How your purpose can either support or be a non-factor in the impact and income you make, and the life you live.
How your purpose can either support or be a non-factor in the impact and income you make, and the life you live.
As a Career Management professional, Lee serves as a career coach and mentor to those in career transition. He has the privilege of working with many talented and successful individuals, providing outplacement services to individual contributors, entry-level managers and senior executives.
He guides & inspires candidates; teaching them the most up-to-date job search strategies while instilling in them the confidence to leverage these skills to land in their next career.
As a Certified Professional Resume Writer, published LinkedIn author and experienced trainer and public speaker, he facilitates career workshops, career webinars and executive career coaching.
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People confuse their why with the result. If you say my why for doing this is to monetize, now, monetize is the result of the work you do. It is not the why. Right. And I think that's the first barrier is not having clarity around and distinction between the results of the work that you're going to do and the why behind it.
Welcome, everybody. Today I'm extremely excited to have Lee Sylvester with us to talk about why, your career and your life. He has a very powerful story, really inspirational speaker, and I'm really excited to have him here. Thanks so much for joining us today, Lee.
Thanks for having me. Wait, I'm excited to be here. Awesome.
Well, I had heard about you, and I got to hear you speak about five or six months ago at Podfest origins was really just blown away by your talk about why and purpose. And maybe if you could just share a little bit with the audience, a little bit about how that became important to you and how that's something that you use in your day to day as you work with people in the work you do.
Sure. It started kind of in tandem with when, like yourself, I became a podcaster. This goes back to 2015, and prior to that, eleven years ago, almost to the day, I received a cancer diagnosis after a routine colonoscopy, I turned 50. My doctor says, oh, you're 50 gets what you get to do. So I was like, yeah, I heard that I should be getting a colonoscopy. So I went and did that and basically woke up to find out that I had cancer. And a few months later I found out that that was stage four cancer. And so I kind of immersed myself in the cancer world as an adult. I'm also a survivor of pediatric cancer when I was a little kid, but that's a story for another day and had several friends in the podcasting community, many of them who, you know, through podcast, and I attended a local Florida Podcast Association meeting. Just out of curiosity, really, I hadn't been much of a podcast listener or follower. And at that meeting, it was one of those what we like to call those lightning bolt moments, right, when that idea just strikes you. And it's like, maybe I could start a podcast talking to fellow patients and caregivers and survivors like myself as a way to kind of share the human side of the cancer experience.
And it was Katie Karmitzos, Chris Krimitsos, who's the founder of Podfest Wife, who said, oh, my God, you need to go do this. And the why came to me immediately. I did some quick research ways and found there really weren't any non clinical cancer podcasts out there at the time. Again, we're going back to 2015. And I said, let me just talk to people and let them share their stories. And it didn't take more than a couple of days for the tagline, which really became my why statement to come to me, and that was to provide information, inspiration, and hope to those touched by cancer. And I spent seven years interviewing people across all patients, caregivers, medical folks, doctors, et cetera, almost 200 episodes as part of the we have Cancer podfest. And we're on a hiatus right now in terms of new episodes, but anybody looking for any information and the whole back catalog is out there. But that was always my why. That was going to be my beacon, right? Information, inspiration, and hope. And it was quickly validated when I received emails and feedback from people with those exact words back to me.
And that's how you know why you hit the bullseye is when people say, oh, you inspired me. You gave me hope. Right. So these words that I came up with as the tagline to the show were being used back at me, and that's how I knew that I was onto something.
Wow, there's so many things here I want to start with. One thing is this whole concept of the why. You and I have been around long enough. We've heard it referred to as your mission, your vision, your purpose statement. It's been called all these different things over the years, sometimes in corporate settings or personal settings and all these different things. And it can be minimalized or trivialized because it's done so many times. It's kind of like when you hear wisdom, like a stitch in time saves nine. Oh, yeah, okay, great. Sure. And no, there's a reason they say that. Or Wade not, want not, or whatever it might be. I think these are some things my parents have taught me. The YP to me, I know at least I feel Simon Sinek has done it justice and the work he's done and sort of revived that conversation. But it becomes very, I think, for a lot of people, intangible hard to get a sense of, okay, well, how do I live this? Can I monetize this? Should I monetize this? Just in that overall generic sense. And we'll go a little deeper. But when you first talk with people and I'm sure you see people at seminars, they get excited about their why.
