For over thirty years, I have been in the professional speakers business. I’ve written three books, appeared before 500 companies, and had over 6,700 speaking engagements. I’ve never had to work a day in the past thirty plus years. My dad was right: “Find something to do that you love and you’ll never work again.”
The core material in my book and my talks is based on attitude. In fact, the tag line for my company is “It’s Your Attitude… It’s Your Choice.” Little did I know how important this statement would become in my personal life. I’ve asked audiences over and over again to answer the following questions: Whose life is it? Who’s responsible for it? What do you plan on doing about it? And last question… When?
Six years ago I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and the answers to these questions became much more significant to me. And none of these questions could be answered until I recognized what I had control over and what I did not control. It seemed so easy from the lecture platform. What do you control? What don’t you control? Now that my life was at risk, thoughts of my family, loved ones, grand kids, and my business, etc. etc, were all spinning in my head. Combine these thoughts with the anger of “why me?” I did all the right things: exercise, diet, rest… and the doctor interrupted my thoughts with one very enlightening statement. “Tom, cancer doesn’t care.” This slapped me back into focus. I had been spending more time on things I had no control over and very little time on what I really controlled. I checked out all the offered solutions, asked lots of questions, and made the decision to have the seed implants. I checked into the hospital at 1:30 p.m., had the procedure at 4:00 p.m., and checked out of the hospital at 8:30 p.m. that same day. My attitude had taken control: I did not choose to be a member of this “club” but my reaction was my choice. I had a life to live. Things were going great. My PSA numbers dropped and I was cancer free.
Two years later, I was given another opportunity to walk my talk. I went to see my doctor for what I thought was a week-long bout with the flu. I walked into his office for my 2 o’clock appointment, looking forward to my blood test results. My doctor followed me into the patient room. He asked five questions in quick succession, to which I answered “yes” in each case. Then the bomb dropped. He told me I had complete renal failure and I must go immediately to the hospital for dialysis of my kidneys. Less than two hours later, I was having the impurities in my system being mechanically removed. Two days later, they gave me the news that my kidney had failed because I had multiple myeloma. “Doc, I don’t have time for cancer,” I said, “What are we going to do now?” His response I will never forget. “Tom, I like your attitude.” Little did I know that the prostate cancer was just a test run for my attitude towards myeloma.
I want to live life, not exist. The more I talk with other cancer patients, the more I am convinced that attitude has a major impact on each and every one of us as we face each day. Starting with the recognition of what events we don’t control and what events we have control over. Reach out, grab the events that you can control and do the best you can to adapt to the ones you don’t control. You and I are too important not to take control of our destiny, as best we can under the circumstances. We are in a club that none of us chose, with a membership we cannot cancel. Our attitude impacts all we do and affects all those around us. Attitude is the little thing that makes a big difference. Right or wrong, good or bad, positive or negative, It’s Your Attitude… It’s Your Choice. Make it a great day by making a great choice.