The early days of my recovery were challenging, to say the least.
I didn’t realize it then, but my biggest roadblock to healing my body was my belief system. My lattice of worry and doubt kept me stuck in a limiting mindset.
Fortunately, many people energetically contributed to my recovery. They already knew something that I had to discover for myself: That my beliefs were limiting my potential. I had to learn that I was ultimately the leader of my recovery.
While I could write for days about my wife’s efforts during my recovery, today, I’m going to focus on three points that were pivotal to my transformation: Effort, Energy, and Emotion.
Effort: On July 11, 2001—the day of my accident—my life was largely in the hands of the trauma team at the University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. That team of professionals brilliantly executed their roles and objectives.
It was the ultimate cross-functional team success-story. Every member of the trauma team knew his or her role: The nurse didn’t attempt to administer anesthesia; the anesthesiologist didn’t focus on the MRI; the radiologist didn’t try to fix my femurs; and the orthopedic surgeon didn’t try to fix my vascular tear. Each person was clear on his or her role, yet, they depended on each other for success. Which, in my case, was defined by two key objectives: saving my life and helping me regain normal functionality. In short, they were focused. They were ALL IN.
Energy: Why do leaders and companies continue to struggle with developing consistently high-performing, energetic cultures? After all, close to $70B is spent annually on leadership development. I believe this challenge, at least in part, lies in their inability to “walk the talk.”
During my rehabilitation, the president and CEO of my then-employer would unexpectedly visit me.
He delivered the first book, post accident, that I had the energy and focus to finish, a ball cap from my beloved Toronto Blue Jays, and he even stayed to watch me make a batch of the best-tasting, worst looking chocolate chip cookies ever. By the way, I’m taking some literary license on the best tasting part.
He walked the talk. When he stated that the company’s employees were his top priority, his energy backed it up. His acts of kindness may have seemed minor, but they were major in establishing the culture he desired—and they were seminal in my growth as a leader.
He ran a highly successful company, yet, he managed to find time to come to the rehab center; his visits demonstrated that the company’s values would not be segregated to some plaque, slide, or brochure. Rather, they would be walked energetically.
Emotion: Thirteen months after my accident, I still hadn’t been back on my bike. My reluctance was due to fear. Namely, coming face to face with how much more recovery I needed, as well as my potential reaction to riding in traffic.
Then one morning during a physical therapy session, my therapist pushed my buttons by declaring that it was time for me to get back on my bike. If I didn’t ride that weekend, I couldn’t come back to physical therapy. I wasn’t thrilled.
So, on the morning on Aug. 10, 2012, my wife, my daughters, and I anxiously drove to a small industrial park in Rockleigh, New Jersey, for a test ride.
I started slowly as first. My pedaling was choppy at best. Yet, the joy I felt more than compensated for my limitations. With some newly acquired confidence, I decided to leave the industrial park to ride on the main street.
Within a half-mile, my second fear was tested. A Ford Expedition was rapidly approaching from behind. As it closed in and prepared to pass me, my grip on the handlebars tensed and I held my breath.
In a moment, the truck passed, along with my fear, and traveled out of view. New possibilities emerged.
At first, I wasn’t happy with my physical therapist’s challenge, but her plan worked. She, like other great leaders, was able to see a path forward that I was unable (or unwilling) to see. She could see what was possible once I rode past my fear. What would be possible in your life without fear?
There were many days early in my recovery and transformation when I was unable to see any possibilities. However, after I changed my beliefs and began defining myself by how I recovered rather than by what had happen to me, I understood that energetic, connected effort could transform emotions and ultimately, lives.
It took a lucky-to-be-alive event for me to fully appreciate how our beliefs and connected effort change our lives. Fortunately, you don’t have to go my extreme. In my next post, I will reflect the on celebration of successes and setbacks that led to my transformation.
Are you ready to change your story at work? Are you ready to become more aware of your beliefs and how they can help you become a more energetic and connected leader? Contact me to discuss how I can help you become your B.E.S.T.