What do you find that are some of the blocks people have when they say, yes, I'm excited about my why, but it seems to be way over here, and my job is over in left field over here, and can I live my wife? Do I have to make money in it? What are some of the things that you find that maybe people struggle with, that maybe a little shift in their perspective might help them connect to that better?
You brought up Simon Sinek, and I, too, a big fan, and he stated it pretty well in his well known Ted Talk that coincided with his book Start With Why, where he talked about I'm paraphrasing a little bit here where people confuse their why with the result. If you say my why for doing this is to monetize, no, monetize is the result of the work you do, it is not the why. Right. And I think that's the first barrier is not having clarity around and distinction between the results of the work that you're going to do and the why behind it. And I'm of the belief that if you are true to and treat your why as kind of your beacon to everything you do, and it's not just words, but it's really what you run everything through that filter. Does this align with why we're doing what we're doing? And you stick to it with consistency and the results that you hope will come from that will indeed time indeed come from it, if that makes sense.
Absolutely. I think of something. I hope I'm saying the right person. I think it was Lisa Sassovich. I heard a talk in one of Joe Polish's genius network events. I bought the recordings from it, and she talked about she used the term your through line. And what she said was if you or she asked a question, if you are on an island and you're never going to see humanity again, but you could give them one message, like a phrase or two sentences or something, what would it be? In my case, there's a book I've written called Put Your Money Where Your Soul Is, which is about people spending their time with the people they love most, doing activities they love, just enjoying life, that sort of stuff. And that kept coming up for me. And it was a book I've written 20 years ago. I published it maybe 15 years ago. The print on demand wasn't there 20 years ago. And I wasn't about to do the whole Wade Dyer drive, the whole country thing. I love him just wasn't up for the task because I kind of almost knew too much. But long story short, what she said was that that theme should be different in all parts of your life.
Bring that because if that's your thing, that you bring that in. And her concept is, okay, it's not always going to monetize, but if you're bringing it everywhere, that that's something that is going to be something that's maybe almost like your special sauce that people can't even maybe even put their finger on. And it might be how you do it, even though you might be in a job that on LinkedIn or whatever it says, oh, what are you? I'm a sales guy, I'm an insurance guy, or whatever it is that seems very vanilla. But bringing your why to it brings something else that doesn't necessarily just is unique to you. So maybe if you could give an example for the people listening. What does it look like for you? What's it look like when you're bringing your why to different dimensions to your personal life, to inspiring people to your work, perhaps? How does that look? Perhaps slightly different, and yet still have that same theme where you could look at it and say, that's my wife, in case you all didn't realize that's it right there.
Sure. What a great question, Wade. So in my full time job, I work as a career coach. I work for a global corporation, helping people who've been downsized, restructured, laid off, pick your euphemism for losing your job and help them not as a recruiter, but giving them the tools and the skills they need to successfully get back into the workforce. And this is through coaching and more tangible things like how to create a LinkedIn profile and a resume and those kinds of things. But to your point, that why information, inspiration and hope isn't just part of the We Have Cancer podcast. I use that in my regular job, and people say, you know what you think about what are some of the tough things people face in life? Certainly a health challenges near the top of the list. Losing a job happens to also be in the top five, too. Right? So there's a lot there. And when I can coach and work with these executives and also work to give them hope, say, look, I know you were in this job for 30 years. The next opportunity and maybe even a better opportunity is out there for you, don't look back, because that's not where you're going.
