Sunday, May 23, 2010

L.E.A.P. "The P"

"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you; they're supposed to help you discover who you are."
-Bernice Johnson Reagon-

I recently received an email from a teacher at Darby about a group of amputees that play soccer in the country of Liberia, a story that was also featured on ESPN. It was in that email that I saw the quote from above. As I read the quote, I knew it would become one that I would refer to often, and more importantly I knew it was one that I've tried to embody, not just in my current journey, but throughout my entire life when any obstacle or hurdle has presented itself.

So, once again, I know it's been quite a while since I've last posted and let me tell you, A LOT has happened since my last update. First and foremost, I received my "official" leg last Wednesday minus the artwork, but trust it will soon appear on a leg near you! Secondly, in what was quite a surprise, I visited Steve Farber's, the author of The Radical Leap, website earlier this week to see a post about yours truly, which REALLY meant a lot to me. Finally, through Mr. Farber's help, I have been in touch with a very Extreme Leader, Glen Warren of the Orange County Department of Education. He, like me, believes wholeheartedly in the LEAP principles. His belief is so strong he has planned and developed the first education conference based on LEAP, The Orange County Extreme Leadership Conference to be held on June 2nd. Not only has he invited me to come out, but he has mentioned the possibility of me having the opportunity to speak there as well. How cool is that?!!!

Now, that brings me to the topic of today's post and the final quality that "Extreme Leaders" exemplify is represented by the P, in the acronym LEAP, Proof. As Farber states, on page 174 in A Daily Handbook for Extreme Leaders, this proof must occur on three levels:
1. Prove it to others.
2. Prove it yourself.
3. Prove to others that you're proving it to yourself.

Proving it to others, or putting your money where your mouth is, is easier said than done. We have all worked with someone that has that mastermind idea at the 11th hour, but you wonder where they've been up until that point. Throughout my life, I have always prided myself on working hard in everything I do, whether it's teaching, coaching, working out, etc. I have always aspired to be seen as a hard worker and very committed to the team or the task at hand, and I hope people have seen that in me.

When it comes to my leg, I've always tried to look at the positives. Often times, I have done this more for the benefit of others than for myself. Now, it was time to prove it to myself, which I took the first step in doing so back in February when I made the decision to go through with my amputation, and ultimately on March 15th when I had my surgery. Every day since then, I have proven it to myself that I can be strong enough to go through this journey and take on any challenge in the future. One of my favorite aspects of The Radical Leap is Farber's description of the OS!M, or as he puts it "Extreme Leaders are living in the pursuit of the OS!M." What is an OS!M? you ask, well I think it's defined by Edg when he explains it to Steve as he describes the street luge in the following excerpt on pages 21 and 22:
"Now, imagine you're lying flat on your back on a long, wheeled sled-kinda like a skateboard-perched on the top of a steep hill. This isn't your serene, pastoral, snow-covered hill; it's an asphalt slope lined on both sides by parked cars. At the bottom of the hill, a quarter of a mile away, is a major intersection, and the traffic light down there is your finish line. Get the picture?

Your friend pats you on the helmet, gives you a mighty thrust toward Main Street, and-whoosh!-you are gravity's love slave. The asphalt is blazing two inches under your back, parked cars are screaming past your head, and you can't stop, you can't turn back, and right there, in that moment, there are only two words on your mind. What are they?"

Now, at this point, I'm sure you know what Steve said, "Oh Shit!", and thus, an OS!M is an Oh Sh*t! Moment. My OS!M came a few weeks ago, in that video you see under the Testing 1, 2, 3 post. I think you can see that expression on my face as I took those first steps in that test leg. As I mentioned earlier, I got my "official" leg last Wednesday, and each time I get up to walk anywhere, and experience that walk without the pain that used to accompany my every movement, I continue to have those OS!M's. I can only hope that these moments continue to come more and more frequently as I get my active lifestyle back.

