Category Archives: Toughness

The Next Chapter

nextchapter

Taking my oldest son to college for the first time was harder than I thought.  My wife and I left with him Wednesday night and moved him in on Thursday.  Then, we left.

All the clichés are true; it happens more quickly than you think.  I can attest to that.  One day you’re putting him on the school bus for the first time, and then almost without blinking you’re hugging him in the dorm parking lot saying good bye.  You feel this extreme loss of his presence, knowing that it will never be the same.

But then my 88 year-old father, who did this 7 times, said it’s like he’s starting his next chapter.  For some reason that made me feel better, that somehow, for him, he’s getting to start something he’s been waiting a long time to start.  I then remember how happy I was for my next chapter after my parents dropped me off at college.  These additional perspectives helped me balance my own feelings of loss and fear I felt by dropping him off.

Maybe it should be about him, and not me?

I talk a lot about the “change cycle.”  This is a model that tells you no matter how big or small the change is that you are experiencing, science tells us that we always go through the same sequential 6 stages—Loss, Doubt, Discomfort, Discovery, Understanding, Integration.  The pace in which one goes through the cycle is dependent on several factors.  One thing I like about the model is that just knowing you go through all 6 stages—and you will eventually get to Integration—in of itself is comforting.  By using this model, I can self-identify that I am in the Loss and Doubt stages, and that is OK.

This one will take me a while.  The text messages and once a week phone calls help too.  After we got home, his younger brothers launched a multi-phased project where everyone was switching rooms.

“We keep no shrines,” my mother used to say when the exact same thing happened 45 years ago with my 6 sisters.

Peyton moved into Will’s now empty room.  Henry moved into Peyton’s room and Eddie stayed in the room he previously shared with Henry.  We moved clothes, dressers, beds–the works.  Now the remaining boys all have their own room.

Feels like they moved through the change cycle pretty quickly.  Have to love your siblings.

Advertisements

Toughness

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.