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When the winds of change create unplanned resistance to your dreams, how do you stay even keel?

Leadership is about many things, including resilience. It’s important for good leaders to show up in ways that are consistently positive…so they can radiate goodness. But what happens when important things don’t go the way we planned?

Grieving, disappointment, and letting go

Within the past week, we’ve had amazing highs around here: a lot of new clients, projects, and investments that are beginning to shape our future. And we’ve had some tough decisions that tested our positivity. We said “goodbye” to a client who needs to go their own way without us. It was our decision to part ways, and it’s the right thing for both of us. But we’re still grieving the loss of the friendships, and our own separation from their mission. Grieving is good, because we care.

Another client postponed some exciting/innovative work until 2019. It’s totally OK, but we’re also mourning the loss of the thrill we were anticipating this summer. Disappointment is good, because we care.

Another client chose to bypass our recommendation and boldly launch into something we don’t think they are prepared to handle. It stings, because we believe our recommendation is the best path for people we really care about. But we are letting go, it’s good because we care.

Where is the goodness in this?

Good leaders can find the goodness in every situation – whether things go as planned or not.

I may sound like a broken record…but here’s how I stay even keel. It starts by asking the question:  “Where is the goodness in this?” It’s not the same as smiling our way through darkness. It’s not the same as pulling ourselves up by the boot straps. Finding the goodness is an intellectually honest exercise to find our sense of excellence, generosity, fairness, and positivity.

You might try it sometime: it may help you stay even keel when things don’t go your way.

Good leaders know how to find the goodness in every situation, whether things go as planned or not. And they learn to be intellectually honest in ways that keep them even keel.

Please share with me: How do you stay even keel?

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Anna Mary Batz graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College this past Saturday. Melinda and I are feeling successful.

This past Saturday, June 2, 2018, our youngest child, Anna Mary Batz, graduated from college. It was one of those moments where I really felt successful. What does that even mean? By whose definition of success would I make that statement? And why is it important to “feel successful?”

Yes, my work is important, but without a doubt parenting is the most satisfying part of my life. Melinda and I share many things, but mostly we share the idea that the behaviors of our children is an important measure of our own success. It’s important to both of us that Ben, Katie, and Anna make their lives count.

Articulating success

Anna’s grandfather, Richard Moen, started our Gustavus family tradition that is still thriving today.

Anna graduated Magna Cum Laude, with Honors and a Psychological Science Major. On her big day, she was surrounded by fierce friendships, amazing classmates, and an adoring family. Anna’s grandfather, Richard Moen, started our Gustavus journey in the 1950s. Melinda and I met there in the 1980s, and our kids attended in the 2010s. The feeling of momentum felt successful.

One of my mentors, Richard Leider, is the world’s most recognized authority on the power of purpose in the lives of leaders. In one of our early conversations, he shared this transformational idea with me, which I talked about on one of our first Goodness Pays Leadership Podcasts: The day you are OK with the idea – I would be satisfied with my life if today was my last day – is the day you really start living. This morning, I am thinking of the idea: “really start living.”

If I am truly feeling successful: Am I taking enough risk?

If I am satisfied if today was my last day: Have I said “thank you” enough?

If I am proud from the momentum: Are my goals big enough?

Savoring the feeling

Our big day started in Christ Chapel, with Anna singing her last commitment with the Gustavus Choir.

During the commencement ceremony, two simple and profound pieces of advice rang in my ears – collected from a series of intimate moments with people I admire.

1. We get out of life what we put into it.

2. If we live with goodness…it goes so fast, and it just keeps getting better!

Today the satisfaction is in the unity I feel with my wife, Melinda. We reached one of our life goals – to see all our kids thrive in college. For the rest of the week, I plan to replay the music of the weekend ring in my ears: The Music of Living, The Olympic Fanfare, and Pomp and Circumstance over and over again. Because it makes me feel successful.

Good leaders celebrate the moments that make them feel successful. And they use the positive momentum to build a better future.

Please share your congratulations to Anna Batz here.

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My colleague Julie McDonough was LLS Woman of the Year in Minnesota for her fantastic fundraising. Join me in celebrating!

Let’s start the summer with a celebration! Two weeks ago, the co-host of our Good Leadership Breakfast Series earned the “Woman of the Year” designation by the Leukemia Lymphoma Society of Minnesota. On Saturday, May 19, Julie McDonough claimed the stage in joyous, graceful elegance as a huge crowd cheered her name. Her smile was radiant and magnetic.

