Two major events intersected for me at the same time recently, causing me to think about both in context of each other.  The first was an anniversary of mine; the second was a large corporate layoff close to me.  Both required toughness.

Exactly 17 years ago, I had been a first time father for two months and found myself in a very scary medical situation.  I had experienced migraine-like symptoms for the first time in my life, and just to make sure it was nothing, I had a CT scan.  I knew immediately something was wrong when the Doctor came back after the test more quickly than I was expecting.

“You have an AVM on your brain,” he stated to me.

I inquired, “Will I be OK?”

“They tend to bleed,” he replied in a matter-of-fact way.  “We must take care of it immediately.”

I can still hear those words exactly as he said them.

A whirlwind of appointments and consults later, I found myself getting radiation treatment, called Stereotactic Radiosurgery.  A halo was screwed into my skull, and I went through with it.  The aftermath was more difficult than the actual procedure.  With brain swelling comes steroids and follow-up appointments.  About five years later, I was given the all clear.  It had worked.  I guess that’s toughness.

Recently, I wrote about A Second Chance.  We all have our unique stories, and I keep coming back to 2 themes: perspective and toughness.

We are reminded by large events in our lives on the anniversary of those events.  I’ve written that our current perspective is just one of many that we will have on a topic over time.

Last week, no less than a hundred people reached out wondering if I was part of a company layoff.  I was not.  It had been the 15th layoff in my career that I had survived.  1,700 people were let go.  Losing or keeping your job in the short-term will force you to have a perspective, and will require some toughness.

Two events coming together at the same time.

For those that lost their job, I felt bad.  But I wondered why I felt more peace leading up to the event than I’d had the 14 earlier times.

My only explanation of this feeling of peace is I can’t remember one person over my entire career that languished for years after being laid off.  In fact, the opposite is almost always true.  As time goes on, you generally hear about the success stories, how someone found something new, or actually had the time to pursue their passion that had been seemingly put on hold while they held their old job.  We can have things happen to us, or we can make things happen for us.  Whether it’s a second chance or not is in the eye of the beholder.   As Jay Bilas says in his book, Toughness, “There is nothing more powerful, motivating and inspiring than having people in your life truly believe in you.”  Those 100 people that checked on me believe in me—thank you for giving me that peace.

4 thoughts on “Toughness

  1. Nathan J. Benn

    Fabulous post Uncle Billy. Aunt Sara shared that you had “survived” when I was down to briefly visit.

    Terrible thing to live in fear in the setting of the unknown. Especially when you’ve given your best, and with the possibility that that may not even be enough.

    You were spared for a reason Sir – make it count and continue to inspire others. I wish health care administrators took your lead. Good leaders don’t make followers – they make more leaders.

    I’m out in Eugene, OR for an interview. I’ve had a fantastic visit and they seem enthusiastic. Tough decision to move and be happy, or stick around for the grandparents for a while longer, let Victoria continue to build her fellowship program, and wait for my mother in law to retire so she could potentially move with us. She loves being grandma, as does my Mom. SO unhappy professionally though – something needs to change. What a cool million wouldn’t fix.

  2. C Brown

    If you have not read it, there is a Chinese parable that teaches us not to look at something and presume good luck or bad, but instead to not dwell on these events because a bigger plan is afoot.

    This parallels your reference to the success stories we hear of people, although unfortunate at the time, that have been let go. There are 1,700 more success stories ready to bloom.

    Google “Chinese parable Good luck? Bad Luck?”

  3. Lisa Fiedler

    I’m happy to hear that you survived the layoffs. You are a valuable asset to Target, and they need your leadership and wisdom! Best of luck to you in the future!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s