Okay, so here’s the deal: On October 1st, while in a business meeting about a business conference I am helping to plan and organize at Sunday River Resort, Maine’s largest resort, I experienced a serious stroke that has temporarily left me without voice and partially paralyzed. In my limited view of reality, the month has become “lost” – with canceled appointments including a presentation for the MaineBiz Momentum conference. I’m in a rehab facility in Freeport currently which is closer to my home than Central Maine Medical Center where I was for October.
Who knows what lies ahead? I look forward to singing again – and to speaking also. But if that’s not to be, then I know there will be some other path for me.
I’ve missed the turning of the colors and the change of seasons – as well as the seasonal chores, which friends and family have kindly taken over for me. But the month hasn’t been ‘lost.’ In fact it’s been full of experiences and insights. In fact, I almost called the blog:
“The KINDNESS of Strangers – and Close Friends”
You see, despite the temporary shutdown of my life and business, this experience is providing me an opportunity to reflect on the lasting important relationships in my life:
- My family who have rallied around me and surrounded me with love and support.
- Friends and colleagues who have sent cards, books and good wishes and shown me that our relationships are important to them, sitting and reading to me from books that are inspirational and uplifting.
- And particularly my wife, Barbara, who has shouldered the emotional and spiritual challenges of thinking ahead of how we will cope in the weeks and months ahead.
I’d be happy to share more of this, but primarily wanted to share the “teachable moment” of all this with you.
You see, this experience has been about even more than the kindness of friends and family. It’s been about meeting strangers who are helping me – and providing beautiful lessons about the meaning and purpose of life.
In fact, my third choice for a name for this blog was:
The Power of HEART-felt PURPOSE
One of the purposes of the “Notes on Noble Business” blog posts is to describe “everyday” people (and companies), who – because of something deep within themselves – become inspiring examples for the rest of us.
I’ve been cared for beautifully by a whole cadre of professionals at CMMC . One young woman from the Physical Therapy group has particularly inspired me – and helped me.
Impressed with what seemed like a confidence and dedication far beyond her years, I asked Angela if she had always known that she would get involved in healing work. She responded immediately with, “My father had a back operation that went very bad, and I hated seeing him suffer.” Moved by her sincerity, I asked more about how she had turned that concern for her father into a heart-filled career purpose.
“Just thinking about that gives me goose bumps,” she replied. We didn’t have time to continue the discussion then, but agreed to come back to it in a future PT session.
A few days later, that opportunity came again. Angela shared that, because of her father’s debilitating back injury, she and her siblings grew up dirt poor in rural Maine. Her mother, the sole “bread winner” was left to feed a family of five children plus herself and her husband. They lived in a trailer. There were many days when they just didn’t have any food to eat.
So she suffered not only seeing her father suffer – usually not able to get up and crawling on the floor, but she also suffered personally in her formative years. Finally, after ten years, they managed to get their father to a specialist in Boston. Besides expressing his own disgust that Angela’s father had undergone an operation which had clearly been botched, he provided some remedial help. Eventually her father has recovered enough to pursue a life-long dream of building a home – but for a family that is now all gone!
Later, in college (which she basically put herself through), Angela would sit in the library wondering if the student on the other side of the table would eventually eat the apple sitting in front of him, or maybe leave it and thus provide Angela with a “meal.”
Despite this obviously powerful experience of basic deprivation, there was nothing in the “current” Angela that seemed to express that deprivation. She seemed like many other young professionals, dedicated, successful, confident and hopeful about the future.
She had found her hope and clarity through both her grandmother and a caring Nun. Both of them had Near Death experiences – that is experiences of “being on the other side” or at least glimpsing the other side. These experiences, often while the person is clinically dead, are well documented by the International Association for Near Death Studies.
As with so many stories of NDErs, the Nun was surrounded by Beings of Light, including relatives who had already passed over. Given the choice of whether to proceed to the ‘other side’ or to go back to her current life on earth, the Nun chose to go back – to carry on her work teaching about healing.
Angela said she had felt drawn to study with this woman, but “the opportunity” passed, or so she thought. Years later, as she sought to learn more about Life and Healing, Angela remembered the elderly Nun and longed for a teacher to come into her life.
Lo and behold that opportunity reoccurred, and she is now studying actively with the Nun, devouring the books the Nun has in her collection, including the books of Barbara Ann Brennan, such as “Hands of Light,” “Light Emerging” and “Seeds of the Spirit.”
Reflecting her life and its potential value to others, Angela summed up her story, “My suffering has been an important part of my life. If I can help other people who are suffering, that is good.”
I relished hearing about Angela’s story, and I could tell she enjoyed that.
This was a Heart Connection regarding the meaning of life – not just physical life, though isn’t it interesting that Angela’s chosen (outer) vocation is about physical vitality and ability? Behind that physical life of course is Energy Life – or Spiritual Life, and that seems to be the level on which we connected.
There are so many opportunities for Heart Connections – here was a simple one, but also powerful one, reminding me of several truths which, though I “knew,” perhaps I needed gentle reminders of: that….
1. We are connected more through our hearts, than through our minds or even though our shared experiences
2. It is experiences of Heart (which Angela so beautifully described) that shape the deepest aspects of our lives, such as in Angela’s own life
3. If we’re open to it, we are blessed with many sources of wisdom to help us along the way to career purpose and life meaning;
4. Desire for this guidance is one trigger to its appearing, and gratitude (as in Angela’s to her teacher) is yet another trigger.
5. These experiences of Heart build trust and connection upon which great accomplishments can be built.
This brings me back to the “Noble Enteprise” book I wrote a few years ago. In it I write about and illustrate the power of Heart. Increasingly, I believe that it is the Heart that will become the central organ of all work, fulfillment and meaning.
Thank you, Angela, for your powerful, yet gentle reminder – even while you straightened my legs and taught me to walk again!
Here’s some more related info you might find inspiring:
1. For another story of a young professional serving a heart-filled higher purpose, see the blog post on Curry Ford.
1) For info about our work – and our conferences and public appearances, go to www.NobleAdvisors.com.
2) For info about the
BOOK: NOBLE ENTERPRISE: The Commonsense Guide to Uplifting People and Profits
This book, published by Cosimo Books in 2008 near the start of the recession, chronicles the story of how the management of a near-death company revitalized its people and its fortunes, thereby becoming an industry leader in just three years, raising all the outer measures of business success while also raising the inner ones, like employee morale. The book provides steps leaders can take to energize their own organizations to become industry leaders. It is being used in several university executive education programs.
To order the book, go to: