Everything is Survivable Once You’ve Survived.

June 3, 2024

Everything is Survivable Once You’ve Survived.

May 29, 2023

After swimming laps at my home last week on the Rising Circle Ranch, I sun-dried myself with my long, spindly legs dangling in the water taking in the quiet of the high desert of Santa Fe. I noticed hummingbirds and dragonflies darting around the pool, just like in Baja, as if they were distant cousins of the birds and insects I’ve befriended in the tropical climate of our Balinese-inspired home there. I took a few deep breaths and counted my blessings in the Land of Enchantment.

I was in a reflective mood given all that has happened the past year: a radical prostatectomy, hormone depletion therapy, 36 sessions of radiation, the launch of a book and the ranch campus, an epic alumni homecoming weekend, a reorganization of our MEA team, and all kinds of twists and turns in my relationships with family and friends. And, then, the news last week that I still have cancer inside of me…after all that. I will likely wind-down my hormone depletion therapy (and its toxic effects) in August at which time we’ll see - with no suppression of the cancer - where it is and how it might spread. Then, we’ll create a new treatment regimen. I’ll get through this and have a lot of confidence that I’ll reach my parents’ age or older (they’re both currently 86).

I’m reminded of the distillation of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in my book PEAK: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow. Maslow’s 5 levels can be summarized in three ways of being: survive, succeed, and transform. When we’re struggling in life, it’s easy to fall to the base of the pyramid, being in survival mode. Cancer is like gravity in that way: it weighs heavily so it's hard to imagine rising to the peak. While I will continue to focus on my physiological and safety needs, I aspire to see this cancer journey as a transformational experience. The more life feels fleeting, the more it feels precious and the more I notice the beauty of the hummingbirds and the dragonflies…as well as the love of my family and friends.

I’m writing this while spending the weekend with my two sons and their moms in a thunder-filled Houston storm. And, tonight we venture out to spend time with two-dozen Houstonian MEA alums at Hope Farms, co-founded by one of our alums Bob Cavnar, an experience that will remind me that life is not meant to just be survived. As psychologist Erik Erikson suggested, “I am what survives me.” I’m feeling a lot of legacy today. 

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-Chip

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