Proving to others that you're providing proof to yourself basically consists of allowing others to participate in your own development as an Extreme Leader. Furthermore, allow others to be a part of your pursuit of these OS!M's. This is exactly what I have done throughout my recent journey, and I would be remissed if I did not mention all these individuals and express how much their participation has meant to me in this pursuit. First and foremost, my family has been with me every step of the way...literally. The look on my wife's face when I took those steps meant the world to me, and so too did the reaction my girls had when the saw me at the top of the stairs for the first time in my test leg, or the look on the faces of the folks at Darby as I've walked around the halls at school, and not to mention that overwhelming day in which they all wore the Stay Strong T-shirts in their support of me (yet another OS!M). Additionally, I must give major props to Dr. Lee and the great people at Orthopedic Foot & Ankle Center: Suzy; Katina; Lindsey; Mike; and everyone else at OFAC that has been there with me over the last 7 years. I must also acknowledge some of the great folks at American Orthopedics. In particular, Mike Hansen and all his work in making my prosthetic to fit my needs and lifestyle. Also, David Deluccia has proven to be a great source of support and information since the day I made the decision to have this surgery. Finally, there have been a great group of individuals that have "provided proof" to me that they are committed to me and my pursuit of the OS!M. People like Mark, Lou, Norma, Lidle, Napes, my parents, and MANY others that have been there for me every step of the way to lend a helping hand.

I apologize for such a long post, but a lot has happened to me since my last update. I promise to come back sooner with my next update. So, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

L.E.A.P. "The A"

It's been longer than I would like since my last update, and a lot has happened since then. This past Wednesday, I returned to my friends at American Orthopedics for another fitting of my prosthetic. After a few adjustments, I was out and about walking in the exam room, up and down steps, and up and down a ramp. Much to my surprise, I was allowed to take home my test leg to wear it around the house and note adjustments that I deem necessary when I return this upcoming Wednesday. As you can see above, I'm standing on my own two feet in my room, and let me tell you it feels great! Additionally, that evening I took my daughter Madelyn for a walk, hand in hand, around the block. Although the feeling of walking was great, the best part of my day was the pride I saw in my wife's face watching me take on the various tasks at American Orhopedics, and the excitement exhibited by my girls when they first saw me with my new leg. In fact, hearing Maya say "Daddy, you have two legs, did your leg grow back?" or seeing Madelyn jumping up and down for joy on the couch was priceless. With their support, and the support of my friends, I know I will overcome any adversity and soon become more active than I have been in a long time. This leads me to the topic of todays post.

The third essential quality of an Steve Farber utilizes to describe an "Extreme Leader" is represented by the A, in the acronym LEAP, Audacity. In fact, according to Edg:
"Audacity is 'a bold and blatant disregard for normal constraints.'"
I've always tried to lead my life by breaking through any constraints or overcoming adversities. However, doing these things myself is not what gives me the sense of being "audacious" in my leadership style. Instead, I feel more accomplished, a greater sense of pride, and much more productive when "my team" works together to complete the task at hand. Whether it's my family team, my work team, or a team of friends, I have always loved the feeling of team work. I mean there is no better feeling than forming a team; challenging the views of the naysayers, or those who say "that can't be done"; working together and reaching the goal or win. This is audacity, and this is what I hope to accomplish in all aspects of my life.

In my current journey, I will need the help of all those around me to challenge the norms and reach my goals. I have my first one set, The Outer Limits Triathlon, August 29th 2010 at 7:00am. I will compete in this traithlon in a relay format. I will swim the half mile course along the banks of the Anderson Concrete quarry, Mark Tremayne will bike the 16 mile course, and his wife Alicia will run the 5K. It is my hope that next year, the three of us can compete it this sprint triathlon again. Only this time, my goal is to complete the triathlon by myself, and I know they will be up to do the same.

Finally, I must give David Wess, the owner of Inkworkz Tattoo Studio, a big thank you. I met with him last night to discuss some tattoo designs I would like included in my first official prosthetic leg. He graciously accepted the challenge to incorporate a number of things that mean a lot to me in a tattoo format. I must say, it will be the easiest tattoo I will ever get (no sitting through the pain)...ha!!! As always, until we meet again, take care, remain positive, and stay strong!!!