Finally, I had made it. Strolling confidently into the hangar, I shed my helmet and survival gear to cheers from my fellow pilots after becoming the Navy’s newest MH-53 Aircraft Commander. My oral board went great, I aced all the tests, and during the two-hour check ride I had managed to impress the most notoriously detailed instructor pilot in the fleet. The stern and unforgiving Commanding Officer smiled as he handed me the signed letter proving I was qualified to fly missions on my own, with his signature admonition, “Don’t f*#k it up.”
I was on top of the world. Months of self-doubt were instantly wiped away as I shook the hands of the senior Department Head pilots who doubted I could get it all done. It had been four months since my wife had moved out on the kids and me, and life had’t been very easy. Single parenthood is hard enough, without the added distraction of trying to qualify as an Aircraft Commander in an exceedingly complex military aircraft. Still, all their doubts were met with triumph. I didn’t just qualify, I had crushed it.
Eight hours later this crowning achievement, the pinnacle of many pilot’s lives, was the furthest thing from my mind. My world had crashed down on top of me. It was midnight and I was at the children’s hospital hearing the doctor say the words no parent every wants to hear: “Your son has cancer.”
Nothing ever prepares you for it. No one ever expects it. It can’t ever be softened. It just is. Life just says, “Though you’d had enough? Well, here. Take on this bit too.”
Single parenthood is hard enough, without the added distraction of a qualifying in a military aircraft AND having a child with cancer. The diagnosis didn’t stop us. We all learned to grow a little more, each in our own ways, and did the only thing you can do in this situation; we took life one day at a time. The three girls learned how to be patient with their sick younger brother. He learned to be patient with all of us, even when the medicine made him crabby. Everyone learned how to cook. Everyone learned how to clean. I learned how to braid hair, and how to listen without solving the problem. No one can say this life was ideal, but it was certainly better than it used to be.
And Then It Gets Better
Today, all of those children are well-functioning young adults with families of their own. I am remarried to a wonderful woman who helped the girls through some pretty exciting teenage years. The youngest is a cancer survivor, and soon will be following in his father’s footsteps in the Navy. All of these experiences have made us who we are, and preparing us for the lives we are living today.
These experiences and thousands more have equipped me with the patience and character to help you overcome anything.
I’m an Executive Coach focused on preparing executives and senior managers for vertical and lateral moves in the job market. Companies hire me to groom employees they’d like to promote, who are exceptional at their job function but require some additional leadership and interpersonal ‘soft skills’ necessary to lead at the next level.
I’m often hired by individuals directly, to ensure they’re perfectly positioned to take that next step in their career
As a Leadership Consultant, I use proven organizational development methodologies and change management practices to help business owners equip their organization for the market they’re in today, and prepare themselves to lead in the markets of the future.