Dr. Mark Goulston is a longtime friend and podcast and blog post contributor to BNI and an even closer personal friend to me. He thought you and I might find this contribution interesting and helpful. I know I have.
Dear Ivan and BNI Friends,
I thought the above title was more upbeat and would grab your attention more than the other one I’ve been doing many interviews about, namely, “I’m dying to tell you.”
That’s because I have a serious and potentially terminal illness that is daily teaching me more important lessons about everything, from life to business and back, than living ever did. I have an urgency to share them because my treatments – chemotherapy followed by a Bone Marrow Transplant – might result in some long term cognitive impairment – which I had a taste of today. If that happens, my creativity and language skills may take a hit and if so, I will try to be a good sport and be the doting parent, grandparent and husband that I am doing my best to be already.
BTW don’t feel sorry for me, I am the most content and at peace I have ever been in my life. When people try to pump me up with well-intentioned (and because they don’t know what else to say) statements like, “You gotta have a positive attitude,” I reply with, “I am positive and optimistic (hey, if Ivan can pull through everything he’s been through, so can I) and I’ll trade you the utter peace of mind I have now that I have been chasing for 70 years for positive attitude any day.” I think accepting that I might die – although I’m not being passive about my treatment – has enabled me to let go of having to live which is more peaceful than not accepting I might die and not letting go of having to live and becoming consumed with that.
Here are a few lessons I have learned that I will try to make relevant to you and your life and business.
- A matter of life and death for me and you. Have the best team and partners you can have in business, in marriage and in life where you have each others’ back, can fully depend and rely on, be optimistic and yet fully honest with. I don’t think I would be at such peace if I didn’t have the best doctor I have ever known or had (the guy has 260+ 5 star patient reviews – that’s a unicorn among unicorns). If I had gone with the brilliant, but arrogant MD I saw before who I would be afraid to ask questions or share my deepest concerns with, I wouldn’t be nearly at so much peace. Don’t settle for anyone less in your business and in your life.
- Michelangelo Dying. Michelangelo famously said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set it free.” Well I saw what was the most important inside all the unimportant stuff (and there was a bunch). And when I carved away what was unimportant, what became important completely shined through. And one of those was friendships with people like Ivan, so we have made a commitment to catch up at least every two months.
- Visionary Dying. For a year and half I did a one man show (written, produced, directed and starring me) called “Steve Jobs Returns,” where I played Jobs from 1996 when he returned to Apple to 2007 when he introduced the iPhone (here is an animated excerpted video clip from one performance). At any rate when I played him I discovered 3 D’s of Visionary Thinking:
a. Define Reality beyond what’s possible and beyond what’s even imaginable, such as a Macintosh computer with a mouse and graphical user interface that would put a personal computer on everyone’s desk.
b. Declare Intention to make it happen where Jobs reinforced that with his famous Reality Distortion Field that he got everyone else to believe because he did.
c. Decide Strategy on how to make it happen with the participation of people like his partner Steve Wozniak and later on designers such as Jony Ive (here’s my favorite video clip of what Jobs taught Jony that still rings true).
For me, my Visionary Dying involves:
a. Defining Reality of what a good death is and I hit all the criteria from my late mentor Dr. Edwin Shneidman except living until 90 and being as little a pain in the rear to your family as possible (I guess you’ll have to ask them).
b. Declaring Intention to make it so.
c. Deciding Strategy which is living the criteria of A Good Death, assembling the best medical team around me, helping my family adjust to this chapter in my life.
Thank you my dear friend Ivan, and my BNI friends, if you have taken the time to read this. And if you have, I hope you will check out my “I’m dying to tell you” YouTube and TikTok video series and if you find them helpful, I hope you will give me the gift of sharing them with people you think might also feel the same.
Until we meet again (and rumors of my demise which I may have started may hopefully be exaggerated), take good care of yourself and the people you love.
Finally, perhaps what gives me the most peace of mind is knowing that everyone who has ever lived has died and if they can do it, so can I.