Goodness Pays

Julie’s Woman of the Year journey began when her two-year-old son Cole was diagnosed with Leukemia. As a family, they embraced the challenge and partnered with the healthcare system to give Cole every chance. “We are so fortunate to have a wonderful family support system, and a fantastic medical community in Minnesota that saves lives,” Julie shared with me. She told her story to the Good Leadership Breakfast guests in April, and asked for our help in fundraising.

What I saw was a woman on a mission: she hosted parties, involved family and friends, and approached business partners with an artful ask: “Would you help us raise money for kids and families who are facing Leukemia or Lymphoma in Minnesota? There are still kids who don’t get the support they need.”

Julies cheering section has “Julie on a Stick” at the Grand Finale event to celebrate her contributions.

And we helped! Julie’s contingency at the gala included more than 16 tables of ten people to support her at the Grand Finale event.  When the totals were announced, Julie raised more than $150,000 in a few short weeks to accept the title: Woman of the Year. Cade James Miller was the Man of the Year.

What’s possible?

Those of us living and working in the upper levels of society often lose sight of our wealth and privilege. But, when kids have blood cancer it brings us all back to the same level. So the philanthropic work of Julie McDonough is all about making sure kids and families of any economic situation can survive the journey, and look at their cancer in the rear view mirror.

What I admire about what Julie did the most is this: there are fundraising galas every weekend. Every one had a good cause, with good leadership. Julie stepped up in ways that were role-modeling the spirit of “what’s possible?” for everyone in her path. Her goodness was magnetic. We all saw it. Especially her son, Cole.

Julie McDonough (right) is the co-host of the Good Leadership Breakfast where she welcomes guests and introduces sponsors like Lisa Moncrief from Alerus.

Good leaders dedicate their lives to significant pursuits. And they engage people in the journey, because nothing significant ever happens alone.

Please join me in celebrating Julie McDonough, LLS Woman of the Year. You can

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Amanda Brinkman shared here message of goodness with a sold out Good Leadership Breakfast crowd last Friday.

“You need to make it good yourself,” a teacher and mentor told Amanda Brinkman. That’s how her brilliant career began. Amanda was the speaker at the Good Leadership Breakfast last Friday, May 18 – ending the Spring 2018 series. Today she is Chief Brand and Communications Officer for Deluxe Corporation, and her message “doing well by doing good” was well-defended and exceptionally well presented. Here’s what she shared with us last Friday:

“As a child, I was fascinated with the commercials on TV – everything about it, the production, the cameras, the talent, everything!” she said with a sparkle. “But, I confessed to a high school teacher that the advertising industry had a wrapper around it that was [dishonest.]” His answer shaped how she looks at everything today when he challenged her: “How can the industry get better if people like you don’t get involved. You need to make it good yourself!”

Cool career just keeps getting better

Amanda shared strategies for how advertisers could change the world with the $500 billion spent every year.

Her career journey included international PR and advertising jobs and several cool marketing roles before she landed the top marketing role at Deluxe Corp. Deluxe is a 100+ year old, publicly-traded company which made its mark as the dominant provider of printed, paper checks for personal and professional financial transactions. “While paper checks are still a big part of our business, it’s not where any future growth is going to come from. Our growth will come from advocating for, and promoting the health of, small businesses which are the backbone of America. We’re doing well, by being a good marketing partner,” she explained.

Amanda was a vibrant and entertaining speaker who was direct, honest, and funny in our interview.

Dressed in a brilliant blue dress with smashing shoes, Amanda dazzled guests with really big concepts: “More than $500 billion (half a trillion) is spent each year on advertising that lots of people just skip through. How many of the world’s problems could solve with $500 Billion?” she proposed.  “At Deluxe, we decided to help our small business clients improve their marketing to survive against the threats of big box retailers and internet shopping. It’s a really important cause, and we are growing because of that strategy.”

Goodness grows on TV

The strategy to help small businesses became the type of a television show she dreamed of producing as a child. “Today, the Small Business Revolution TV program distributed on Hulu is the highest watched program of its kind,” she smiled. She’s in love with the challenge, because she is both the producer and the on-screen talent. “We are spending our advertising dollars teaching small businesses – which largely exist on Main Street in small towns – how to grow. It’s a wonderful cause, and I am so grateful to have this job!” 

Sponsors Lisa Moncrief from Alerus (left) and Karen Kozak from Cargill (right) helped Amanda and me congratulate Candi Danek from Creatis who won the Bucket of Goodwill drawing.

