When I think back to when I was an IT Manager and running projects all over the world, I can recall the person I was then and I have compared it to the person I am today; there are so many difference. There is also a great deal of irony in the fact that I consider myself mentally, emotionally, stronger and, yes, better than I was, even if physically I am not what I was.
I think its unfortunate that the business world and the rest of the world in general have no appreciation for the incredibly valuable knowledge and experience that going through such challenges can give. I know I would be 100 times the manager today with the skills and attitude that I have developed in the past decade since becoming ill.
For example. I am far more focused, realistic, resilient and determined than I ever was. My ability to push through ANY situation and cope with some of the most difficult of circumstances would make me a better thinker, planner and reactor.
It takes a lot to shock me or surprise me. These days it takes a lot more to unnerve me or cause me to be nervous or unconfident. I remember ’round table’ discussions and some of the emotions which prevailed. Crisis talks, ‘Crit Sits’ (critical situations) and contract negotiations. I truly believe that I would be much less intimidated by those moments and be able to see the ‘bigger picture’ far more easily. Trauma, pain and loss has a way of teaching you what to put your energy, efforts and time into.
My risks analysis skills are far more superior now. Having had real life experiences with life / death situations, my risk assessments a ‘risk vs reward’ judgements are much stronger and refined. Health issues have a tendency to change you in ways which can’t possibly understand or predict. For me, it has made me a much calmer, disciplined and grounded person. I can tend to see situations with much more clarity.
My team skills and negotiation skills are better. I have had to work under some very difficult conditions with some real knowledge base differences. Its not always easy translating symptoms and outcomes into real world consequences and goals. I have had to deal with many different specialists and try to keep them all focused and remind them of common goals and hurdles. Each specialist has their own personalities and idiosyncrasies, which means negotiation and
I have a stronger sense of confidence and maturity. These days I have a stronger sense of self and confidence that dealing with pain and challenges everyday brings. If I only had a body that cooperated, I would have been a far more confident and mature leader or team player. Its ironic that I had to lose my physical self to find my strong, capable inner self.
My research skills and ability to learn has increased exponentially. In the past decade I had to learn anything and everything about the most difficult, and hard to treat diseases on the planet. Since being diagnosed with two rare diseases, several autoimmune diseases and labelled as a ‘complex’ medical case I have to be the leading authority of autoimmune diseases, alternative therapies, diet, exercise and mental health; my health. In the past 10 years I have had to remind several specialists about alternative treatments options, patient chemical sensitivities, false positive outcomes and some various studies which have been trialed overseas. In short, I have had to research the hell out of these diseases and know more about my diseases then most doctors and certainly more than most organizations and foundations. I have spent more man hours researching my diseases and biology than the average research scientist will do in a lifetime, which means that while my body is failing faster than I ever imagined it would, however my mind continues to amaze me and support me. It shows me just how amazing a tool my mind, tenacity and intellect would have taken me; If only I was only able to shower myself, walk or control my bodily functions.
So, the ultimate irony is that I had to get terribly and incurably ill to show myself how valuable I am inside and what a real asset I would have been. However this worlds current focus and fixation on physical strength devalues so many other skills, talents, and abilities. If only this wasn’t so. If only there was a better scenario. If only. Or perhaps there could be.
Patience and dedication. 10 years of managing pain and challenges everyday teaches so many things, a lot of things. Amongst those things are patience and dedication. The type of patience and dedications that can build a space shuttle with your eyes closed times over and climb Mt. Everest before breakfast. I have had to cling to life and find the ‘happy’ in day to day events which requires complete and total commitment to patience and dedication to life. I think I could probably get the Nobel prize or Purple heart for these qualities.
Corporate policy are instruments of business leaders and hiring and human resources, well they hire and fire who they are told to. More and more corporations are making it clear what is valued and valuable to the business world today, however, with these newly appreciated abilities of confidence, courage, Intelligence, resourcefulness and patience, I am glad of who I have become and continue to evolve into.
I realise that what I value in life, and about life, sometimes come at a high price and experience is the most valuable teacher but I now know, without a doubt, that I am worth every penny.