Death as an Organizing Principle for Life. Part 2.

December 27, 2020

Death as an Organizing Principle for Life. Part 2.

May 29, 2023

As detailed in Part 1 of this interview yesterday, Dr. Danny received the news that he has terminal cancer, a grade 4 glioblastoma (GBM), the most aggressive form of primary brain cancer. This interview is meant to shine the light on the lessons Danny is experiencing in the 30+ days since he received his diagnosis as, while it’s impossible to predict his end of life, averages would suggest 15 months.

Chip: The psychologist Laura Carstensen’s work has shown that when people feel they have a finite period of time left to live, it creates a sense of presence about their present life that increases their happiness. Have you felt that and how has this diagnosis shifted your priorities in life?

Danny: Yes, very much so, Chip! In fact, given my shortened life span represents the ultimate midlife edit! It’s this sense of finite time that has moved me into what you’ve described at the MEA as what it means to be in full boom, flourishing as a Modern Elder.

The blessing of my brain cancer is that I have fully reprioritized my life, from focusing on “egosystem” success to “ecosystem” significance.

Consequently, I have never sensed such a depth of meaning and purpose. I am now feeling immensely blessed to be living a rich life feeling fully connected and tasting such sweet joy and deep contentment as a result. It’s a sense of intense fulfillment, living into the full bloom of a rich life well lived!

I will explain more how I’ve entered this world of flourishing abundance in reply to your next question.

Chip: What are the key lessons you want our Wisdom Well and MEA community to learn from this?

Danny: Simply this, the questions we ask--as David Cooperrider, the founder of Appreciative Inquiry, has said--creates worlds!

When I was admitted the night of my diagnosis from the ER to the ward alone (due to Covid precautions), my brain's first priority (being safety first) mindlessly raced in fear with the questions, such as, “What’s going to happen to my family?” “Why me?” “Why now?” These questions put me into a world of pain and suffering.

Miraculously, I was able to mindfully catch what my mind was doing. This gave me the wherewithal to consciously insert a series of generative questions that elevated me into the world of flourishing abundance I’m now experiencing. You can use these same questions with whatever suffering, inflection point or challenges you may be experiencing in your life right now.

Generative questions also have varying degrees of altitude, and if you ask one in thin air, it will lead to a series of answers and new questions below it, so that can touch down practically in your life with great meaning and impact.

At my point of greatest fear, the blessed high level question that created massive leverage in my life was, “What matters most now?”

This cascaded into the clear answer, “Make every moment count!”

Which naturally led to the next succinct question, “How?”

This led to two answers, each of which led to questions.

The first answer is to live intensely loving relationships, which leads to the question, “How?”

This touches down on the ground as my now being very intentional about giving and receiving love in every interaction I’m having, whether it be my family, friends, clients or Marina, who makes sure I get a warm blanket at my radiation therapy.

The second answer is to live more fully into and leave a legacy with my work. The practical “how” of this flows into the final answer of your series of questions, Chip, which I appreciate how you’ve so beautifully asked.

Chip: How can we support you?

Danny: My life’s purposeful work is coaching and training around my book, "Leading Well from Within," to share the science and practices that awaken Conscious Leadership. It’s a curriculum our family (my wife, Sue, our sons Zach and Dyl and I) have been living for several years. My brain cancer has catalyzed our now living even more fully into this work. Consequently, we are experiencing a new level of awakening of Conscious Leadership in our family.

One of the main ways our family is making meaning of this precious time is we want to share the rich lessons we are learning with other families (both home and work families) to inspire healing and growth around whatever adversity or challenges they may be facing too.

Consequently, soon after my diagnosis, we launched a YouTube channel called, Living Well from Within, with a playlist that you can binge watch as you would a “Netflix series.” This playlist serves as an ongoing real life human drama, only that it’s also filled with transformational lessons that facilitate healing, growth and flourishing wellness to elevate the lives of individuals, communities and humanity at large: https://bit.ly/LivingWellFromWithin

The magic of what’s unfolding is awe-inspiring and beyond anything I can claim credit for. I’m appreciating it as a cosmic script guided by the divine, and that I am being blessed to have this opportunity to faithfully serve.

For example, the Day 13 video, “Dyl connecting with Alexander McCobin to found the Teen Chapter of Conscious Capitalism” begins this day with him claiming this title in name only.

Then, on this same day there are a series of videos, culminating in Dr. Malone giving me my diagnosis of Grade 4 GBM. This precipitated our family’s grief response that caused Dyl to snatch his phone and shout, “I’m going to my room to shoot a video!”

Day 13 ends with the video, “Dyl making profound sense of the news” in which he claims the full embodiment of what it truly means to be a conscious leader as a teen.

Another example of this divinely guided script occurs on Day 25, in the video with Susie Ellis, the Chair of the Global Wellness Summit (GWS) and Global Wellness Institute (GWI). This takes things to a whole new level! To give you a sense of scale, the GWS is modelled after the World Economic Forum’s gathering in Davos, and this is the Davos for the Global Wellness Industry, where each year about 500 leaders “join together to shape the future” of the $4.5 trillion wellness economy.

I’ve been working with Susie for more than a decade on a few major initiatives including the creation of WellnessEvidence.com that has set the scientific foundation for the wellness industry. At the 2014 GWS in Marrakech, I presented the keynote on Conscious Leadership, just before they launched the GWI, to house all their initiatives (many of which overlap with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals) to “Empower Wellness World Wide.” This Day 25 video ends with Susie asking me to house our family’s Living Well from Within Initiative within the GWI.

This is game changing because this now provides us with the opportunity to convene world-leading influencers and organizations around this initiative, with the possibility that we can make a meaningful impact on elevating humanity. What has emerged through this Living Well from Within channel is that we are catalyzing a coalition to mobilize a movement that is engaged in the vital work of facilitating healing, growth and wellness to elevate humanity at this time of historic need and opportunity.

Consequently, this is far more than an unfolding story about our family. We also want to shine light beyond what we are experiencing to highlight the good work that many individuals and organizations are doing in the world to elevate others.

For us to be successful in shining a light on others that is sufficiently bright, numbers matter! We want to build a subscriber base for this channel that would ultimately ensure these videos would be seen by millions of people for us to all have collective influence together.

So far. I’ve had the blessed opportunity to shine a light on a number of extraordinary individuals and organizations.

So what I am asking from each of you reading this, is to please support me so that I can have sufficient influence to support you!

The call to action is very simple. If you feel moved by this mission please click the red subscribe button on the playlist page, or below any of the videos, and then also share this far and wide in your social networks with a call to action for others to subscribe too!

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