Yes, I know you didn't see this coming, and it's devastating to lose a job after many years if that's the case. But let me tell you, there is hope and let me do what I can to inspire you here. So there aren't lines between, oh, I'm only providing information, inspiration and hope when I'm behind the MicroCon, but in day to day life or in any of the online cancer support groups when I can share my story, and I always get the same thing back while you inspired me. Right? So it is and can be, if you so choose. It doesn't need to be just something you do, from, quote unquote, nine to five, Monday through Friday. If your why is part of how you live your life, as you said you do as well. It works everywhere. It really does.
That's so cool. I remember something I love from the book, the Way of the Peaceful Warrior, dan Millman's book. And in that book, the lead character, the main character focus, is a gymnast, Dan Millman, and it's semi autobiographical, I believe, if I remember correctly. And he has this mentor that teaches them how to live better and just be more focused in life, more present in different things. And so towards the end of the book sorry, spoiler alert if you missed this part. But it's not a huge thing. But yet it is, he says to his mentor, okay, so am I supposed to now open the school where I mentor people on this. He's like, no, teach people gymnastics, he says, and every once in a while, you meet somebody that's also open to receiving this deeper thing or this other thing you have to offer. And I just find that so wise because it's that grounding. The chop would carry water, though, like, okay, yes, you're going to go save the world. Like, when I told my mom, I'm going to India to save the world when I was 22 because all these people just wanted money in the corporate world, she's like, Wait, help the people where you're at.
Make some money. If you want to go take a trip to India. It's like, no, but this is like that young sort of adolescent view of, I have to go somewhere else. It's got to be dramatic. And it's like, no, just work. Do your work. Which actually is less, perhaps even fun sometimes. Like, no, just get off your butt. Do your work. Help the people. I was working in insurance claims in the bodily injury section. So similar kind of situation. People coming in, they've just been in a car accident.
They're feeling like they're going to be taking advantage of. And my mom knew all the questions asked. She's like, So all this is going on, right? They probably need somebody to help them. Yeah, she said great. Get your butt back in there. Go help those people. And if you want, go fly to India. But you don't need to go to India to help people. Which I think was something that in an immature or just, again, this grandiose way, was, yes, what I wanted to do, probably in a little way, I kind of just wanted to get out of the routine, so to speak.
Yeah, you don't need to please don't follow my lead and get cancer to feel that that's the way to do this. You can be in sales. You can be in insurance. You can be in any industry and still have that impact, right? As long as where you're working and their values align with yours, we talk about why. It's also part of the house. It's also how you treat people. So if your bodily injury claims and you treat people with compassion and tell them, hey, you're in a tough situation, but there's hope on the other side, again, it's industry agnostic, if I would find a way to put it. It's also part of not just your why, but your how.
Absolutely. So when you work with people, you do is this career coaching and just in general life, what would you say it looks like? So if a person listen to this right now, and they're thinking, I wonder if I'm connected with my wife, it's almost like one of those things, like, I don't know, like being part of the cool club. Do I have this? Am I connected to my why am I hip? What does it look like if this person is just kind of thinking about their like, what does it look like or feel like, or what are those moments look like when a person is connected? Or what would a person be feeling, let's say, if they're not connected, because sometimes we might have a job we don't like, and it might be hard work, and it might or might not be connected to our why, but how would a person understand that, okay, maybe you know what? I'm missing this. I'm not even connected to this. And then if they can connect to that, what does it then look like to start bringing that into their life? In simple ways.
Part of it comes from the feedback you get from the other side. Whoever you're interacting with, those little comments, and they don't always come. But when someone says, you help me. Thank you. You made a difference. You helped me see something I couldn't see. Those kinds of things are kind of the test, if you will, if you're heading in the right direction. And I also got to tell you, it takes work. It's not easy. You talked about my presentation at Podfest Origins, fall of 2021, and I shared a story, one that will stay with me for the rest of my life, where, wait, I admitted I lost track of my why, and I'll share the story. Here. One of the challenges of immersing yourself in the cancer world and you start building relationships is no surprise. You're going to lose people that you're close to. And when you start working in adversey groups and awareness, this happens. And I've lost count. But of the close to 200 episodes that I did on the podcast, I think about 20 of those guests are not with us any longer, and that's hard. And what happened? A couple of years back, a friend of mine in the colon cancer community I want to be real.
