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Finding the Energy to Defeat Cancer – Purpose

Posted by Douglas A Wick on Thu, Oct 10, 2013

Almost two years ago I sat in a hospital room with my wife, my oldest son, and Dr Zenk.  Dr. Zenk gave me the news that I had Acute Myeloid Leukemia.  He was as direct as he could possibly be.  He explained that I would need chemotherapy treatment and if successful a bone marrow transplant.  He noted that typically patients who undergo this type of treatment are out of work a year or more.   purpose resized 600He didn’t need to explain that treatment would be expensive. The thought of being out of work for a year, as the sole wage earner for my family, set me back.  How would my family survive?  How would I feel knowing the impossible challenge I’d just put my family in? I was devastated! I cannot recall ever feeling so low. 

When Dr. Zenk left the room I recall saying out loud, “why don’t they just shoot me now?”   I felt utterly hopeless.  With no idea how much the treatment would cost and how much my insurance would cover the future looked bleak.   I was ready to give up!  After hearing me ramble for some time about my predicament, feeling discouraged and absolutely devastated, Joshua my son spoke up, “Dad, giving up would be so out of character with everything you’ve taught us, and how you brought us up.  I can’t even believe you are saying it!”

Recalling his words now I know they jolted me back to reality.  What he said made me recognize the depths of selfish self-pity that I’d fallen captive to.  Sure I was concerned about my family, but I was also in despair over what it would mean to me.  It was much easier to give up, give in, then to work to overcome this and find a solution to get healthy and keep my family secure.  

At the time I had no idea how many friends would come to our aid.  I had no idea how our insurance company, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Iowa would take care of most of our hospital bills and treatments.  I had no idea how strong Michelle would be and how powerful her support and protection would uplift me.  Those events and relationships would pull together to help provide a solution to my desperate health issues. 

It’s been a long road since that day.  I’m still not fully recovered, as my immune system remains below normal levels, yet each day moves me closer to full recovery and living close to a normal life again. 

Had I not had a purpose, the conflict my son created in me from what I taught and how I was acting, I would not be where I am today.  My response immediately to my cancer was not in line with my values.  The love for my family, the desire to provide them with security and the courage to fight to live for this purpose inspired me to defeat my cancer.  Somewhere within me I found the will to overcome my condition and find a solution to get well.  Without purpose it would have been hopeless.

For almost 40 years I can recall wanting to discover my purpose.  I worked on it constantly, yet never could understand what my inner drive was, nor could I discover how to put it on paper.   The closest I’d come was utilizing several questions that Dr Wayne Dyer offered in one of his Nightingale Conant tape series.  Finally at 40, attending a coaches training conference at the E-Myth Academy in California I followed their formula combined with those questions I’d received from Wayne Dyer.  I discovered my Primary Aim. 

The Power of Full Engagement’s formula for making changes that endure is a three step process:

  1. Define Purpose
  2. Face the Truth
  3. Take Action

Our first challenge is to answer the question “How should I spend my energy in a way that is consistent with my deepest values?”

Most of us spend more time reacting to immediate crises and responding to the expectations of others than we do making choices guided by a clear sense of what matters most.

Connecting to a deep set of values and creating a compelling vision fuels a uniquely high-octane source of energy for change. It also serves as a compass for navigating the storms that inevitably arise in our lives.

It is impossible to chart a course of change until you are able to look honestly at who you are today.

Face the Truth, asks “How are you spending your energy now?” Each of us finds ways to avoid the most unpleasant and discomforting truths in our lives. We regularly underestimate the consequences of our energy management choices, failing to honestly acknowledge the foods we are eating; how much alcohol we are consuming; what quality of energy we are investing in our relationships with our bosses, colleagues, spouses and children; and how focused and passionate we really are at work. Too often, we view our lives through rose-colored glasses, painting ourselves as victims, or simply denying to ourselves that the choices we are making are having a consequential impact on the quantity, quality, force and focus of our energy.

Facing the truth begins with gathering credible data. When clients come to Energy Project, they take them through a variety of physical tests, carefully assess their diets, and give them a detailed questionnaire designed to measure precisely how they are managing their energy physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

You can take a brief version of their Full Engagement Inventory free. The scores you receive provide baseline data about your primary performance barriers.  You’ve thus begun the “Face the truth” portion of the three steps.

The third step in your change process is to Take Action to close the gap between who you are and who you want to be—between how you manage your energy now and how you want to manage your energy to achieve whatever mission you are on. This step involves building a personal-development plan grounded in positive energy rituals. Some of your existing habits serve you well, but others are more expedient. They help you get through the day, but take a long-term toll on your performance, health and happiness. Examples include relying on junk food for bursts of energy; smoking or drinking to manage anxiety; furiously multitasking to meet demands; setting aside more challenging, long-term projects in favor of what feels immediately pressing and easier to accomplish, and devoting little energy to personal relationships. The costs of these choices and many others only show up over time.

Positive ones can be uplifting and revitalizing. It is possible to build and sustain energy in all dimensions of our lives rather than watching passively as our capacities slowly diminish with age. Building rituals requires defining very precise behaviors and performing them at very specific times—motivated by deeply held values.

Aristotle said, “We are what we repeatedly do.”   The Dalai Lama more recently offered, “There isn’t anything that isn’t made easier through constant familiarity and training. Through training we can change; we can transform ourselves.”

Are interested in learning more about my journey and how I developed my purpose visit Purpose +Action/Success to hear my short 15 minute interview with Ted Sarvata.  If you’d like help crafting your company’s purpose email me or register now to attend The Mastering the Rockefeller Habits Four Decisions Workshop, November 12th

Topics: Acute Myeloid Luekemia, employee engagement, employee performance, Core Purpose, Bone Marrow Transplant, The Power of Full Engagement, Michelle Wick

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Doug Wick, President

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The Strategic Discipline Blog focuses on midsize business owners with a ravenous appetite to improve his or her leadership skills and business results.

Our 3 disciplines include:

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