It was 5:30 p.m. on a bright spring day. The sun was shining, there was a warm breeze, and birds were chirping as I stepped into my car and drove to my last appointment of the day.
I was stopped at a left-turn lane about to turn into a side street. After the last car travelling straight had gone, seeing it was clear, I began my turn. I gapped in consciousness for half a second, and the next thing I knew, an oncoming vehicle crashed into mine.
My ribs crashed into the steering wheel and my back froze.
Suddenly, it was like in the movies. I became hyperaware and time slowed down. I was viewing the scene as though an outsider. Even though I couldn’t feel my body, I was still breathing. I looked over the other car and there were two young Asian male passengers, their eyes open, they were awake and they were upright. Our eyes met in “deer in headlights” gaze. For about a minute, I was frozen in my seat and didn’t know what to do next. It was my first motor vehicle accident in 15 years of perfect driving record.
Finally, I came back to reality and could feel initial soreness in my torso. The next 60 minutes was a blur of witnesses, tow truck, police, fire truck, insurance claim, and calling my appointment to tell them I wasn’t going to make it, and calling a friend for a ride home.
I was sore but I felt fine. I was shaken but I moved through the next two full days on a strange, surreal high.
Then, I woke up this morning and could barely get out of bed. The adrenalin had worn off.
It was like my personal story of hitting rock bottom four years ago all over again, except this time it was caused by an external event.
While I felt shaken up, I did not feel panic.
While it’s clear that my body had just experienced shock, I was surprised at my ability to remain calm and clear headed.
I confess that a part of me felt inconvenienced by this incident, and it took me some time to wake up to the fact that “Wow, I’m so lucky to be alive!”
Suddenly, my mile-long to-do list, any complaints, beefs and disagreements I’ve had with others, and even the fact that my body was in pain didn’t matter.
A brush with death gave me pause to consider what really matters.
What matters is my health and relationships with people who are dear to me.
When your priorities are clear, then decisions come much easier.
In this way, stress and trauma – especially the unexpected ones – can be good medicine.
So this morning, I thanked my body. I thanked it for its incredible built-in protection and healing capacities. I thanked myself for the 10+ years of yoga that I have practiced, other forms of movement such as dance, as well as the care and healing I’ve given it over the years through holistic and alternative treatments such as acupuncture and massage.
My body is strong and resilient, but it’s not indestructible.
I promised my body that I would be de-prioritize anything that is not honouring of its recovery for the next few weeks. The doctor said it may take three months to fully recover, though the first few weeks of intensive care is critical.
So many leaders, CEO’s and entrepreneurs are maxing out at epidemic rates.
What I love the most about what I do, besides the fact that I coach and mentor the most inspiring leaders and entrepreneurs on the planet, is that I enjoy guiding them when to speed up, when to slow down, building their own inner resilience to not only survive but thrive through all seasons and stages of business growth, so that they can weather any shocks and adversities that come their way.
It is humbling to be taking my own advice in times like these.
And now, I want to bring it back to you.
Where are you ignoring the signals that your body (and your business) is in trouble?
What would it take to truly honour what it’s trying to tell you?
You are a strong leader and entrepreneur, but you are not indestructible either!
Sometimes you have to slow down to speed up.
So, it is with regret that I postpone June 1st’s Roundtable Lunch event (interestingly, all about bouncing back from stress, burnout and trauma and being resilient!) to July 27th, but I will look forward to seeing you on June 29th for Mindful Time Management.
If this is hitting home for you and you’d like to chat about what’s really going on in your business, I invite you to schedule a 30-minute clarity call with me here.