Living in Survival Mode
If you had met me when I was 35 years old, you would have never guessed that I’d “grow up” to be a life coach. In fact, what I really needed back then was my own life coach. I spent my adult life as the President and CEO of our multimillion dollar family steel business, driven by the need to be “successful,” to live up to my parents’ expectations and to provide financially for my family. To say I was stressed out would be an understatement. To say I was happy would be a lie. I was in survival mode: eat, sleep, work, repeat. Don’t get me wrong, I had a wonderful life by all accounts and purposes. I had a wife who I loved, three wonderful children, a beautiful house with a swimming pool in the yard, and family vacations to look forward to a few times a year. From the outside, my life looked quite perfect. But I was so focused on being something I wasn’t, so dedicated to growing a business I didn’t even really like, so committed to living up to everyone else’s expectations, that I didn’t realize that choosing happiness was even an option.
Unfortunately, my health was the first thing to go. I had been diagnosed with Crohn’s in my 20s—a disease that’s known to be linked to stress—and struggled to find a cocktail of meds that would ease the debilitating symptoms I was experiencing. By the time I was 50, in what was supposed to be the height of my career, I was in and out of the hospital awaiting my first Crohn’s surgery. And, while it might sound cliché, as I lay there in the recovery room (with my middle son down the hall also undergoing his own gastrointestinal surgery for ulcerative colitis) I realized that something was not right and I could no longer go on living the way I had been. I didn’t want profits to be my guiding force. I didn’t want to sacrifice my health and wellbeing for some vision of “success” my parents…