This wasn't a dear friend who I talked to every week, but she was a friend and someone I was close too, and lost touch with for a few months. And I go on social media, and I see that Sarah had passed away, and it just hit me like a truck. And I'm sitting with my wife as I'm scrolling through my phone, and I just burst into tears. And I kid you not, I threw my phone across the room, and I looked at her with tears coming out of my eyes, and I said, I can't do it anymore. I can't do this anymore. It's too hard. And she's like, look, don't make any rash decisions. We had made plans, I think. The next day, we're still deep in the midst of the covet, but we had rented an airbnb at the beach, kind of seclusive to be on the beach, but be safe. And I said, all right. So next day, we get in the car, we drive up to the beach for a few days, and I think the next day I just happened to look at some emails on my phone and I see an email from Total Stranger, and it's a woman sending me an email saying, I want to thank you, I found your podcast.
I recently got into a relationship with someone who was recently diagnosed with cancer, and I didn't know the questions to ask and how to help, and I found your podcast and you made all the difference to me. So I read this email 48 hours after I learned that Sarah passed, and again, I burst into tears. And I'm not embarrassed to say I'm an emotional guy. And it was that email. And I don't believe in coincidences. I think things happen when they're supposed to happen for you. It was that email that reminded me when I threw my phone across the room. And yeah, I had the right to be upset when you lose someone, but at that moment, I lost track of my why because I was making it about me. And then I get this email from this woman saying, you don't know who I am, you've never heard of me yet, you made a difference in my life. And I immediately responded to her, again through tears, saying telling her the back story that I was ready to hang this thing up at the time. And then I got her email reminding me of my tagline, information, inspiration and hope that got me back on track.
So it's hard. It's hard even when dedicated as you are. This is my why. This is my beak, and everything runs through my why, staying with it and being distracted by the money or the downloads or other circumstances, it's easy to get off track. And then you get that kind of wake up call that says, whoops, I lost track there for a minute, so I dusted myself off and went on to keep recording.
That is wow, that's so awesome. And the crazy thing is well, not the crazy thing, you know, this is a podcaster at least two or three times where I was like, okay, because I've been doing mine for about four years, coming on my fifth year, and I'm looking for the positive. I'm delightfully and consistently so I come in and out in waves. They have the term if you're not a podcast, there's a term called podfest, which basically means you weren't consistent. Darn it, you didn't stay on, come in and out. And I used the excuse, well, you see, I'm a lifestyle guy interfering with my lifestyle. But long story short, I've had a few times where, like you're saying, podcasting for the most part, there's a few people, the Joe Rogans and people that are making a significant financial gain from it. And even he didn't start with that. He got to where he did. He earned his way to that. But a lot of times along the way, if you're just looking for the money or just even looking for validation through download, you're not always going to get it. And recently, crazy, my wife told me about a family friend of hers.
I said, I just want you to let Wade know that I'm listening to this podcast, and it's a big deal. And it was one of those things where if you ever think we're not wired beyond just the material and it wasn't an ego thing, because I have plenty of things there's things I can brag about or not brag about. It was an ego thing. It was like something I needed to hear because it was kind of getting like, okay, well, I'm doing this. I don't always hear back. I've not done a lot of monetization in my case with this, with my coaching, but I have a handful of people that have said, wait, this has wade a huge difference. One of my best friends came to one of the events that I did, and he shifted this whole thing. Now, he did the work, but I was part of that impetus, and so it can be very difficult, at least sometimes, when something that I feel is so much a part of my purpose doesn't monetize. And meanwhile, over here, here's my coaching business and insurance, I happen, is an awesome field. When it's done right in that field, and the money keeps coming in and it's steady and it's good and it's solid, and I give it a little of attention, and it goes really well, but I'm like, yeah, but I want my purpose to be over here.
