My proudest moment

Who inspires you?

Is there one person you could credit with influencing you so much, that s/he shaped the person you’ve become?

I’ve had many opportunities and accomplished much in my career. But none of those come close, to what I’ve experienced as a father.

It was 18 years ago when I became a father to my first born son, Zachary. Like any first time parent, I had no idea what I was in for.

After a series of panic attacks and other issues in first grade, Zach was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism). He struggled with severe anxiety, obsessive thinking and behavior, violent meltdowns and social difficulties that alienated peers and adults.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of watching Zach walk across a stage to receive his high school diploma.

Zach has become a calm, conscientious and responsible young man. He has numerous friends who look to him for advice. He’s had a part time job for over a year. He even went to prom.

Everything I’ve accomplished professionally since Zach was diagnosed with Asperger’s (in high school, ADHD was added to the mix), was the result of what I learned raising Zach and his brothers.

One of my mantras for life is, “We’re in this together.” A phrase I uttered to Zach countless times, when he felt alone or misunderstood.” A phrase I repeat to my coaching clients as well.

Watching Zach live his life made me take a closer look at how I was living my own. I realized that every complaint, every excuse and every time I talked about quitting. I had an audience. A young boy, who couldn’t afford to learn this approach to life.

I committed to becoming a model of what I call, The 4 R’s of life: Responsibility, Resourcefulness, Resilience and Reciprocity. These qualities have become the foundation of our lives and are the pillars of the success Zach has experienced as well.

Far too often, we allow ourselves to live reactive lives. Living a life based upon what others expect of us, at the expense of what we want.

I’m grateful for the teacher I’ve had in Zach. He helped me realize that I and we needed to take 100% responsibility for the lives we wanted to live. Without a label being allowed to shape our destinies.

Another of my mantras is, “Don’t tell me about your disability, tell me about your dreams.”

We’ve had to be more and more creative in our problem solving as this mantra has been tested time and again. Especially by my own disabilities.

What’s your approach to life? What are you modeling? What do you need help with?

Zach will begin college in the fall. So stay tuned. This story is just beginning.

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