Goals suck, missions lead to success!

Over the course of a month, I talk with hundreds of survivors or caregivers. I never attempt to tell someone what will work, or what will not, we simply talk and share our story. With that being said, there is a trend that I have seen over the last three to four years, GOALS SUCK!!
This came to light yesterdays in a conversation where I was challenged on my thought process about goals vs. missions. When you really sit down and look at the difference between the two, it is hard to argue that a mission will lead to success/results more often than not.

A goal is something that we all have or have had throughout our entire existence, and I am willing to bet that most of those goals never came to fruition. A goal can be realistic or not realistic at all, and there is no path in place to accomplish a goal, in my opinion that leads to failure or not reaching that goal.

A mission, on the other hand, is not just a thought and a hope for success. A mission is a thought out result that requires planning and requires action to achieve the result wanted.

I will use the example of a police officer. Almost every young boy says that he wants to be a police officer or a firefighter when they are growing up. That can be followed in two ways. One way is simply to say that I hope to be a police officer some day. That in simple terms is a goal, most likely wont happen. The second way is to make it a mission with planning and well thought out actions. Those actions could include college courses that may be needed for the job, first responder training, weapon safety, staying in top physical conditions, and being comfortable with speaking to people from all walks of life.

As a survivor, we all have our sights set on the best outcome for ourselves and everyone around us. If I would have set my recovery success as goals instead of missions, and not held myself accountable for succeeding or failing the missions, I would not have been able to get back to where I am today.

I hope that you take away from this that by setting goals, you are cheating yourself from results, missions lead to success!!


Take a look at yourself

It seems like there is a common thought that I have heard a lot of lately. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I am talking to someone individually or if there is a group of people. The common thread is success. Everyone defines success based on the success that other people have accomplished or failed at. How often do we sit back and define success on the things that we have done in our own life. The small things to the biggest success in our life. Take a moment and think about that and see what you come up with for success and what you may think have been failures.

I will give you my take and you will either see me as crazy or think “hmm never thought about it like that.”  If there is a supposed failure I will insert it behind each failure. When I was 12 years old I played Little League and I made the all-star team. I chose not to play at age 13 because I was afraid I would not be as good when I played with the older kids. I started playing me’s softball at the age of 15 and was a pitcher and catcher. I had a rocket for an arm to the point where not many players would attempt to steal on me. I was a senior in high school when I decide to join the military. I became a paratrooper with 58 jumps and went to War by the time I left 6 years later. I became a firefighter and got the first full time opening available. I then was promoted to Lt. at the next open position. I am a state fire instructor, a state water rescue instructor. I am good at my job. My wife and I have been married for 24 years. We have raised two wonderful daughters. I am very easy to get along with. I have been to Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Italy. Germany, the Netherlands, Kuwait, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. I was sent to New Orleans Louisiana with another firefighter from our dept. Our dept was requested from the state fire commissioner to send two personnel. I was the first to put my hand up even though I knew we were going straight in to hell when we got there. I coached girls softball for 11 years from the little league level up to the high school level. That is a pretty big list of success I only listed one failure. I see what most people see as failure as a lesson and an opportunity to improve.

I have been faced with a tremendous hurdle when it comes to a TBI. I felt like a failure. I thought that I was letting my family down, my friends down, my employer down, and my community down because they rely on us when they are having a bad day. I often sat in my house and felt sorry for myself and telling myself that I did not deserve this after the life that I have lived and being a part of helping people. I came. Once I allowed myself to snap out of my own pity party I saw that I had a bigger purpose in my life and success was right in front of my nose I just didn’t want to see it. I survived my injury because my work here is not done yet. I have had to change my course a little bit but I see that as a success. I have started this blog to share my experience and I know for a fact that I have helped people. They have emailed me and told me how I have. That is a huge success. I belong to a TBI support group where I share my experiences with the survivors and the caregivers. It is only my experience and I do not pretend to have the answers for others, just my experience. I get on that page every single morning and say “Today is going to be AWESOME because…….” then I fill in the blank. Others have responded to it by sharing how their day is going to be AWESOME. That is a great thing to hear!!! I talk daily online to numerous people that just want to be heard. I gave a presentation at the PA Brain Injury state conference and I loved every minute of it. To me that is the definition of success. I dont care what kind of cars people drive or the house that they live in. That is only the shell of successful people.

I want to wrap this up by saying that you may think I am puffing out my chest and talking about myself. That is exactly what I am doing. I have been a success and I am proud to share it in my mind and with the blogging world. Take a look at yourself and I bet you will find the same AWESOME success that I have in your own life!!!


Started the week awesome!!

