Real Leaders

Boldy Embrace Your Life Transitions: Recovery Is the New Success

I’ve been a driver. A winner. A warrior, lover, and a builder. Setting and achieving meaningful goals was my passion — not only in business, but in my personal development, my family, relationships with my spouse, partners, siblings, parents, and friends.

I viewed myself in the way others viewed me. In other words, I was more attached to “CEO,” my beauty queen wife, successful children (songwriter/singer daughters and an NFL son), and several other labels that society covets. Yet, this wasn’t really me. I thought I was all these things, but it wasn’t true.

About five years ago, a sequence of events hit me, and I felt as if my life as I knew it exploded. The rock that I saw myself as, crumbled. During these past five years, I got divorced (after 29 years), and it took four years to finalize. My dad, the man I held in such high regard and loved deeply, died. My oldest daughter married, and all three of my adult children became more independent, creating new lives for themselves. My eyesight became increasingly blurry; I was diagnosed with boxer’s eye and had my first surgery. I broke up with the partners in my business and sold a company that had taken more than 20 years to build. The YPO forum I had founded with two others asked me to move on, as I was over 50 years old. I began dating again after 30 years. I got engaged to be married and, months later, broke it off. I was no longer in the same circles as my few friends, and I constantly heard harmful untruths that my ex-wife had fabricated and shared. I spent 13 hours in jail one Easter after being falsely accused of something I never did. I was handcuffed and booked.

Then, one year after closing the sale of my company, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. I moved out of state for two months, where I was given 28 treatments. To top it off, I contracted COVID-19 from my daughter last Thanksgiving and was quarantined for two weeks. In the following months, the company that bought my company fired me from a six-year consulting agreement when I didn’t accept their buyout number at 4:30 pm on New Year’s Eve, two days before my daughter gave birth to my first grandchild.

Yet, despite all this I feel blessed and grateful. I’m busy creating a new life and learning to lean into my fears and explore the uncovered passions of my younger self. I recently co-wrote and recorded my first song in Nashville with my daughter. Yes, I helped write the lyrics and sang, even though I’ve never been a singer. I’m finally figuring out who the hell I really am. I recently wrote a book that’s now for sale on Amazon and secured 370 acres of land in a prime location for a new residential development. Yet, I am not my project. I am not my book. I am uniquely me.

I don’t claim to have a crystal ball to see what’s next, and I’m still figuring out and building my legacy. I’ve heard people say that we are human beings, not human doings. I’m learning to lighten up on myself and create fun wherever I am. I’m aware of my emotions and vulnerable in sharing how I feel. I’m gaining quiet courage and confidence, different from what I’ve ever felt before. Despite feeling unworthy in my past, I’ve come to realize that I’m enough and worthy of anything or anyone that shows up in my life.

I’m excited about the new life and legacy I am building. My 3.0 is all about giving back, giving to myself, learning, and connecting with others. I will travel the world and engage in an adventure with those close to me. In addition to preserving and building friendships, I’m also excited to find the woman who will be the perfect life companion for me. I love myself more than I’ve known, which inspires me to want to help lift others up. I’ve always been good at getting up again, even when I didn’t want to. And today, I am grateful to be taking steps forward. Crap happens in life — to all of us — and it’s likely to happen again. We have a choice though: to believe that it’s happening “to us” or to get curious about why it is happening “for us.” We get to decide. Success for me is not about what we accomplish or have. Success is all about how we recover.

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