I recently attended the NSCA Business & Leadership Conference in Arizona. First off …Kudos to the NSCA staff for finding the most amazing speakers. There were various business seminars on the state of the economy, not being complacent, learning to adapt to change to grow your business, strategic planning and finding the entrepreneur inside of you… Saturday morning John O’Leary took the stage. I have not been able to get him out of my head since.
His seminar was different from the others. It reminded us of our human side. John’s story was personal he told his tale of being a nine year old boy who was burned on 100% of his body and was given less than 1% chance of survival that first night. He discussed the accident, his courage, his road to recovery and the influential people who carried him through. I was fighting tears at one minute and laughing at the next and was completely captivated.
I think I was especially touched since I have lived through a tragic accident as well and could relate so closely to the feelings he expressed of lying in that hospital bed. So here is my story…6 years ago my daughters Madison (2 ½ at the time) and Charlotte (9 months) and myself were in a terrible car accident. A woman was on drugs and crossed the highway hitting us head on at a rate of 90 MPH.
My girls each broke a few bones, my poor Charlotte was in a body cast since she broke her femur. I broke 25 bones, a collapsed lung and was fighting to stay alive. They read me my last rights right in front of my husband. I could relate to John’s story…I also asked my mother “Am I going to die?” The loneliness of being pinned in a bed unable to move and the contemplations that only a person who has been on a similar journey would understand the thoughts going on in your head; the fear, the pain, the fight.
As I sat and listened to John talk about the healing interaction with hall of fame sports announcer Jack Buck and how Jack figured out a way to do more…John told the amazing story how this man inspired his recovery and dedicated a part of his life to watching this little boy live and found ways to make this boy smile and push through the adversity…it was really so touching.
These days you hear about all of the negative in life, all the bad, but here was a reminder of the good in people. I also had such a similar experience. The incredible support of family, friends, church and community is how people can survive all odds. They can’t do it alone… I promise you…so I propose the same question to you that John proposed to me… What more can I do?
I truly don’t take anything for granted…I have learned to step back and remind myself of how far my family has come in six years…it truly is a miracle, it was long fight, 8 surgeries, a body covered in wounds, nursing homes, years of physical therapy and learning to walk again…but together we made it through.
I was really happy to see NSCA incorporate a presentation that touched our emotions. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the place and the entire room gave a standing ovation at its completion.
From a business perspective within our own organizations, industry, our clients, we need to remind ourselves not to get completely caught up behind the technology and remind ourselves to connect with people and hear their story. Everyone has one to tell and most people do want to share theirs.
If you ever have a chance to see John presentation – DO IT! He will remind you to appreciate life and the people in it, something we all need to remind ourselves often. Watching his success both personally and professionally will stay with you I promise. He makes me want to do more.
I am glad that I wrote this blog…so many life lessons learned. Thanks for listening to my story and thank you John for the continued inspiration.