This week I was attempting to turn the page and become the most bad ass awesome guy that I know I can be. I was trying to get on a page that I belong to and attempted to help as many people as I could by starting every morning by saying “I am going to be AWESOME today by…..

I have been successful in some ways and very unsuccessful in others. I have been striving for other to say why they are going to be awesome each and everyday. I have 2 or three people that are catching on. There is well over 1000 members on this page that are either the injured, or the caregivers. My goal as a very lucky man by surviving and recovering so well was to help others. I feel like I have dropped the ball. I have not been writing on this page as much as I promised to, and i am not accomplishing my goals that I have set for myself. I love my wife more than anything on this Earth but because of me dropping my goals off in the ditch I get very frustrated easily. I hear all of the excuses from other people. My wife is not one of them but it goes like this. “You are over reacting. It is just in your head, you are stressed, you should feel grateful that you are alive. Well no shit Sherlock. It is in my head, I am stressed, sometimes I do overreact but not until minutes or hours afterwards do I see it that way. People seem to think that they know what they are talking about. Walk a mile in the shoes of a person with this injury and you would be shocked. There is so much unknown about the brain, let alone a brain injury. Every injury is different and it isn’t feasible for these very well trained and educated people to live the injury. My neurologist is awesome and I love him to death, but I wish I could put him in my position to make him an even better neurologist. He is the best in the business but there is so much to be learned about brain injuries.

I also get frustrated because there is no awareness or education out there for people to see. You hear about an athlete getting a concussion or other injuries because it sells. The media is so worried about making money and selling stories that mean something nearly nobody. Michelle Obama holding a sign that I am sure she did not come up with the idea let alone write the sign herself. Give me a break. Why dont she take that time and do something useful. I do not mean talk about brain injuries either. I would be  really upset if that happened. Can anyone who is not the injured or caregiver tell me what color the ribbon is for TBI? I bet less than 3 in a hundred can do it. I love the fact that cancer gets so much attention because it deserves it. If we could get 10 percent of that attention we would be much further ahead than we are now. Someone needs to stand up and be the voice and take action to make this happen. Not one of us can do it alone, but as a team and as a solid bunch that will not break or settle for the word “no” we can and will make a difference. I started this week as an awesome fake to myself. I am going to try my best to make this happen. “WHO IS WITH ME?’

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Draw the caregivers line somewhere

I would like to talk about a subject that is very hard to talk about and I am afraid that I am going to make some people mad with this, but I always said that I will post with honesty. Recently I have been in a downward spiral as you should be familiar with by now. My family has done everything that they can to help me bust out of it, but honestly there is nothing they can do. It is a process that takes time. Sometimes a day or two other times it takes months.

I have a very unique situation. My wife and I are friends with my neurologist and nurse practitioner. There are times when I will say things to my wife that may sometimes scare her, but I do it in the comfort of our home in my safe space. When some of those comments go to the people that care for me without me knowing it can be very frustrating and give a really bad feeling leading to anger. I know that she is doing it for the right reasons. She has been a neurological nurse for years and she knows a red flag when she sees one. With that being said, should I not be the one that knows if a red flag goes up and not just the results of a bad day.

On one occasion when it came to my recent depressed moods, a caregiver told my wife that maybe I need to stop feeling sorry for myself. I love this caregiver as if she was a sister to me which made it even worse. Not only was this being said as a caregiver but I also saw it as an attack from someone that I love and respect. Where does this leave me. It is a very confusing track to ride on when your spouse works 100 feet away from your caregivers on a daily basis.

Fortunately for me I have recovered very well from and accident that should have killed me. I am pretty normal for the most part. i have feelings like a man and do not like to be ambushed from all sides because of that. If I feel like I am being pushed into a corner or ambushed there are only two ways to escape. I can either back down and give in and say “yes you are right”, or I can come out of that corner swinging  (figuratively speaking) to show them that I am not weak and that I can take care of myself. I am not so naive to think that I am 100% normal or that I ever will be. It shows itself to me daily that I am not in one way or another. The problem comes when someone actually says “I know what you feel and what you are going through.” Bullshit. Unless you have had my injury and been in my head you do not know what I am thinking or how I feel. All of the those diplomas on your wall do not make you an expert on human feelings on all cases. You ask anyone that knows anything about brain injuries, they will tell you that each case is different. therefore until you have cared for every case, you will not know. I agree that those diplomas are life savers and are very necessary for the injured to improve and continue to improve in life. Please do not think that I am bashing education. without those Dr’s. I would not have survived my TBI.

In closing I am just going to leave it like this. If you are a caregiver and you are going to spill the beans to a medical professional about a conversation you had with your injured it would be very wise for you to keep that to yourself.