Good leaders find ways to follow their passions in their work. And they thrive by making things better for more people every day in their career.

Please share with me: What does “doing well, by doing good” mean to you?

Purchase tickets to the Fall Good Leadership Breakfast here.

Congratulations to Candi from Creatis who won the Bucket of Goodwill. With audience contributions of $5,330, our total contributions exceeding $250,000 since we began – that’s a quarter million dollars!

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An African Safari was the #1 item on my Bucket List, after starting my own firm. The giraffes were breathtaking.

What we concentrate on grows. Ten years ago this month, I started concentrating on the idea that I needed to start my own firm. It took me 18 months, with the help of a good friend, to take action. If you read The Bucket List Book, you know that after starting my own firm, the #1 item on my list was an African Safari. It was #1 because I knew the firm had to be successful for me to take a month off to make the Safari happen.

Carpe diem – a big family trip

The Batz Family, loaded up and ready for adventure in our Land Cruiser. It felt like Jurassic Park!

The dream came true this past March when our friend Debbie Rigby invited the whole Batz family to participate in her wedding – hosted in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. A wonderful travel planner, Remarkable Journeys, helped us find the Kichaka Luxury Game Reserve inland from the Eastern coast. The setting was the most enchanting place I’ve ever been, and the safari was the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Here’s why:

As an urbanite, I’m accustomed to freeways, sidewalks, and office buildings framing my daily routine. The South African Savannah provided a totally uninhibited, 360-degree skyline over mountains, valleys, forest, and endless grassland. The three-hour Land Cruiser rides at sunrise and sunset provided a technicolor backdrop for the main event.

Within 30 minutes, we found a pair of adult lions. Wow. That’s when my Bucket List moment became real.

“What animal do you want to find first?” our guide (and protector) David asked? “Lions!” we sang in chorus. Less than 20-minutes later we found a pair of fully grown, black-maned brothers who were resting after a mid-day kill. Game on! After that we found every animal we expected, except the elusive leopard which is only seen by 5% of safari-goers. With David’s artful navigation we encountered thousands of antelope and zebra, and dozens of elephants and giraffes. We tracked a rare rhinoceros pair with a newborn (under the watchful eye of professional anti-poaching patrol.) We marveled at water buffalo, and laughed at the playful hippopotamus, who teased one another in a muddy watering hole.

Aspirational thinking: the currency for good leaders

By happenstance, our first day on safari was also my 55th birthday. The Kichaka staff sang and danced the traditional Xhosa birthday greeting, followed by a scrumptious homemade chocolate birthday cake.

What does a Bucket List Safari have to do with good leadership? It’s a reasonable question. The simple act of making a Bucket List is an exercise in aspirational thinking. Good leaders do that. And when we concentrate on achieving those aspirations, our leadership grows.

Good leaders have bold aspirations tied to personal goals. And they concentrate on making all of the changes in their lives to make those aspirations come true.

Back at the office, I immediately began setting new goals and sharpened our business plans, because new adventures await. Please share with me: How are you planning your dreams?

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Amanda Brinkman, Chief Brand & Communications Officer for Deluxe Corp, is the speaker at the May Good Leadership Breakfast next week.

If goodness radiates from leaders who are in a good place – both personally and professionally – then Amanda Brinkman is the perfect person to close the spring Good Leadership Breakfast Series. She’s our speaker next Friday, May 18, because of how she leads in her day job as Chief Brand and Communications Officer at Deluxe Corp, and for how she leads her life as a parent and champion for charities and small businesses. Her recent TEDx talk illuminates her brilliance, and confirms my claim that she comes from “a good place.”

A few tickets are available here to meet Amanda Brinkman, on Friday, May 18, at Golden Valley Country Club.

Disruptive change at Deluxe

The business story behind Amanda’s impact as a leader is compelling. Deluxe Corp is a century-old publicly-held company that made it’s reputation printing paper checks for financial transactions. The convergence of credit cards, electronic and online banking quickly threatened the company’s livelihood. In search of a new strategy to revitalize the outlook of the company, Amanda was a crusader to help Deluxe executives and Board understand the idea that their path forward was to embrace the needs of America’s small businesses as a core value driver.

Amanda’s TEDx talk: Doing Well by Doing Good is a great testimony on how goodness pays.

“Yes, our small business customers still need checks,” Amanda explains. “But the opportunity is to stand alongside those customers in a way that’s more than just selling them things. They need marketing help to survive against the online and big box retailers who threaten their day-to-day survival.”