And it's like almost this specific sense. And yet, I guess, like most things, that whole idea of the person you want to be leader is the person who doesn't want to be the leader, where it's like, not the person is like, why I want to be the leader because I've got the leader, Jack, and I've got the hat. So that's been something that's been interesting. What have you comment on this? I've heard people say that what you would do if you had all the money in the bank. That's your why. And I've always felt that, no, that's your ideal lifestyle, because I wouldn't necessarily serve the world. I'd hang out. For me, the Y has, or at least parts of the Y has something more to do with what do you do even if you don't get paid? We have kids, get up in the middle of the night, change the diaper, grab the poop right out of toilet with a bare hand and throw whatever. Those are the things. And it feels like that the Y is a little more almost elusive or subtle, not stealthy. It's not like it's trying to hide, but it's not so grandiose.
What would you say to that?
It depends on the individual and what resonates with you. You got to feel it in your heart, right? It's got to feel natural. I hear people share their why, and sometimes I feel like they're really not really a why. It's something that would look good on a bumper sticker, right? And it sounds cute, but is it something you really are feeling your heart and can live and breathe and just it's the way you live your life. So I think that's one way to look at it. Is this a slogan? That's the word that came to mind. Is it a slogan, or is it truly something that when you wake up every day, this is where you want to be, this is your goal, and if you have other people on your team that everybody's aligned with, it simon Sinek and his talk talks about if people are aligned with your purpose, they'll work for you with blood, sweat, and tears. If it's just for the money, the money will come and the money will go, and so will they, right? So you got to be honest with yourself and say, does this resonate with me?
Is this something that will lead me each and every day? And if I decided to do something different, is this transferable? Right? So for me, whether I'm podcasting or I'm not, to be able to lead a life where you want to try to inspire and give people hope, it's not a bad way to live, right? And it's not just a slogan that'll look good on a T shirt or a bumper sticker.
I think that's why what's so wise about that I love is I imagine. Obviously. You have the divine in and dialed into you working with people is I think a lot of the times when I've heard people. Having done a lot of personal growth seminars and entrepreneurial growth and business growth and stuff. There's this. I think. Human need to well. First of all. To want to be included. To want to feel we're getting it. To want to feel we're making progress. It feels weird to be at the motivational seminar and to not get it. And so, like you say those slogans, I've seen people where I feel like and again, just sort of a sense like, okay, that's not it yet. And it wasn't that they were being fake. It wasn't that they were just like, it's this, right? I hope it's this. I'm not sure. And yet I think about something that one of my friends told me when I stayed in the same industry, and she went from the insurance industry, and she now works for Apple, and she's like, Wait, I want you to get your skills are transferable. And I'm hearing you say your why is transferable.
Let's take that maybe even to a more practical comment. You and I, you did something before a pre interview, which I thought was so on target. You reminded me, just in case you know or don't know, technically, I've been an entrepreneur. I'm an employee. And just in case your audience knows or doesn't know, in case that's a big deal, and I'd share with you my experience that some of my friends that entrepreneurs get so caught up on, well, am I an entrepreneur or am I not? And I like to remind people like LeBron James, Leonel Messi, they're not entrepreneurs. They may also, but they're also employees, and they work dollars for hours. It's kind of crazy, just a lot of dollars. So that's not necessarily a problem. And whether or not you have this label of entrepreneur and you and I both, yeah, we know people that have been broker, broke their entrepreneurs and that are rich and vice versa. So when people get caught up in either what it should look like in their Y or their career, what would you say to that person now, especially given we're right now recording this in April of 2022?
There's a lot of people shifting their jobs. They're looking for better working situations. They're looking for better work life balance they're not sure their job might like. There's a gazillion reasons why. What would you tell that person who is? Maybe I'm not expecting my life to be fulfilled in every moment, but I want to do work that in some way feels aligned with what I'm up to, as opposed to just feeling like I'm going there, having to pump myself up every day. What do you tell people when they're in that shifting period? Whether it's an entrepreneur looking to shift projects or focuses or an employee looking either looking to or having to switch jobs, how can they bring the combination of their skills, their skill set, their why, and how can they do that intelligently?
