Fuel or Fear: How Are You Using Your Story of Past Adversity?

When someone said, “You want to shape your business to make sure you don’t fall ill again,” it evoked an unexpected sense of clarity within me....

©Joscelyn Duffy, Photo credit: Photography by Nicole Millard

Recently, someone said to me, “You want to shape your business to make sure you don’t fall ill again.”

I was taken aback. In spite of having faced life-threatening illness twice, I’ve never seen myself as sick…nor do I really want or need anyone else to. And I don’t spend my days dreading that I could become ill.

The narrative of my life is one of “yes, I can” and not “I can’t because (insert presumption about someone who has faced life-threatening illness)”

Some of the most incredible leaders I’ve had the pleasure of knowing and working with have also faced or live with chronic or life-threatening illness. The commonality we all share is that our lived experience has become our FUEL, NOT OUR FEAR.

This life is about progression, not pessimism.

We’ve moved past our past health challenges chosen to use those experiences as springboards to do magnificent, big-scale work in this lifetime. None of us, NONE, are living in our stories…nor do we want you to be doing so for us.

Personally, I’ve known two states of being in my life: near-death and vibrantly healthy (as in soaking up every second of life hiking up mountains and running a profoundly powerful international business kind of vibrant). I don’t live with physical pain, take drugs or restrict myself from living a full-filling life.

…And I certainly don’t need comments that suggest I should tip-toe through life and let fear be the director of what I may or may not create in my reality.

Falling ill happened what I was doing everything “right” — physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I ate an alkaline, organic vegan diet; ran, biked & hiked daily; loved my work; and spent my evenings on a SUP board in the tranquility of one of the most beautiful lakes in Canada.

Only the idealist believes that we’ll never fall ill if we’re doing everything “right.”

The realist knows that sometimes life (shit!) happens — that we live in a world filled with crazy toxins and viruses to which no of us are fully immune. When we take care of them, our physical, mental and emotional state can SAVE OUR LIFE, rather than nearly costing it.

I’ve spent enough months of my adult life in hospital to see that there are indeed people who have brutalized their bodies (drugs, alcohol, diet) and now face severe illness…and then there are those who did everything by the book and still fell ill.

We do not always cause our illnesses. My lifestyle and work did not cause mine.

Are these life-changing experiences messengers? Absolutely, if we want them to be.

Are they destined or fated? That is for you to decide based on your beliefs.

All I know is this: overcoming two blood clots, e-coli in my blood and subsequent lupus flares was definitely not part of my plan for my early adulthood. It has however evoked the wisdom, insight and clarity that have allowed me to work seamlessly as an ally to global thought leaders.

Am I grateful? Yes, for EVERYTHING.

Do I need you to remind of what I’ve lived? No, thank you. I’ll extract the insights and tidbits I need, when I need them for the good of a cause much bigger than myself.

As for how I build my business and live my life, I’ll take my chances on living big (while nurturing my mind, body & soul).

I hope the same for you.

Fuel, not fear.


#fuelnotfear #resilience #sisu #grit #entrepreneurlife #gratitude #masteryourmessage #wellbeing #wisdom #health #adversity

Originally published at medium.com

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