We can change
our lives-and our businesses-for the better if we change our focus.
By John Chappelear
everyone's on a low-fat diet
after the heart attack?
Everyone has time for their kids
after the divorce?
Everyone's a financial
genius after a bankruptcy?
As managers, supervisors, and executives, we're trained to judge our success by
the size of our departments, budgets, sales, profits, bank accounts, and the
deals we make. When I had my own $50 million-a-year business, that's what I
thought, too. Being a successful CEO, I figured if I just worked hard enough,
I'd wind up on top. Failure is something that happens to the other guys.
That's when it happened to me. I lost everything. Everything I thought was
Money, power, prestige. Gone. My position as CEO? Gone, too.
Although I didn't know it then, I had been given a gift. A "Gift of
Desperation" that changed me and my outlook for the better. In the end, it
made me a more successful person, too.
We can all recognize a "gift of desperation". It's the
"aha" that comes at the darkest of times. Speak with anyone who has
had a life-changing experience, and they'll tell you how much it has led them
to appreciate each and every day. They have a higher sense of awareness and
focus on living each day with joy.
Still need convincing? Look how our country pulled together after 9-11-01.
People actually started talking, connecting--and not just our friends and
family, but strangers on the street or at the corner store. I had clients all
over the country remarking something like this: "I never really
appreciated just how important (blank) was, until now." The way that (blank)
got filled in varied from person to person and organization to organization,
but suddenly I could tell they had begun to notice that there was more to life
than profits and possessions. The horror of that experience became a gift to
many who chose to see the lessons.
When I received my "gift of desperation" I began to notice, FINALLY,
something was missing in my life. It wasn't success that was missing. It was
Most CEOs have the same symptoms I did: We have a gorgeous house, but are
hardly around to enjoy it. We eat at private lunch clubs, but we're still
hungry inside. Our expensive watches can't keep our time from slipping away.
We have kids, but we may never really appreciate them. I didn't, either--until
involuntary unemployment kept me home instead of frantic and at the office.
"Pick me up, Daddy!" my three-year-old son kept saying. "It's
good for you." Now how did he know that? But you know what, he was right.
Here I had been rushing, rushing, rushing--because I needed everything to be perfect.
And then I would finally get back to my family and friends. I just needed to
get all my ducks in a row. Have you ever tried to get ducks in a row? I finally
realized that I had to stop waiting for my life to get perfect to be happy.