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Leading after a life threatening disease
April 5, 2019 - June 28, 2019
Having the experience of life threatening diseases, Timo and I decided to develop a program for leaders who have suffered from such a disease and who are now in the process of coming back (to work).
We’ve been interviewing leaders who are dealing with cancer or with heart problems. This brings us remarkable dialogues. Based on the interviews and scientific research, we have designed a program that supports them to get fit and maybe even better leaders.
Some statements from the interviews
One manager shares with us that only now he realizes how much love he gets from his co-workers. He is physically not well at all, will die in a few months but work is the place where he feels meaningful. The love that he receives touches him deeply. In the past he was very result and process oriented. Now he starts to see the world from a different perspective.
Another leader tells us that he is afraid since he is officially cured from cancer. The cancer gave structure to his life: he knew what to fight and to get rid off. Now he is very happy that the treatment was successful but there is something lingering in the back of his mind. It’s fear, fear for the openness in front of him. Fear for the seemingly borderless future. The structure has fallen away and he needs to adjust to the new (wonderful) situation.
One of the first people we interviewed has died recently. He was struggling with his family. What to tell at home and what not to tell? How long can I remain working? I don’t want to be pitied by my people or family. And I don’t want to make a fool out of myself. But work and distraction are so important to me in these days.
Another CEO was treated badly by his Board. They were very understanding and he needed to take time for himself. But his place was gone when he came back. He’d found now a better job where he could combine his commercial qualities and his longing to make it a better world. He’s realizing his potential, but the journey has been hard.
When my secretary passed away from cancer it became clear to me that body and mind are not one. Her body had completely given up on her but her mind was totally clear. “Hein, can you share a story with me? I can hardly talk myself but would like to listen to you.” I shared the story in the booklet that I got from dr. Ariyaratne about living and dying according to the Buddhists. She passed away 15 minutes after I left. It touched me deeply.
Remarkable and touching stories that make us feel alive. The connection we have is remarkable and nourishing for all. Death is little part of our lives these days, but a force to be reckoned with.
Pema Chodron shares in ‘Fail, Fail again, Fail better‘ that “out of that place of rawness you can really communicate genuinely with other people. Your best qualities come out of that place because it’s unguarded and you’re not shielding yourself. Failing better means that failure becomes a rich and fertile ground instead of just another slap in the face. […] I would like to say that these transition periods where you’re groundless and fearful are for the spiritual practitioner probably the most fertile ground. Because of the fact that nothing is pinned down, there are limitless possibilities right there for you if you just kind of turn your head a little bit more to the right. You can have the sense of anything is possible, as opposed to “OMG, what is going to happen to me?”