You may have heard the story on how trainers get an elephant to remain tied to a stake. Even though an elephant has enough strength to easily remove the stake, due to the training received when they are young they’re unable to realize they can get free. View the video on the right for the full story.
A week ago on Wednesday at the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics I received encouraging news. I can now travel by air. (With several precautionary measures) They also moved my next clinic appointment out to two months. It is good to feel I have more freedom of movement, yet with it comes more responsibility and of course more control over my actions.
It also means I need to get out of my comfort zone.
Many of us are tied to a stake of our own making. We are unable, or unwilling to get out of our comfort zone. Thus much of what we dream to achieve remains beyond our grasp.
Getting out of my comfort zone is one reason I returned to attend a Toastmasters meeting. Improving my speaking, communication and leadership capabilities is important to me as well as how I present myself to my customers and prospects.
Many times we need a motivational moment to get us to move out of our comfort zone.
June 14, 2012 was one of those moments for me. It was a point in my battle with Acute Myeloid Leukemia where five chemo therapy treatments had failed. The blast (Leukemia Cells) in my bone marrow held steady at 40% or better. To get to a bone marrow transplant it needed to be less than 10% to even be considered. Dr Carter at UIHC had run out of options. Clinical trials were all that were left. Another option was to move to another hospital, possibly one that specialized in cancer like MD Anderson in Houston, Texas or Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. Both locations friends of mine had a son and daughter working there that might help in getting me accepted for treatment. Michelle and I debated on what was the best strategy to take. Michelle knew better than I that the chances of my survival were slim to none.
Dr Carter allowed me out of the hospital while I considered treatment. While home we were regular visitors to the Cedar Rapids Physician Clinic where I received weekly infusions. While there on the 14th Dr. Begum, the doctor in charge of me at the clinic, called us in to her office. We discussed our choices for treatment with Michelle describing how grueling the treatments, travel, and fear had been so far. Perhaps in empathy for our situation and knowing the slim chances for survival Dr. Begum offered that at some point instead of going through the pain and suffering of finding a cure you give in to the outcome and live the rest of your days in peace with your family.
Michelle began to cry. Despite knowing the odds were against me, I don’t recall ever feeling that I wanted to give up. For some reason I never doubted that I would somehow beat it.
Dr. Begum’s comments, no matter how comforting they were intended upset me. They made me angry. If Michelle had not been with me I believe I would have bolted out of her office. It’s a moment in time I can still picture today. It strengthened my resolve, commitment, and intention to somehow get my AML in remission.
The unfortunate thing is that too often when we make a commitment like this, it lasts for the moment, yet it doesn’t have sticking power. It’s been nearly two years since that meeting and I must confess that while it carried me through to success with my cancer, it often can fade in the face of simple day to day activities.
That’s why habits are so critical. Developing a habit with a purpose provides us with resolve. Once the habit becomes automatic it’s difficult to change. That unfortunately is true for good or bad habits.
The principles of Strategic Discipline can be practiced for business or personal use. I discovered their power in my overcoming cancer. Yet without conscious choice, without making a decision to change and establish new habits you will remain stuck in your comfort zone.
Albert Einstein had a number of good quotes. Perhaps you’ve heard, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” Or, "There is nothing that is a more certain sign of insanity than to do the same thing over and over and expect the results to be different."
You are where you are because of your habits. Do you want better results? You need to change your habits, develop new ones with a resolve and determination greater than the comfort zone you are currently in.
This requires great discipline to begin. Once you’ve created the discipline of a habit, the resolve and commitment you made become much easier to follow. Is it time for you to get help creating the discipline to grow your business to the dream you had for it?
Last week three former pro football players from Sports World provided presentations to local schools on Making Good Choices. Their ability to do so is through the efforts of the networking group I belong to, Breakfast of Champions, and two people in particular, Wade Hiner and Paul Phelan, who secured sponsors for the event. They took over when I was unable to follow through after my cancer diagnosis. They’ve built it into something that is a model for other cities to follow and ensure children in our community hear a message that motivates them to make good choices as they proceed through life. The message these athlete’s offer is, You’re not born a winner or a loser, you’re born a chooser! Make good choices”
Michael Cobb, former USFL, NFL (Cincinnati Bengals, Chicago Bears) gave a presentation to students at Truman Elementary on the choices he and several of his friends made when he was just 16 years old that impacted them for the rest of their lives. That story and how critical decision-making is to your business next blog.