If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re undoubtedly aware that I have a new book coming out, Overworked and Overwhelmed: The Mindfulness Alternative. I hope you’ll read it and get a lot of value from it. But before you do, there’s something that I want to share with you, as a regular reader of this blog, that has, for the past five years, been a private issue between me, my family and a few friends. That private issue is now public. Because you’re a regular reader here, I want you to hear about it from me in this setting before you read about it in the new book.
In the summer of 2009, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. That came as a shock because I was pretty healthy up to that point, had run a couple of marathons and thought I was pretty much bulletproof. Within a few weeks of my diagnosis, I could barely walk around the block and had to pull myself up the stairs by the banister to get to bed. I had bad days and somewhat better days the rest of that year and through the end of 2010. I tried some of the MS drugs but they didn’t agree with my liver and I had to stop taking them. In October of 2010, my wife, Diane, encouraged me to go to a yoga class because she had read that it helps people with MS function better.
I nervously went to a class and when I got there I took the instructor aside to tell her about my condition and to please keep an eye on me in case I passed out or something. She told me not to worry, that they regularly had people with chronic illnesses in class and that she would take care of me. She also told me if I came to yoga three times a week it would change my body and if I came more than three times a week it would change my life. She was right. I chose the more than three times a week option and it changed both my body and my life.
Today, I’ve written my second book, completed a 200 hour yoga teacher training program, been to Paris with Diane for our 25th anniversary and travel all over the place coaching and giving presentations. (I’m writing this post on a plane from Washington, DC to New York). I’ve gone from not being able to walk without support from Diane for balance to doing head stands, hand stands and arm balances most every day of the week. In short, I’m living at my best.
Managing stress is very important in managing MS. Yoga has been a big component of a system that along with intentional breathing, vibrant relationships and regular routines of reflection helps me do that. None of that is to say that I don’t get overworked and overwhelmed. I do just like everyone else does. The difference for me is that I recognize that feeling more quickly now and have learned how to respond to that feeling to get back to a more productive and healthier state.
That’s one of the big reasons I wrote the new book. I wanted to share the system based on mindful routines that keep me at my best physically, mentally, relationally and spiritually. The other big reason I wrote the book is that see a need among so many of my clients and audiences to an alternative to the overworked and overwhelmed state they often find themselves in. At this point, I’m passionate about sharing what I learned through interviews with successful executives and thought leaders, reviewing the latest research and my own experience. It feels like a mission for me.
I’m confident that I would not have written the new book if I had not had MS. Because my experience with not just surviving but thriving with the disease was so pivotal in writing Overworked and Overwhelmed, I felt like I had to make the private story of my illness public and write about it in the book. So, that’s what I mean by the title of this post, “Coming Clean.” Because you’ve been a regular reader here, I wanted to share the backstory with you before you read the rest of the story in the book
And, like I said earlier, I hope you’ll read it and that you take insights and action steps away that will strengthen your leadership and improve your life. Please share your stories and thoughts with me if you do.