Standing alongside customers

What’s transpired for Amanda is a personal brand – doing well by doing good – that embodies her approach to live. “Goodness was always a part of how I was raised – getting involved, and giving back,” she explained. “But, I always had a fascination with TV, and the business of advertising, which seemed to be at odds with business!” So, it’s not surprising that Amanda found a way to bring her passions together at Deluxe.

A recent Women@Forbes article highlighted Amanda’s incredible career, and shared the inside story of her role as the creator of the Small Business Revolution – Main Street online TV series. The amazing success of the program has made Amanda a TV rock star, and a media darling. And more importantly, she has helped Deluxe Corp have a seat-at-the-table in the major media, and in congress, about the needs of small businesses in America. “It’s so fun, because what we are doing right now is a culmination of many of my life goals – doing good for people, changing people’s lives, and we are using our advertising money to do good.”

Amanda was one of the interviews Paul Hillen and I did for the How Goodness Pays book project, it should be no surprise we are featuring the Deluxe Small Business Revolution story, as one of the signature stories. We can do well, by doing good.

Good leaders blend their personal and professional lives to follow their dreams. And they succeed when they focus on standing alongside their customers and do more that just selling them things.

Please share with me: How does your job help you do good?

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My son, Ben, and I rose long before dawn to climb Lion’s Head Peak, so we could get a sunrise view of Cape Town, South Africa on my sabbatical. The “hike” was a trigger for me to improve my fitness.

The Seven Fs Wheel is a central tool in how we teach leaders the fine art of intellectually honest self-reflection. Assessing our own satisfaction on our faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future can produce powerful insights to stimulate renewal – if we pay attention. I think of the Seven Fs Wheel as an invitation to “Carpe diem” (Seize the day).

Three weeks of international travel forced intellectually honest self-reflection… a “4” on fitness needs to change.

If you follow this blog you know that I recently returned from a 5-week sabbatical, which included a 3-week trip to South Africa with my family. It was the trip of a lifetime, during which I celebrated my 55th birthday while on Safari at the spectacular Kitchaka Game Reserve. Prior to the sabbatical I set three specific goals: 1) be 100%  present with my family, 2) take care of myself, 3) listen to myself think.  It was the combination of #2 and #3 which resulted in my Seven Fs “ah-ha!” moment. I’ll explain:

Mountain Top Insight

At sunrise on our 4th day in the enchanting city of Cape Town, my son Ben and I rose before 5AM to climb Lion’s Head Peak – we wanted to watch the sunrise over one of the world’s greatest cities. The journey included a 20-minute cab ride to the base of the climbing trail, and another 45 minutes of hard hiking/climbing – in the dark. The final 200 vertical feet was hand-over-head, ladder-style climbing on rocks – in the dark. It tested my physical strength, my basic flexibility, and my courage.

Ben and I enjoyed the Lion’s Head descent, with the beaches of Cape Town and the Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

The rewards at the top were too many to count. It wasn’t Kilimanjaro…but I shared the sunrise with my son, half way around the world. We blended every one of the Seven Fs together: faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future. The trip back down was equally difficult, and as I felt the soreness creep into my back, and knees, and shoulders I found this insight: If I want to climb Lion’s Head with one of my grandchildren (someday), it’s time to seriously improve my fitness.

A pre-dawn selfie outside of Farrell’s on the first day of Week #4.

Carpe diem – kickboxing!

In a separate storyline, my daughter Katie is getting married to Maxwell Bowell in November of this year. Prior to leaving for South Africa, she asked me if I would be her accountability/exercise partner in a 10-week kickboxing program at Farrell’s Extreme Bodyshaping Class. So the next day I committed to Katie, and kickboxing. To cement the commitment, when I returned home I found a Buy One Get One Free coupon at the top of the stack of mail. (A not-so-subtle-sign?)

As I write this, we are mid-way through our 4th week. Holy cow it’s intense! We go to the gym 6 days a week.

About 25 of our classmates stumble into the gym before dawn at 6AM, for 45 minutes of high intensity interval training, including the basics of kickboxing, combined with upper and lower body resistance training. I am finding soreness, and satisfaction in muscles I didn’t even know I had. I’m watching people in their mid-20s struggle…I can’t imagine what they are thinking as they watch this mid-50s guy with a beer gut struggle! Carpe diem?

This bag is kicking the snot out of me. But I like it.

I realize self-care is much more than the “fitness” part of The Seven Fs…however, for me it’s my highest priority. The kickboxing is blending faith (in myself), family (with Katie), friends (new ones), fun (yes, I like it!), future (longevity?) with fitness. And the 50% off coupon also includes finances.

