Sometimes it takes a tremendous fall to know where you stand.
I am thrilled to be back in touch with our tremendous tribe after the past month and a half. The month of October was one of the most challenging and blessed months of my entire life. I can scarcely believe what transpired during the course of those 31 days, and I am excited to share with you what I learned.
In the best-seller, Life is Tremendous, Charlie "Tremendous" Jones opens by proclaiming that leadership is nothing more than really LIVING. We throw this word leadership around like it's for a select few or that leadership is the responsibility of those at the top. The fact is leadership is all about excellently living life and, as in typical life fashion, I was allowed to live a month as I have never lived before.
October began with an unplanned surgery for a detached retina identified at my eye check-up the week prior. I had been keeping an eye on a few flashers and some floaters. Still, when the eye doctor told me I need emergency surgery, I was literally blindsided. To make matters worse, October is typically a busy month for speakers which entailed air travel to different engagements. I also needed to complete my final dissertation for my Ph.D. if I was to graduate in December. Throw in the fact that my angel mother was fading fast with congestive heart failure, and you can see how things began stacking up.
‘Okay, think positive. Let's take this one day at a time.’
The surgery was supposed to entail a scleral buckle that had minimal downtime. Only in rare instances did the detached retina require a nitrous bubble, known as vitreoretinal surgery, to correct the problem. Coming out of operation, the doctor informed me my eyewall was too weak for the buckle. I was the proud recipient of a gas bubble, grounded from flying and restricted from most other activities, as well. I was scheduled to fly to San Diego the following day and to Clearwater, FL, and Ames, IO, the last week of the month. The recovery entailed lying face down for three weeks until the retina reattached.
I went home that evening, broken-hearted. I was so limited in my mobility, I was unable even to devise a solution. But when you reach the end of your rope, that's when you find hope!
Hope is a funny thing. As long as you have arrows in your quiver, you never really get to experience hope. For the first time in my life, I was powerless to make anything that needed to happen, happen.
And you know what? It was tremendous. My father cited three things you need to do to engage in leadership, also known as the art of really learning to live!
First, you must be learning to say something positive to everybody all the time.
After spending the first night laying facedown, I got up to go to see the retina specialist the following day. He had warned me that when I saw him, he would not be my best friend. He was right. However, I needed to remain positive. Snapping at him or complaining sure wouldn't have helped me heal. He checked out my eye and announced the bubble was precisely where it needed to be, and I did not have to lay face down for three weeks. He did recommend I sleep on my right side to ensure the bubble stayed where it needed to be. Compared to attempting to get any work done while at the same time remaining in a face-down position, this sounded like a cakewalk!
Second, be learning to see something positive in everything that happens.
Second, I had to let the tremendous folks at the American College know that I was unable to fly to San Diego because of the gas bubble in my eye and altitude implications. I am a new board member with the Penn Mutual Center for Veteran’s Affairs and hated to let my comrades down. I was scheduled to do an Ethics Course, which entailed a great deal of paperwork to get certified for continuing education (CE) credits. I had recently decided to pursue developing a podcast, so I quickly ordered lighting, a backdrop, microphone, and camera, and proceeded to work with the event planners to conduct the training via a Zoom call.
I even got to sport an eye patch for two weeks and looked just like my father! The bubble dissipated on October 20, and I was able to fly and speak at my two events at the end of the month as scheduled.
Third, you must be learning to See It Big and Keep It Simple.
Finally, when I got the prognosis on my health issue, I cleared everything off my calendar. There is nothing that should ever stand in the way of your health. I took a break from the books because my eyes needed it. Stopping my research and editing was difficult because I knew I had a deadline to meet for my dissertation. However, my health had to take priority. I was also able to put everything on hold while I spent time with my dear mother every day. I even had the blessing of being by her side and holding her hand when she departed this earth on October 14th for her heavenly home. Events beyond my control cleared my schedule, and I got to spend extra time with her in the end.
One final lesson I learned: When your timeline gets jacked up because priorities have shifted, let it go.
All I knew is that I had a profound sense that any time I "lost" by having to focus on these critical life issues, would be redeemed. And it sure was. That's the power of hope. I also had the power of prayers and positivity from thousands of you, lifting me for strength, peace, and comfort. And I got to cry my tears of loss, and celebrate tears of joy, while my eye continued to heal, even managing to submit my final dissertation revision and stay on track for a December 13th graduation.
Sometimes it takes a tremendous fall to let you know where you stand. I faced the worst of situations and life events and saw them transformed into unspeakable joys and triumphs. That, my dear friends, is leadership. What a relief to know it's not about what happens to us, but only about how we respond.
By the way, my newest title SPARK: Five Essentials to Igniting the Greatness Within is set to enter the first round of edits by the end of the week. This latest release includes my doctoral research which centered on the key to self-motivation. Check out the pre-release bundle here and get your free copy of the motivational classic, The Secret of Success!
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