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I’m scheduled to get back to work on Monday, January 4th. Big deal, huh? I’m returning after a month of medical leave. During this month, I’ve had to re-learn the most basic, fundamental human function: breathing. Due to an “interesting” sequence of medical events, I required extensive surgery on my right lung in early December. As a follow-on, I literally had to re-establish (re-learn) a consistent, “normal” breathing pattern. Something that most humans do 15-20 times per minute for their entire life with rarely a thought about it, I’ve had to think about it continuously over the last month.

Fortunately, I’m now beginning to consider the past months events as an object lesson. As I prepare to return to work, I‘m thinking about a couple of “take aways”, and thoughts going forward. It seems I’ve had a lot of time to consider these recent personal lessons, and to begin to apply them to my return to work:

Focus on the fundamentals: My primary objective as a corporate recruiter is the identification and acquisition of top talent for my organization. I’ve always said “it’s not rocket science”, but damn, I sure can make it more complicated than it needs to be. Like many other professions, recruiting has a simple set of fundamental actions that, if executed properly, lead to success….kind of like breathing: simple, fundamental, yet still requiring proper execution. Take away: Focus, focus, focus on the fundamentals.

Stop whining: I spent a considerable part of the month of December in the hospital. My primary activity for much of this time was to walk up and down the hall…pretty exciting stuff. I did not see one single person that I wanted to trade places with. Not one. No matter how someone appears on the outside, I have absolutely no idea what’s going on inside. Relying on others for my own care and survival, and spending time around folks a lot worse off than me was an intensely humbling experience that must be remembered. Take away: Stop sweating the small stuff, and stop whining.

Reach out: Interestingly, the most difficult lesson for me personally. You see, I’m that rarest of breed, an introverted, intensely private person that recruits for a living. Through online searches, I found other people around the world that have encountered the same physical affliction. I have begun to reach out. Communities exist in order to offer support, advice, and general camaraderie, and they exist for damn near everything under the sun (Example: Spontaneous Pneumothorax Patients Network!). Take away: Participate, contribute, be available, and be accessible.

Don’t take things for granted: On the list of things I take for granted, normal breathing ranks up there with having something to eat and having someplace to sleep. I now have a deeper understanding of what it’s like to struggle with one or more of these fundamental human requirements. Take away: I honestly have no idea where this one takes me. This is so much more complicated than writing/stating the words, but I know I must keep it in the forefront.

I believe we learn not only from our own experiences, but from those experiences that others encounter and share. Have you encountered a lesson that’s caused you to examine or connect your personal and professional activities?

Views: 18

Tags: community, lessons, work

Comment by Fran Hogan on January 3, 2010 at 2:12pm
What a powerful post Frank. A reminder to everyone that life is fragile and nothing should be taken for granted. I had a "moment" today thinking about the routing of getting back to work tomorrow and the dreaded alarm. Reading this was a cold splash of water in my whiney face.

You've emerged from a scary few months with a great attitude. You are an inspriration. My best wishes to you for 2010.
Comment by Rayanne on January 3, 2010 at 7:48pm
Thank you, Frank.
Comment by Frank Zupan on January 4, 2010 at 6:52am
Fran-Thanks for your coments.
Rayanne-You're welcome!
Comment by Jessica Miller-Merrell on January 4, 2010 at 11:47am
Frank, so glad that you are feeling better. Keep me posted.

JMM
Comment by Tracey Cress on January 4, 2010 at 11:48am
Frank, I have had moments in my life that have changed everything and maybe someday I will take a deep breath and write about them. Until then, I want to say that even though my experiences have been different, I understand exactly where you are coming from . . .
No one is immune to life altering experiences, no one. I have learned to keep it simple, appreciate what you have, while you have it and share it with others. Thanks for sharing Frank.
Comment by Will Branning on January 4, 2010 at 1:44pm
Thanks for the share, Frank. My personal life has been chaotic over the last few months and I have learned to appreciate "peacefulness" like never before. I thank God for seeing me through my recent difficulties...
Comment by Maureen Sharib on January 4, 2010 at 1:49pm
I'm surprised your return to work is so fast. Best wishes!
Comment by Laura Lundberg on January 4, 2010 at 2:45pm
Thank you for sharing your story Frank. For the good you saw in a lousy situation.

I especially enjoyed the reaching out part, as I am too an introvert who recruits. "Participate, contribute, be available and be accessible" will be my mantra this year.
Comment by Steffan Martell on January 4, 2010 at 5:16pm
Having been through what you've been through many years ago, I read your post nodding in agreement the entire time. Amazing how simple something like breathing is yet we never realize it until it’s in jeopardy. Much as you’ve pointed out like so many other things we take for granted in life. With something like this, we gain real vision on what’s important and people in our lives and never lose sight of that. Congratulations on your recovery and all the best. Thanks for sharing.
Comment by Frank Zupan on January 4, 2010 at 8:03pm
Quick update-Whew, I made it through the 1st day back! Tired towards the end, but definitely accomplished much. Continuously amazed to experience peoples genuine concern and well-wishes, both here and at work!

Jessica-Thanks, and I look forward to continuing our friendship and dialogue in the coming months and years.
Tracey-Thanks for taking the time to share some excellent thoughts. Take that "deep breath" sooner rather than later. It's exhilarating.
Will-Thanks, it's nice to "turn the corner" on some things, isn't it?
Maureen-You sound like my doctor! :<) Actually, the surgeon said "get back to work" and my regular doc was a bit more "cautious". Surgeon won!
Laura-I was beginning to think I was the only one. Nice to meet you ;<)
Steffan-Thanks. I've recently thought how much more difficult dealing with certain medical "issues" would be without access to information and resources that are at our fingertips these days. I feel very fortunate to have the access that I do.

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