I am working on a book titled “30 Days to Die, The Rest of My Life to Live” as it describes my journey during the 30 days between finding out I would have open heart surgery and my actual surgical date.
For those of you who don’t know, I am undergoing open heart surgery in August to fix a congenital defect and resultant aortic issue. Ever since I found out, I have been journaling my thoughts, feelings and experiences on a daily basis with the goal of helping inspire anyone going through a life crucible of their own.
During this time, I have been introspectively working to find out who I really am and how this heart condition actually is an advantage and opportunity for me in my life, not an embarrassment or sign of weakness. I am putting to rest my old self who denied it as a part of me and looking to give birth to a new me when I walk out of the hospital who is true to myself and works to pursue my own “why” in life to help others inspire those around them to do what they love and be great.
I am going to release two of the days here as a sort of preview but more importantly in order to ask for feedback from all of you reading this. I would love any feedback you would share. Check back next week for the second preview release. Thanks!
July 9th – Asking myself the right questions and power statements. Today was the first time I thought about living the rest of my life after surgery in concrete fashion. My friend was over helping me pack up our home for our move as we close on selling our house in 5 days. It was 95 degrees with typical July North Carolina humidity…not very pleasant if you catch my drift.
I made the joke to him that at least I wouldn’t have to do any of the unloading when we move into our new home in the middle of August since I would have chest precautions. We both laughed at the thought of me sitting in a chair directing people where to put our belongings while giving them a hard time as he walked out the door to put another box in the trailer.
When he left the house I stopped and stood in our family room for a second and put my right hand on the center of my chest with fingers spread apart; it was going to look and feel quite different when we were unloading the boxes on the other side. I was going to have an artificial valve and ascending aorta at that point. My anatomy was going to be quite different.
I started to think beyond how I wouldn’t be able to lift any of the boxes or furniture. I thought about how I wouldn’t be able to pick up my 40lb son when he comes running at me to jump and hug me. I thought about not being able to put my daughter or son over my head or throw them up into the air and catch them as I recover. I started going down a rabbit hole of negative thought and weak questions that I have done a number of times during this process, but, for the first time I stopped myself in that moment.
My thinking needed to change right here and now as well as going forward if I was going to be the man and leader I want to be. My anatomy may be different when I am out of surgery but I promised myself that my thinking was also going to be quite different.
Every day I wake up and write in a journal. I write down three things I am grateful for at that moment as well as a power statement for the day. For today, my power statement was “In God, I can do anything.” At this moment of weak thought and focus on the things I wouldn’t be able to do, I, for the first time, used my power statement the way it is supposed to be used. I used it to stop my weak thoughts and shift my focus to a powerful and empowering question.
“How can I make this experience awesome and improve something and/or someone?”
“How can I use what I am going through or what I am experiencing to add amazing value to someone else’s life that will in turn add value to my own?”
I started to think about moving differently. I may not be able to help carry everything, but I sure as heck can take the lead on helping to organize the new home and direct where different things will go. My wife is an amazing woman but organization is not one of her strengths, she will confirm this I promise. I could add long term value to our home life by making sure everything was organized from the get go at the new home. This would decrease the amount of clutter which is a stressor for my wife and therefore improve our quality of life in the new home.
I realized I could use this opportunity to work on helping her set up the organization of the home and where we would be storing and keeping all of our belongings as they came in. This gave me a feeling of ability to contribute on move in day after surgery. I just had to shift my idea of contributing away from lugging in all the heavy stuff. I could still contribute, just in a different way.
Yes, this all happened in about a 25 second period of time and my hand was still on my chest. At this point my friend came back in and saw me with my hand on my chest. He is aware of the surgery upcoming and my situation so naturally he asked me “are you OK?”
I answered “Oh ya, I am great.”
He shrugged and moved on to the next box having no idea of the amazing 25 second experience I just had. I was so proud of myself for stopping those thoughts and turning them on their head.
Anyone going through a challenging period in their life needs to have a power statement or positive self affirmation that they can use when those weak questions start firing. Something like “I can do this” or “I am amazing, I am capable and I am strong.” Anything really. It just needs to be something that you can use to cue yourself to redirect your thoughts when you find yourself in a position I was in. A position where you are asking yourself the wrong questions, weak questions. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Etc.
Use your power statement to turn those questions upside down and empower yourself to do something great. Do something that adds value to your life through adding value to others. This is a powerful tennant in business as well as your personal life. The ability to do this is a character trait of all great leaders.
If I can do it, anyone can do it…it’s hard as hell and takes a ton of practice and failures to finally do it, but you can. I know you can because we are all capable, strong and amazing people who have gifts and human experiences that make us uniquely equipped to handle any situation if we are able to create the right mindset and environment for empowering questions.