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Redefine Your Life

Convict turned CEO, Jay Coughlan shares how he lost his father while driving drunk, and how he accepted Christ and rose above his circumstances to get to where he is now—and how you can do it too. Read Transcript

Jay Coughlan became the CEO of a $430 million company.

But not long before serving them,

he was serving a prison sentence for vehicular homicide.

Jay made his incredible turnaround in just four years.

Take a look.

NARRATOR: In 1998, Jay Coughlan, a successful businessman,

went hunting and drinking with his father.

He drove home drunk and got in a terrible accident.

His father didn't survive.

Jay's life became a nightmare.

After grieving his father and serving jail time,

he was determined to rebound.

Jay says anyone can turn their life around

after failure if they make the right decisions.

In his book "Five Bold Choices," Jay

shares how to rise above whatever circumstances

are facing you and reclaim your life.

Well, please welcome to the 700 Club, Jay.

It's great to have you with us.

Thanks for having me.

Thanks for your book.

Let's start where it all began for you, which

was the night of the accident.

What happened?

I was-- my dad was in town from Philadelphia,

my parents were.

We went out to a local hunt club.

Afterwards, my dad and I stopped at a bar, drank too much.

On the way home, missed a turn, went down a hill,

and I hit a train at 60 miles an hour.

And I don't remember much about that,

but I remember waking up in a trauma center,

and I'm in a lot of pain.

And I looked up, and I saw my mom and I saw my wife,

and I could see that something was terribly wrong.

My mom leaned down and said, "Your dad didn't make it."

I said, "What?"

And she said, "Your dad didn't make it."

I'm going to tell you, you don't know

what pain is until you hear something like that.

And I went to a really terrible spot.

I was responsible for losing my dad.

And, for the next three days, I was in a--

I went through a lot of operations.

I was in a lot of pain.

I was tormented.

My wife looked at my eyes and said, "I looked in your eyes,

and you were gone and weren't coming back."

And priests and pastors are coming in,

and I'm kicking them out saying, "You don't understand.

I'm responsible for my dad's death."

And one day, nobody's in the room.

A total stranger comes in and he's using words

like forgiveness and sinner.

And I say, "I feel like I'm at the top of the sinner list

because I was drinking and driving, and I lost my dad."

I said a prayer to receive God.

I received Jesus.

I admitted I was a sinner, and I wanted Him in my life.

And, Gordon, it was like-- it was like, bam!

It was like the Holy Spirit just connected to my soul.

It was like I just exhaled all that guilt. And then he left,

and my wife--

Did you ever find out who he was?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, but my wife walked in and saw

a completely different person.

I turned and looked at her, and I said, "Hey, hon, I just

accepted Jesus in my life."

A lot of people have trouble forgiving themselves

when they go through things and then you--

and you start saying, "I knew better.

I knew not to do that.

I did it anyway."

And how did you forgive yourself?

You know, I think, for me, I would

say you got to look to the power of the Holy Spirit

because, for me, it was all that.

It's like He came and found me, and so I had

this physical transformation.

But it was the power of the Holy Spirit,

so I would say the answer your question,

it was the power of Holy Spirit.

Now, to be fair, I also receive forgiveness from my mom

and my brothers and my sisters as well.

So that was powerful.

That's a miracle too.

That was a miracle.

And, for me, the reality was the strength

that I had now that I had this relationship with Jesus

Christ was completely different now

that I was in a different spot than I was before.

So I think you have to go look at yourself, get on your knees,

pray, and ask for that power.

It's hard.

I understand getting forgiveness,

for a lot of people, is hard.

But I think you got to look to the cross

if you want to really--

really get there.

Right, and let him do it.

Let Him do it.

Let Him do it.

If you try to do it in your own strength,

you're not going to get there.

I don't think you're going to get there.

You need a miracle, and you need Him to do it through you.

And you get strength, and you get peace.

You know, I-- when I was going through this trial,

I was-- it was a nightmare for me because I was guilty.

The trial took like seven months.

And I had given up my life--

given my life to the Lord in that hospital,

but when I was in the trial, I'm like,

I'm going to go to prison for four years.

I'm going to lose my life.

I'm going to lose my job, you know?

I was just like spiraling out of control

and so I started reading the word and-- for the first time

in my life.

And I remember reading Philippians, you know,

chapter 4 verses 6 and 7.

It starts with "don't worry about anything."

I'm like, whoa, Lord.

I'm worried about everything.

Don't you understand?

I'm worried, you know?

Don't worry about anything.

I've plenty to worry about.

I've got plenty to worry about.

"Don't worry about anything.

Instead, pray about everything.

When you do this, you experience God's peace

which is far more wonderful than the human mind understands."

And I received peace.

And what that meant was I could sleep,

so I could get up and fight for my life, and meet my lawyers,

and go to work as I was going through this crazy time.

So I had-- I really surrendered my life at that point.

I'd given my life to Christ in the hospital,

but, at this point, I was surrendering my life.

And there is an unbelievable amount of power and peace

that comes along with that.

Right, there is.

And when you say, "God, I trust you with my future."

I was guilty.

I'm like, I'm in the court system.


It's up to you now.

To me-- to me, I had nowhere else to go.

So what happened.

I ended up getting sentenced to six months, and I actually--

the company I was working for at the time, Lawson, had an event.

I missed the first day.

I missed the first night.

I may-- missed the second day, and I showed up,

and I walked up the stage.

And it was 300 people in the audience,

and I got a standing ovation.

One of the highlights of my business career because people

are seeing me for the first time, and I was like on a cane,

but it looked like I was healed.

And I got up to the microphone, after the standing ovation,

and I felt like saying, yesterday, I

was sentenced to six months in jail, 10 years probation.

What kind of roller coaster ride are you on?

Standing ovation, going to jail.

The difference is I have a foundation now

to deal with this, deal with the roller coaster ride of life.

We're all going to have some highs.

We're all going to have some lows.

But where are you going for your power?

Where are you going for your peace?

Where are you going for your wisdom,

both for the humility of the highs,

and the challenges of lows?

So I got six months and 10 years.


You then went on to make some bold choices

that you write about that led to, by all accounts,

an incredible success.

What would you say is the most important choice you made?

I think, for me, it was having clarity.

In it-- well, the most important choice

was accepting Jesus in my life, but in addition

to that, was having clarity.

What do you want to do?

Where do you want to go?

How do you want to be defined?

I did not want to be defined by my worst moment.

I wanted to be defined by something else.

And so the issue was I spent very little time

looking backwards, and I was mainly looking forward.

And I describe I have a small rear view mirror,

and I have a giant windshield.

And I can't tell you how many people

would tell me, you can't do that, you can't

do that, you can't do that.

And I spent no time listening to them.

And it was all just, where do I want to go

and what do I want to accomplish and how do I

go about doing that?

So having that clarity which forces you to prioritize,

keep the important things important,

and what do you say no to, becomes extremely important.

Right, but when you have the clarity, it gets easy to say,


You say, this isn't part of the agenda.

I want to talk about the book.

It's called "Five Bold Choices--

Rise Above Your Circumstances and Redefine Your Life."

It's available wherever books are sold.

We'll have more on this.

There's a web exclusive interview

with Jay on our Facebook page.

All you have to do is go to and then,

on Monday, there will be an interview with Jay on 700 Club




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