Great relationships are resilient. They ebb and flow. Time passes. But the most meaningful one’s can quickly come back to center. I am lucky to have some real authentic relationships like that. I count my friendship with Brian among them and that is why it was so great to catch up last night over dinner while he was passing through Minneapolis on business. Although the years had passed, last night it was like we hadn’t lost a step. Lots of reminiscing, reflection and laughter. And a few life lessons worth sharing.
Brian was my after college roommate. We lived in Cincinnati, OH and were pretty inseparable. Flag football, softball and basketball leagues, road trips and a few hazy weekends. I encouraged Brian to ditch the accounting career and get into professional sales. He did. And became a raging success. Sellers that are genuine, unselfish, and put other peoples needs ahead of their own have several legs up. That’s Brian. No surprise that today he is running his own growing/thriving media business. He is one of those guys that makes success happen. Works real hard at it. And success for him isn’t all about the business. It’s about the balance. He has a wonderful wife and 3 adorable children. Success is fulfillment. Its an approach. A philosophy on life. And that philosophy is his foundation to take great pleasure in the good and face up to the inevitable challenges that are part of living.
Brian had (and still does) the world in the palm of his hand. Great life. One of those guys that other people love to be around. Centered. You could call him lucky. Or, realize he works hard to make his own luck. But there was no luck in the medical news he received 3 months ago about the tumor on his brain that required immediate surgery. There were great risks to that kind of surgery. It was very delicate. And he might not be the same. But it was the only decision. You could call that really unfair. Say it just doesn’t make sense. Ask why? Brian never did.
Last night he shared with me that getting the news was a real tough day. His life changed. He knew that. And he gave himself 15 minutes – from the doctor’s office to his home to be angry, feel sorry for himself, ask why…..and when he pulled up into his driveway and prepared to walk into his house and see is family he turned on the switch to turning his approach and attitude into something positive. The next couple weeks were all about about preparing for surgery. The workouts to fine tune his body. The education to prepare to deal with what might happen next. The mind space to know this wasn’t his time – he had things left to accomplish.
He has brought that same attitude to his recovery. The pain meds stayed in the hospital. No drugs to dull his mind and numb his body to the reality of his recovery. He was on the fast track – like he said to me last night, “I had a business to run, a family raise and a life to live”……the surgery was by all accounts a success. He lost his hearing in his left ear which effects his balance but you’d never know it. We were in a restaurant that was a bit noisy last night and I could see him sitting across from me laser focused on what I was saying. Intense concentration. I realized soon, he was reading my lips. Adapting. Adjusting. Improvising.
He is back in the gym, back on the road and back to living the life he loves. He shared with me how the experience has renewed important relationships for him. Brought him closer to the people he loves. How the worst situation is becoming a positive event. He told me that he has gained so much from the whole experience. Yes, he had to give up some things. But he doesn’t take his new perspective for granted.
Brian is special. So is his outlook on life. But a big take away from last night was about his choices. He could have complained, been angry at the world or felt sorry for himself. Bad choice. For himself. For the people counting on him. Choosing his attitude is part of his DNA. But even he realizes it was a real conscious choice. He is getting involved in patient advocacy now. Wants to volunteer time to support others who are facing the same life altering obstacles. I couldn’t imagine someone better equipped to offer that kind of coaching and counsel.
We also chatted a bit about fear and regret. What are the things that hold us back from doing the things we want in life? Strong consensus that its better to take some calculated risks, to try, learn by doing…..to conquer those fears and come out on the other side. It usually ends up being different then you might expect….but that is a whole lot better than always playing the safe move and living with regret.
Whatever comes your way, realize you have choices. And even when its hard, its probably not brain surgery. But when it is (or worse) we could all take a page from Brian’s playbook. He has the approach and outlook nailed. Its all about PERSPECTIVE.
Last night was a gift for me. Thanks B.
Ryan Estis is a Keynote Speaker & Management Consultant blogging about business performance.