First, I'll work backwards. We didn't say you need to do that. What I mean by that is if you're the one that's posting on social media, it's hump day and TGIF and thank God it's the weekend. Hold up the mirror. Something's wrong. Something's wrong if you live for the weekend and the next vacation. And as my son used to call it, the Sunday night scaries, meaning I'm going to bed and, oh, God, I got to go to work Monday. It's time. It's time to rethink things because no one should be in that situation, especially the way the job market is today. And whether that means shifting to becoming an entrepreneur or working for another company whose culture aligns with yours. Look, I failed as an entrepreneur. I'll put it right out there. I tried doing this career coaching thing on my own and failed miserably for all kinds of reasons and top it for another day, not embarrassed by it. My personality is not cut out to be an entrepreneur. That's okay. Not everybody is. But what I'm fortunate about is I'm working for a company where I feel valued. I'm important. The work I do is meaningful.
The CEO calls me. To check on my health and what do you need? And as I mentioned off air, I'm just back from a month long medical leave. I had major surgery a month ago related to my cancer. And you know what? Not for 1 second did I have to worry about my job or work, not because I don't care, but that's the culture that I'm in that I didn't need to think about it, right? And not everybody is in that situation. And I'm fully aware that there are people out there. I'm battling cancer, and they said if I'm not back by next week, my job is going to be gone and don't wait. I see it too often in the work that I do, and people are in their fifty s. And I said, I was at the last job for 30 years, and I can't believe they let me go. And then the next ten minutes is how miserable they were. But they're upset that they lost their job. Like, wait a minute, so you've been living in misery for 30 years. What are you waiting for? Right? Make a change. Find it.
There's lots of jobs out there, lots of companies out there. Or if you feel you're cut out to go out on your own or with some other folks, do that too. 40 plus hours a week is way too flipping long to be stressed out and miserable. And you got to hold up that mirror. It's not worth it. I can say every day, look, we all have our moments, but I don't have any work stress. I do my job. I make an impact. Some days better than others. So that's where you got to start. How do you feel when you get up in the morning getting ready to go to work? Okay, if there's fear, if there's that feeling in the pit of your stomach, dude, you got to do something.
Yeah, I think there's so many things, there's so many pieces to that. And first of all, if you're in a work situation where you're not appreciated, compensated well, not through the roof, but compensated well, fairly able to enjoy a good life, good time off, and to your point, treated as an individual, with respect, all those different things, it's so interesting to me, I believe, blessed to have a perspective of different parts of the world. My parents from the islands, my wife's from Peru. I've done a little bit of travel here, there, and even just from Reading, and at least as of what, maybe four years ago or five years ago, when the book Factfulness was written by Hans Rosling, he mentioned the idea that six out of seven people in the planet live on less than $32 a day. Now, of course, in some areas that's adjusted, their costs of their food are not the same as ours and whatnot, but many of those people are happy. And I'm not saying they'd like to be earning more. But at the same time, the money isn't the only thing. And I see so many people my age that are still worried about the money.
And I'm old enough to have watched enough of my friends from my high school class or just people around where that person was ten years young, and you, oops, something just happened. This happened. They're gone. That happened. They died. And if nothing more, the life is short thing, and it's bunny Young mentioned the whole avoiding the work week thing when I first started my podfest. I call it the four day work week podfest or entrepreneur work week entrepreneur. And I was more aligned with I only want to work four days. I hadn't yet gotten to the focus on, well, yeah, first of all, the main focus is the three day weekend concept or just enjoying life. But I was so in what I don't want to do as opposed to what I want to do. And it was a very different energy, the way I approached my work and did different things. And now as I put more of a focus on, well, two things. Number one, that I really am planning my life outside of work as much as I plan my life inside of work, which, shocker, it's getting better and more enjoyable, just more fun, that sort of stuff.
