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It is very humbling when someone tells you that you inspire them. Through my public speaking engagements I’m often told how I inspire others to live a better,fuller, and more inspired life. That makes me feel empowered to continue my efforts to share my story with others. What they don’t know is that I am… Read more.
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We have all heard the phrase ”weathering the storm.” But what does it really mean and what tools do you use to weather the storm? The storms in your life may be big or small. Some of the storms may be just a part of life, and yet, we may bring some of those storms… Read more.
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As many of you know I spent many years in the pharmaceutical world. One of the disease states I spent a lot of my time in was Alzheimer’s disease. If you have ever had a family member who was afflicted with this disease you know how devastating it is to witness. Just as important but… Read more.
Needless to say I have had more time on my hands recently. Daytime can get boring, but I have found a new television show to watch called “Surviving the Cut” on the Discovery Channel. Thankfully, my older sons introduced me to this show. The premise of the show is soldiers who want to be considered the best of the best and it takes you through the training and sacrifices they do to become Navy Seals, Night Rangers, Elite Marksmen, etc. Not all of them make it but certain traits seem to always stand out for those who do. These include determination, perseverance, desire, and will, among many others. But two qualities always seem to stand out: Mental Toughness to overcome anything and Teamwork. These two qualities seem to propel those who survive the rigors to make the cut over those who don’t. I have seen some of the physically strongest soldiers fail because they did not have the mental toughness some of the physically weaker soldiers possessed. It is also obvious how teamwork superseded the individual. In the military, the team or unit will never leave a soldier behind and will always be there to help the individual to overcome things that perhaps he/she couldn’t do alone. I have soon realized how similar this is to my life now.
Today I am in the Mental Toughness battle of my life. If you see me, no doubt you will notice the physical changes that have occurred and will continue to occur as time goes on. Just like soldiers who are challenged physically beyond what they think they can endure, the question is will I have the mental toughness to overcome? Trust me there are many times I want to give up. Shaving, showering, and getting dressed are exhausting every morning. I have to throw a towel on the bed just so I can bend over and dry my hair because the towel is too heavy to lift. I won’t go into eating but you can guess how hard that has become. I could go on and on about the little things that come so easy to many have become so difficult. This is where the mental toughness comes in. Less than a few years ago my life was fairly normal; heck I was still playing adult ice hockey. It would be easy to give up, but I refuse. I would be letting down myself, my children and my God. As a father, husband, and Christian, I still have plenty of work to do here. Don’t get me wrong, I have my moments but then something or someone does something to pick me up and get me refocused. This brings me to teamwork.
I have noticed that the best leaders and most successful people in life surround themselves with the best people; the best team if you will. In the military, a battle may be lost but in the long haul the war will be won by the best team. Thankfully, I have surrounded myself with the best people to make my team. I know I have a difficult battle ahead of me but if I fall someone will be there to pick me up. I have acquired a team of people who will drop everything to help me or my family when needed. It can be a humbling feeling to call someone to come change some light bulbs, but I have learned I have a team in place to do just that. I am one of the lucky ones. Many people are facing battles like mine alone. Those are the people I pray for and hope to help.
Here is my challenge for you: If you know someone struggling in life, be a part of the team that will help when they fall. If you are facing a difficult challenge, surround yourself with the most positive people you can to help you when you feel like giving up. We all can and deserve to survive the Cut but it starts and ends with Mental Toughness and Teamwork. Combine those two traits and we all will be Surviving the Cut!
This can be a simple question to some but a deep question to many others. As I said in my previous blog it starts and ends with Faith for me. Without faith how can you have hope, and without hope how can you live your life no matter what you are facing.
That kind of brings me to acceptance and denial. For a while I denied what I had and hoped it was something else. Eventually I had to accept this diagnosis to continue to live my life. Some may believe that if you accept something difficult you lose the ability to have hope. Nothing could be more false. I went from denial and hoping for a different diagnosis to acceptance and hope for a cure or a difference maker in the medical field. Little did I know something would happen this week? For the first time ever a doctor has discovered a cause for all forms of ALS. It is hard to fix something very complex when you don’t know how it broke. Now the hope has shifted again for the difference makers in the medical field to discover a medicine to attack the problem and slow down or hopefully find a cure for all those suffering with ALS.
As a parent I have many hopes for my kids but health and happiness are at the top of the list. I can’t imagine what it is like to hear that your child has a terminal illness no matter the age. My mom is 83 and I can see the worry in her eyes and feel the heartache she has for me. I also know this has added additional stress to her which isn’t healthy for anyone. This new news brought new hope to her that maybe something could be done to help her son.
I don’t know if they will discover anything soon enough to help me but I hope so. I don’t know what my children will grow up to be but I hope it makes them happy. I have many hopes but most of all I have faith. My hope is that all your hopes and dreams come true and no matter what you are facing. Never lose hope in what may seem impossible there are many difference makers in this world.
Have you ever thought about what your role is in life? Well I have lately mainly because I thought I knew it and then ALS came along and I lost my identity. My dad always said find something you’re good at and something you would do for free then make it a career and you will never have a “job” the rest of your life. Funny how I am giving these same lessons to my oldest boys now.
When I was young I wanted to be a professional bowler. It was something I was good at even winning a state championship at thirteen. That faded because I became a drummer and wanted to be the next Neil Peart of Rush. That dream never faded by the way, it just never came true. Eventually I graduated from college and found my way into sales. That is where I found my niche in life. Not just any sales but the pharmaceutical field where perhaps what I did could help someone else.
I will never forget the first time I met a patient who told me the medicine I represented changed their life. I felt like a true difference maker. What I loved about my job were the daily interactions I had with people. I love people and those interpersonal relationships were what I cared and enjoyed the most about my job. And because of that I made people smile, laugh, open up, and helped a lot of sick people feel better. I also made a good living and provided for my family.
I hoped to be a difference maker for my wife Susan but each day I become more dependent on her. That was not part of the plan and I struggle with this daily. I strive and hope to be difference makers in my children’s eyes through the examples I try to set on being a husband, father, and friend to them all. My struggle is finding that identity in an ALS world and that is a work in progress.
One thing I do enjoy is working with the ALS chapter in Milwaukee. Their work and dedication to this cause is inspiring. People like them are the difference makers who will eventually help lead us to a cure for this horrible disease. People who work with kids are huge difference makers. Teachers, church youth group leaders, coaches, they all make impressions on our children. One of the finest women I know runs a summer camp where my kids go. I have never seen more smiling happy faces on kids than the times I spent helping out at the camp witnessing the memories she creates for them. She is a difference maker. There are many examples I can think of but the point is there are many out there and all of us can be a difference maker in the world we live in.
If you have ALS like me you realize that life as you know it is gone and we are now living in the “new normal.” The part of my life I got the greatest enjoyment from, daily personal interactions, are now pretty much gone. As I struggle to discover my new identity, I know that just as in the past, being a difference maker will be an integral
part of the “new normal.”