Good leaders listen to themselves think as they self-assess on faith, family, finances, fitness, friends, fun, and future. And they seize the day to get better and grow…with the future in mind.

Please share with me: What does self care mean to you?

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Erik Gabrielson explained his fear in the quest to help his son Kieran survive CDH at birth. His wife Moira – Kieran’s mom – shared the moment from the stage.

The final words from last Friday’s Good Leadership Breakfast speakers, Erik Gabrielson and Moira Petit were pointed and relevant to all: “What fear holds you back?” The roundtable discussion which followed provided amazing insights for the people who shared. Many said rejection, or introspection, and even running out of money was holding them back from being the best person they can be. Most leaders say they fear losing control – of their jobs, their authority and their lives.

The story Erik and Moira shared was their partnership in helping their son Kieran survive a dire diagnosis, and then thrive through the next 9 years of surgeries and complicated healthcare interventions. Born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia – CDH, Kieran was born without the ability to breathe. “My life changed instantly when I saw our child taken from my wife’s abdomen and rushed off into another room where four nurses and surgeons were waiting to keep him alive,” Erik told 220 people attending the breakfast. “I was reduced to an observer, because before the Cesarean Section procedure I signed a whole bunch of papers giving all of my parental decision-making rights to the doctors.” He gave up control, and acknowledged his fear.

Letting go, to help Kieran grow

Erik and Moira shared their thoughts about handling more than $1 million in fees associated with Keiran’s infant medical bills. They focused on gratitude.

Erik and Moira shared a wonderful love story about how they partnered with amazingly competent infant care-givers to help Kieran grow through a very small chance of surviving. “For me, the key was letting go. Letting go of my pretenses for what a good parent should be doing. Instead, I had to just learn to love him for what he is today,” shared Moira. “Every day I have to let go of my self-centered fears and focus on what Kieran needs. Sometimes that’s really hard!”

Then one day the nurse said: “Tomorrow Kieran will be going home with you!” They were not prepared! No crib, no supplies, no thought about how to accommodate all of the complexities of an infant who needed extraordinary care and attention. The small army of care-givers left Erik and Moira on their own. More fear.

Happy ending

The theme of the day: Nothing Significant Ever Happens Alone. I thanked 33 people who helped make the breakfast happen in March while I was gone.

Today, Kieran is a thriving nine-year-old boy who loves to share the tic-tac-toe board of scars on his abdomen. And Erik and Moira have a riveting story of courage, partnership, love, fear and overwhelming gratitude they are sharing with audiences inside and outside the hospital industry.

The theme for the meeting was: Nothing Significant Ever Happens Alone. Returning from my sabbatical, I echoed their gratitude for all of the people who helped them. Although not nearly as significant, I read the names of 33 people – not including sponsors or ticket holders – who worked together to make the March breakfast happen without me.

Good leaders pull people together to make significant things happen. And they work through their fears by believing in what’s possible, and sharing their gratitude for everyone who helps.

Please share with me: What fears hold you back?

Congratulations to the winner of the Bucket of Good Will winner Linda Dolan, who gave $4514 to the Play for Patrick Foundation.

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The pool deck at Kichaka Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa gave me a great place to listen to myself think.

How time flies. This morning, I’m returning to my work at Good Leadership Enterprises from a sabbatical. The word “sabbatical” means many things, but for me it meant significant time off – a deliberate “pause” to let go of the daily pressures of being a business owner, to rest, to enjoy my family to the fullest, and to listen to myself think. My pause included three days at home to prepare for 21-days of vacation and travel with my family in South African, followed by another 9 days of free time at home again. (I will write more about our adventures in the coming weeks.)

Looking back, here’s the best way for me to think about the value of a sabbatical: when my iPhone or my MacBook gets frozen or temperamental, the best strategy is to just shut it down for awhile. It needs rest. 99% of the time, when I return to the device and turn it back on again, the technical glitch causing my angst is fixed. Magically, the pause is the fix.

My sabbatical strategy

The benefits of taking real time off are well-described in this issue of Spirituality and Health, featuring Maria Shriver.

Much has been written about how to take time off. Two things specifically shaped my approach: first, a book by Twin Cities executive coach Kevin Cashman called THE PAUSE PRINCIPLE: Step Back to Lead Forward, and more recently the writings and media appearances by Kennedy-family descendant (and ex-wife of Arnold Schwarzeneggar) Maria Shriver. Both advocate for time away from the office, with specific goals. Here were my three goals: 1) Be fully present with my family. 2) Take good care of myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. 3) Listen to myself think.