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A different outlook on a critical injury

A couple of days ago I had an email conversation with a very nice and smart fellow blogger. She said that if there was a way for me to show a different point of view to this injury that it may shed a little more light to a complicated time in someone’s life. I am going to take that conversation to heart and I am going to try to do that in this post. I am going to attempt to explain what I saw as my families reaction, as well as actual reactions that my family had.  Everything that I have written in this blog to this point has been shoot from the hip style of writing. I sat down with the lap top and I went after it. This post is going to be a little different. It may take me a day or two to tell this point of view in an effort to be as clear and concise as possible. Please be patient. Hopefully it will not be too long and still hit all the points I want to hit.

The first part of this is the obvious. A families reaction to this type of injury or life changing event as I say sometimes will be the same for everyone. You will be afraid, confused, worried, tearful, mad, and sad. You will ask “why has this happened to our family?” Of course there is no answer that you will hear that you will make you as a family feel better or understand such a quick and unexpected tragedy. You will do everything within your power to make it go away. The only thing that will make it go away is time, compassion, understanding, and the ability to accept what has happened and look forward to better days. Sometimes I suppose that won’t even work, but remember I am only speaking from my families experience.

The second part of this is a little more complicated to understand unless you are the one who has had the injury. There are going to be alot of emotions running through your head, and as much as you the family are trying to help an injured adult, they may think that you are holding them back or treating them like a little child. I had alot of these emotions going through my head for sure once I was able to use my brain again for something productive. What a family or spouse needs to understand is everything that you are doing for the best of reasons may be beating the injured one down in their mind. I am not saying that is the truth, I am just saying that when I was injured I had those feelings. I was full of guilt thinking that this was my fault, also for my children to have to watch me when my wife was at work. I had to be followed around the house when I stood up. I had to have my food brought to me, I had to be bathed, and actually dried off and dressed because I could not bend over to put my own socks on without excruciating pain. This causes alot of guilt for a man that is used to going to work everyday  providing for his family. I was the rock that all of my family depended on. Now I am literally a rock that can’t get off the couch by himself.  I was full of grief for seeing my family in so much emotional pain. I tried to make it all go away for them.  Actually I was making it worse by trying to do too much which scared them and made them work harder.

As a family caregiver, you may get yelled at alot. “I can do it myself” or “just leave me alone” were common for me. Leaving me alone was nothing more than just stop talking to me for a few minutes. When this kind of injury hits your family remember that the only thing the injured may have control of their opinion. Do not take their opinion away from them. You don’t have to agree with it, just acknowledge it. The injured may want to speak for an hour at a time about things that have no relevance or may not want to talk all day. I wanted to talk so badly about what I was feeling but I felt that it would cause more grief to my family. I stayed to myself about it which made me withdraw completely some days. Its ok if they decide not to say much today. Its ok if they get a little angered, or frustrated, or sad, you most likely have done nothing wrong. It is a cycle that I went through that had no rhyme or reason.

I did do things that I was not proud of of. Most of it I have no recollection of because of the nature of my injury but it did happen.One that stands in my mind is a story that my wife has told me on a couple of occasions and I do have vague memory of. She had taken my medication and hid them because I was messing them up and taking the wrong ones at the wrong times. She would get the proper pills out and give them to me when needed. When I first went to get my pills and they weren’t there and she told me what she had done, I picked up a large down throw pillow from the couch raised it above my head and slammed it to the floor. I have been married for 23 years and my wife has never been afraid of me. She told me that she was afraid of me on that day. She had put those pills in a safe place for a very good reason but I could not see it that way at that time.

Be ready for a mix of emotions that you have not seen before. You will see plenty of tears, anger, sadness, guilt, some happiness and gratitude as well. There are plenty more and I could name them all day. Just be ready for the unexpected.

Just remember that you do not know what they are feeling or what they are going through. Also remember and make them remember that you are going through it as well, just in a different way. Do not allow them to continue to pity themselves. Encourage them that it will get better and try to help them keep their held held high. You cannot make it better, but you can make it worse. Be very understanding while at the same time standing your ground. You do do not deserve to be talked to in an angry fashion. It is not your fault and let that be known. “I am sorry you feel that way but  its not my fault. I do not deserve for you to talk to me like that.” That is how it sunk in to me. I was actually causing a bad situation to get worse. Once I realized that,   things started to get better.

You can and will get through this and hopefully the outcome will be great. If there is anything that I missed or  did not say clearly, please do not hesitate to send me a message or post a comment. I will try to clear anything up as well as I can.

Lisa thanks for the idea to try to get this point of view across.