Do not be afraid. Be great to yourself; be great to others. Live with courage, boldness, and passion. Live as though you were never going to die. Take responsibility for your time, energy, commitment, and focus. Be great.
For the past five weeks I’ve been writing about healthy self-care. I’ve talked about being grateful, gracious, generous, gentle, and grounded. If I could summarize everything I’ve written and everything I believe about healthy self-care in a single sentence, it is this: be great to yourself and be great to others. It’s that simple. It’s that hard.
The two are interconnected. Healthy self-care is never one or the other. Being great to yourself, and yourself alone, is nothing but selfishness. Being great to others, and always to others, is nothing but martyrdom. Healthy self-care is doing both, and doing both well.
I know a woman • Joy Rockwell • who, in addition to holding down a regular full-time job, is the number one fundraiser in the nation for the American Diabetes Association through their annual America’s Walk for Diabetes program. Listen to her inspiration and passion:
“In 1987, I was involved in a terrible car accident in which my right foot was severed and my kids were in comas for months. Doctors told me they would reattach the foot as best they could, but that I’d probably never walk without a limp or crutches. After 12 surgeries, I learned to walk again. About the same time of my last surgery my husband found out he had diabetes. That weekend, while in the pharmacy picking up my husband’s insulin, I saw the America’s Walk for Diabetes brochure. It reminded me that there are others out there that need help…I wasn’t the only one down and out. Besides, I wanted to prove that I could walk again. That was the beginning of my love affair with the Walk. It’s become a big part of my life.”
In the past six years, Joy has single-handedly raised more than $100,000. She’s done it for herself. She’s done it for her husband. It has become her passion. And it has made her great. As Benjamin Disraeli wrote back in 1944, “People are only truly great when they act from the passions” (Coningsby).
And then there’s the story of Lance Armstrong who for the second time in two years prepares to ride again this weekend around the Champs-Elys•es in Paris wearing the yellow jersey that symbolizes victory in the Tour de France • arguably the most challenging and grueling of all athletic endeavors. Lance is not only a phenomenal athlete, he’s also a cancer survivor • having once been given less than a 3% chance of surviving testicular cancer that had metastasized throughout his body, including his brain. Listen to his inspiration and passion.
“I was near the end of the journey. But there had been two journeys, really: the journey to get to the Tour, and then the journey of the Tour itself.”
“The truth is, if you asked me to choose between winning the Tour de France and cancer, I would choose cancer. Odd as it sounds, I would rather have the title of cancer survivor than winner of the Tour, because of what it has done for me as a human being, a man, a husband, a son, and a father.”
“In those first days after crossing the finish line in Paris I was swept up in a wave of attention, and as I struggled to keep things in perspective, I asked myself why my victory had such a profound effect on people. Maybe it’s because illness is universal • we’ve all been sick, no one is immune • and so my winning the Tour was a symbolic act, proof that you can not only survive cancer, but thrive after it. Maybe, as my friend Phil Knight says, I am hope.”
“I would just like to say one thing,” Lance told the press in the finish area, choking back tears. “I’m in shock. I’m in shock. I’m in shock. If you ever get a second chance in life for something, you’ve got to go all the way.” (It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, G. P. Putnam’s Sons • New York, 2000).
Do you get it? Vauvenargues, a French soldier and moralist, wrote in 1746: “To achieve great things we must live as though we were never going to die” (R•flexions et maximes). Jesus put it another way: “You will not live in the reign of God, unless you become like little children.” Perhaps that’s why, as Lance observes, children with cancer have higher cure rates than adults with cancer: “Adults know too much about failure; they’re more cynical, resigned, and fearful.”
Don’t let that happen to you. Be great to yourself; be great to others. Live with courage, boldness, and passion. Live as though you were never going to die. Take responsibility for your time, energy, commitment, and focus. Be brave. Be grateful, gracious, generous, gentle, grounded, and great.
May you be filled with goodness, peace, and joy.
Bob Tschannen-Moran, MCC, BCC