The Ultimate Game Changer: Your Health

Posted August 8, 2012 in Career Management, Latest News & Insights

I spend a lot of time hearing our members talk about “changing the game”.  They’re referring, of course, to how to pull their business out of a backwards slide.  They spend hours in meetings, brainstorming ideas and devising plans.  They sacrifice weekends with family, push back vacations and reschedule doctor’s appointments so that they can “change the game”.  It seems like we can all get sucked into this frenzy for both short and long periods of time.  But here’s what I know… the real game changer is what all this stress and distraction is doing to your health.

On July 24th, one of my oldest, dearest friends found out that she had stage 4 colon cancer.

Just. Like. That.

In case you’re not familiar with the various stages of cancer, stage four is the last one… it’s terminal.  Treatable but not curable.

Did I mention that my friend is 46?

Did I mention that she’s a triathelete? Fly fisher woman?  Home renovation diva? General “seize life by the throat and live it” type of person?

She went to her doctor in January telling him she felt that something was going on in her stomach.  She insisted on getting additional screening tests (notice I said SHE insisted… not her medical advisor).  Her second follow-up test was scheduled for two days after she was rushed to the hospital.

Here’s what I know.  For all of you out there that are pushing in extra hours to change your companies “game”; who are missing out on living your life because you’re stuck behind a computer; who are pushing off making that annual physical appointment with your doctor… please stop it.

When I interview executives in our mentoring program and ask them about what’s most important to them they all say: “my health… because if you don’t have your health, you don’t have anything.”

For those of us mid-career leaders prone to burning the candle at both ends (I’m one of them), it’s easy to convince ourselves that we’re somehow invincible and (worse) indispensable so therefore can’t step away from work to look after ourselves.  But we’re not.

That report can wait.  Use your vacation days. Make it home in time for supper with your kids. Take that trip you’ve always wanted to take. Stop being too busy to smell the roses.

And, above all else, take your health care into your own hands and make it your priority. Ask for second opinions, insist on further testing and demand attention if you feel something’s going off the rails.

None of us know how long or short this life journey will be.  Don’t let an over focus on work steal your health out from under your nose.

When you find out a loved one has a terminal illness, one of the worst things is the feeling of helplessness that you have.  You want to do something, but you don’t know what you can do.  I am hoping that by writing this post, I encourage one reader who’s been delaying their annual physical to actually go and have it. Are you that reader? I hope so.

Be well.

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  1. Brenda says:

    What an incredibly important message for all of us. For those who have friends dealing with life threatening illness, there are things that you can do.

    Call – and don’t take it personally if your friend doesn’t call you back right away. Wait a while and call again. Life for that person has just gotten very complicated and you may have slipped off the radar. They’ll let you know if they’d rather be left alone.

    Offer to take them to appointments. Cancer treatments don’t usually happen at convenient times. Their loved ones are probably taking all kinds of time away from work to get them to and from the hospital and stressing about it. You can help big time here.

    Does your friend have kids? Often biggest worry for someone dealing with life threatening illness is how their children will manage and how to keep things as normal as possible for as long as possible. Offer to take their kids out – drive them to swimming – drop them off at camp – step in for those little things your friend used to do. You’ll be building an important bond with a child who may need you later.

    Support the supporters. Your friend’s partner is facing tremendous stress and heartache. Call them – make tangible offers of support – and just let them talk.

    Don’t be afraid. Fear holds many of us back from saying and doing kind deeds. We worry “we’ll say the wrong thing” or “have nothing to say.” As someone once wrote: “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” Your friend needs you.

    Thanks for posting Glain. Your blog has prompted action at our home already.


    • Glain says:

      Thanks Brenda for these great suggestions. It’s so true that it’s often very hard to know how to help and what to say. Appreciate you taking the time to share some practical strategies. I think these are equally applicable to supporting an individual who is coping with a terminal illness as well as for those who are working through grief.