So, I shut off my laptop, left it at the office, and walked out the door. For the first time in my life I left my work behind without any worry. Nothing significant ever happens alone. We have a great team, and they wanted me out of their hair!

Captured thoughts

Here’s some of the thoughts I heard myself say while I was gone:

I am grateful. Grateful for the amazing people in our lives who help make our dreams come true. The theme “nothing significant ever happens alone” was an affirmation that we have a great team.

Two weeks in Africa with my family was indescribably satisfying.

Family is the best investment. Melinda and I found watching our adult children radiating goodness with people half-way around the globe was gratifying beyond description.

I needed to shut down. After 8 years of growing and pruning the Good Leadership Enterprises tree, I had reached a point where I was a little frozen in my thoughts and temperamental in my approach. I needed to shut down for awhile.

I love to work. Really. I love the work of building a business whose mission is spreading goodness through good leadership. And I also love to work in my free time – building things in my workshop, working on my fitness, working on my relationships, and planning the next family trip. I’m not happy without a to-do list, and that’s OK.

Carpe diem.

So, this week, it’s no surprise that being “back in the office” actually means going out on the road. I’m speaking today at a conference in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, returning later in the week to host the Good Leadership Breakfast. I’m happy to be back!

Good leaders recognize the importance of time off to pause from the daily pressures we put on ourselves. And they seize the golden opportunity to grow by listening to themselves think.

Please share with me: what do you hear, when you listen to yourself think?

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Moira and Erik are business partners, who also share an amazing parenting journey with their son Kieran.

Erik Gabrielson and Moira Petite were fiercely independent people who fell in love. They met in a “triathlete club.” Erik was an adventure junky, Moira a University Professor. “Having children wasn’t on my list,” shrugged Erik. “It wasn’t not on my list either,” confirmed Moira. Then, along comes Keiran – a miracle child who was born into a life of medical marvels and whose parents learned to work together to influence the healthcare system.

The story of Kieran Gabrielson, as told by his parents Erik and Moira, will warm the hearts of Good Leadership Breakfast guests on Friday, April 20.

Fiercely independent parenting

It was the words: “I recommend you terminate the pregnancy,” where their story really begins. At the April 20 Good Leadership Breakfast, Erik and Moira will share their personal leadership journey, a story of love, persistence and fiercely independent parenting.

At 20-weeks into the pregnancy, the doctors identified a serious problem with the development of Kieran’s internal organs. Afflicted with CDH (Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia), the left side of his diaphragm didn’t form, which meant his intestines and liver where up in his chest, which meant his lungs didn’t develop – which meant he couldn’t breathe. That’s not good if you intend to live.

Kieran survived dozens of surgeries to live a life of adventure as his parents imagined.

Fighting, and letting go

The doctors told the couple their child has a severe case of CDH, he won’t likely survive, and if he lives, he will have a difficult life and a million complications. For Erik, that’s where the fight began. For Moira, “that’s when I started letting go. This child was alive in me. And he was going to live a full life, I had to be fully present as his mother to give that a chance.”

Snowboarding serves Kieran’s need for speed – something children who survived trauma often crave.

Today, Kieran is living the life of adventure his parents imagined, he loves skateboarding and snowboarding. Not surprising, he’s also a wily veteran of the healthcare system. And he’s the beneficiary of parents who are continuous care-givers, and partners in a leadership consulting firm called Activ8 – where they share this story for good.

In their presentation to the Good Leadership Breakfast guests, they will share their insight about receiving Kieran’s two big gifts: 1) the diagnosis, and 2) his birth. “Up until the diagnosis, I wasn’t tuned into the life in my wife’s stomach. I became connected with him and her, and it completely changed me,” shares Erik.

He continues, “Kieran taught me more in the first minute of his life than I’ve learned in the rest of my life combined. That’s when I got to the ‘letting go’ part. I signed all of the papers giving up all of the parental rights to the doctors. That changed me as a father. I had to believe in him, and other people, in ways that I didn’t think were possible.”

Erik spends most weekend days in the winter on the slopes with Kieran.

Happy return

I’m looking forward to greeting Erik and Moira, and our breakfast guests on Friday, April 20. I will be returning from a month-long sabbatical, after visiting South Africa and leaving my laptop behind.

Good leaders embrace the mysteries of life as a challenge. And they work together in ways that make great things possible.

Please share with me: What mysteries of life challenge you for the better?

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