In 2005, when I was in my late thirties, I had a heart attack. In the month or so leading up to the heart attack, I was starting to exhibit the classic symptoms – pain radiating down the shoulders, achiness in my jaw and between my shoulder blades. But I didn’t know what they were.
On the night of the heart attack, I felt instantly sick to my stomach. I could tell that something wasn’t right. It wasn’t just the stomach flu or food poisoning. I remember being curled up on the floor of the bathroom wondering if this was it – if this was the end of me.
I remember being scared. I was too young. There were supposed to be a lot of years left for me to live. In that single instant my values shifted drastically. I wasn’t at all disappointed that I hadn’t gone to the Bahamas. I couldn’t care less what was going to happen next on the TV series LOST.
What I’ve learned is that when you face a very real possibility that you might be at the end of your life, you will ask these two questions:
- Did I love people well?
- Did my life matter?
I’ve heard that others who have faced a similar situation also asked if they lived fully, but for me if I answered my two questions well, I would be living fully.
These two questions were burned into my mind. During the months of my recovery, I was confused because these two questions seemed at odds with each other. How was I supposed to spend my time? Sometimes I’m a slow learner. It has taken me several years of reflection and mulling before I’ve come to realize that these are not separate questions. I can’t make a significant ripple in the world if I don’t love people. If I don’t love people, my impact in the world will be small. Both questions are ultimately about loving people – people close and people far.
It has also taken a while for me to figure out how to realign my life around my strengths, passions, dreams, and my message. Now I am helping others to join me in positively influencing the world. My passion is to get everyone to take hold of these two fundamental questions and to act on them. My passion is for people to find their calling, and contribute meaningfully to the world.
I’ve always been kind of stubborn (although “determined” sounds a lot nicer). Despite having a significant vision impairment since I was born, I wanted to do the same things as other kids. Fortunately for me, my parents didn’t hold me back. I might have crashed my bike more than other kids, but I got myself where I wanted to go.
Sometimes I had to be creative to get past an obstacle that would have held a lot of people back. I became a pro at generating options and coming up with solutions.
As I studied social work in graduate school, I was struck by the prevalence of programs that alleviate symptoms compared to solutions that prevent problems. I think an ounce of prevention is actually worth a lot more than a pound of cure.
Using the same tools we now teach other people, I have defined my own personal purpose statement: “inspiring meaningful proactivity.” John has defined his purpose: “raising the dead.” We have blended both his and my strengths and passions and desire to have a positive impact on people’s lives. Through Simply Great Lives we are living our calling.
We take people through the process of finding–and living–their calling in life. We help people unlock their potential to have an impact in the world. If you want a life rich in meaning, if you want to make a difference, we hope you will join is on this journey.