Success means more than that. It’s about providing value.
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The only way to find success is to stop chasing it. Instead, seek to serve others in any capacity. That is the path that leads to an intentional, fulfilled life.
Larry Broughton has lead millions of people down that intentional path, and shows no sign of stopping. This pace isn’t for everybody, but it’s perfect for him. “I love what I do and the impact I’m making.”
His story is an excellent example of success through service, strength in surrendering, and the power of a positive mindset.