If it’s true “Success is not measured by the heights one attains, but by the obstacles one overcomes in its attainment.” (Booker T Washington) then certainly the past year has been successful for me.
Just one year ago on this date I sat in a hospital room and heard the news that I had Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The emotions and feelings that ran through me that day and the next several overwhelmed me. My gravest fear was for my family. The doctor who told me the news indicated I wouldn’t be able to work for a year or more if I survived treatment. That presupposed I would be able to get my cancer in remission. Alone this felt like a death warrant.
How would my family survive without my income? What would the costs of insurance be? I would be lying if I didn’t tell you one my first thought was get this over with quick and die so I wouldn’t burden my family and put them into so much debt that they will be laden with a weight they could never overcome. I believe I said to the doctor, “why don’t you just shoot me now?”
Early the next morning, not being able to sleep, Michelle and I texted back and forth. I recall crying uncontrollably many times. The unforeseen future loomed. I felt miserable for what I was making my family endure. The possible personal suffering couldn’t compare to what they would go through with the enormous burden of my cancer bills.
One year later I’m not fully removed from my challenge, however I am well beyond the selfish-self-pity stage. I’ve learned much in the interim. One is how often I would get into a selfish-self-pity state and ruin my joy for life and those around me. I’m still fall into lapses where I indulge in self-pity; however I feel I’ve made marked improvement.
I’ve learned how enormously powerful friendship is. I’ve learned how wonderfully selfless and generous people are. I’ve learned how enormously beautiful my wife is on the inside, and how forgiving and selfless she is. I’ve learned that if you have faith and act on it you can live a miracle. I’ve learned that through meditation and prayer, God listens and I can have a relationship with Him and live each day closer to being the person I am meant to be. I’ve learned to re-engineer my life’s purpose and discover a clearer mission for myself. I’ve learned that despite challenging health conditions with the support of caring and understanding clients one can actually work through 7 chemotherapies and a Bone Marrow Transplant. I’m not back to work publicly like Robin Roberts yet, but I’ve never stopped working through the entire challenge. I’ve missed one day of business meetings, despite all the setbacks and treatments I’ve received. I’m proud of that; however it wouldn’t have been possible without the flexibility, compassion, empathy and willingness of my customers.
I’ve learned how powerful discipline is, and especially how powerful the forces that drive Positioning Systems principles of Strategic Discipline can be in achieving success.
Perhaps that’s one of the most powerful rewards from this experience I’ve received. The conviction, faith, and absolute certainty I have in these three disciplines: Priorities, Metrics and Meetings are beyond reproach. It’s an absolute that these disciplined principles work and are a necessity in your personal life and business in order to achieve lasting success.
A year seemed like a long time when Dr. Zenk told me of my AML cancer diagnosis. In truth my journey is already longer. I’m still not quite 6 months from my bone marrow transplant (September 5th). It may be another six months before I’m able to be out publicly much the way Robin Roberts is now able to get back on the set of ABC’s Good Morning America. My immune system is still not fully recovered.
Recent events tell me just how limited or far along I am. I’ve gained about 30 pounds in the past 3 weeks. This after having lost 15 pounds immediately around Christmas. I’m retaining water due to the medications I’m on and the effects of GVHD. It’s discouraging to have felt so good about your weight at one moment and then just in the course of 2-3 weeks feel like a complete slob and have trouble navigating steps due to my ankles and feet are so swollen. I feel like Tim Allen in The Santa Clause. My digestive system is often too active. The balls of my feet remain tingly and feel insensitive to the floor when I walk. Not being able to go out to eat or socialize without wearing a mask is troublesome, yet hardly the biggest challenge. Being very aware of whatever I touch and who I am around is a burden that requires constant attention. The frequency doctor visits and lab appointments have diminished which is a blessing.
This past Wednesday was a very important benchmark in my progress. It’s almost six months since my bone marrow transplant and the doctors are looking for a number of very specific results that will point to my recovery. These include the percentage of my donor’s blood that is present and the absence of the Mono Somy 7, the chromosome that wasn’t present in my Leukemia which made my specific case so difficult to treat.
While I’ve been able to see some of the results so far, and they look promising, I’ve not heard from the University of Iowa yet. My appointment this Wednesday should give me a clear vision of how far I’ve come and how favorable my outlook is.
Since last year’s diagnosis I’ve charted my results with a combination of charts and dashboards that focused on what leading and lagging indicators are important to my health, and recovery process. I’ve been fortunate to have a great team of doctors, nurses, family and friends that supported me. The responsibility is still mine.
You and your people need to be responsible for producing the results your business needs. Do you feel you have the metrics and dashboards in place that make your people responsible for achieving the outcomes that your business demands? Would you bet your life on it?
Several of my clients have recently worked on a Strategy Statement to achieve clarity. Next blog we explore the value of a Strategy Statement and its elements to make it effective.