But then that then gives me the sense to then not resent work and realize, wow, those three day weekends happen because I'm doing that thing, those four days. And yes, there are so many areas where I'm able to be brought back in, okay, I'm making a difference here and making a difference there. And I just remember, just as I was working on my master's degree in psychology, a few times, I saw people in the foster care system or people who'd experienced abuse and stuff, and they were there because they didn't have the right amount of insurance. I was like, oh, God, you'd be kidding me. So one of my managers always told us, we're financial social work workers in the insurance field. Like, if you do it right, you're preventing people from needing government funds, go fund me accounts, that sort of stuff. And this was one of those things where these young kids, they had been in the foster care situation, and it can be good sometimes, and sometimes it can be not so good. In their case, it was not so good. And yet, if there was life insurance in place for the dad and disability insurance in place for the mom, that would have never happened.
And so it was even one of those things where, here I am again. Okay, I've got to go to India. I've got to make this grandiose. It's like, no, right where you are, bring that why that inspiration, that information, whatever your version of that is, into what you're doing. And I would imagine as you're working with people is that something you encourage them when they're in their job search? How do they in fact, let's go to this is a question. How then can a person, if they're looking for that new job, be likely to find a culture that is going to, chances are, respond to that, as opposed to being in there after three months and saying, oops, I made a wrong jump. Or how can a person identify that as they're looking to shift?
Perhaps the best way is to talk to people who are already there. Right. And that's a big part of what I coach, is the importance of networking in finding your job and finding information. Companies are going to tell you what they want you to hear, right. And it's difficult. There are some signals you could probably possibly pick up in an interview. But the best thing is to talk to people who work there and get a feel for what life is like and start there. Right. And what's the best culture for me? It may not be the best culture for you. Right. We're all different, and that's okay. But it's important to understand yourself first. What do you need? What motivates you? What inspires you? And is that a fit with where you're going to be working? Right? Because to your point, the last thing you want to do is take a job and they do these later go, my goodness, what do I get myself into? Right? So that really is the best way, is to have conversations with people.
Awesome. Wow, I'm taking in so much. And somebody said, wait, of course you expected. There's just so much. Wow, there's so much. Your brain. I'm inspired to listen to your show more. I've not really delved into it yet because I guess I almost even thought, well, I don't have cancer and of course I have friends who have cancer. I have friends. So I'm realizing, wow, I really need to look into this. And you're pretty good at this stuff. It's funny because I brought you on. I heard you talking like, I got to have lee on the show and you're like, wait, what do you want to talk about? Well, I think this something about the y think you're really, really good at that. Awesome. So thank you for everything so far. So, question for you, just for that person that says, okay, I want to start bringing more why, more purpose, more inspiration to my own life. How can a person, just in a really simple way, get started that is manageable when they're done listing this thing and say, okay, I'm going to start doing this one thing or things that can help make that happen?
Great question. I will tell you, Wade, just as a backdrop to my answer is I've not traditionally been one of these big, read ten, self help books a week kind of guy. And a number of years back, in the course of less than a week. Three different people mentioned the book the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. And I was like, that's a sign. Three people mentioned three random people unconnected mentioned the same book. Maybe I need to go read this book, which is I don't even know if it's 100 pages. And it basically is four agreements, to paraphrase four ways to live your life. And real quickly, if I could do them from memory, I'm not going to do them in the right order of the book. But be impeccable with your word. Always do your best, make no assumptions, and take nothing personal. And I looked at that book and I said, all right, let me start with one, right? Four sounds so simple. But when you get into the crux of the book, it's not as simple as it sounds. And I said which 01:00 a.m. I most guilty of do I want to work on?
The one that jumped out for me was make no assumptions. Right? It's a little backdrop. I came out of a corporate job that didn't end well. I wasn't happy. And every time I knew the phone would ring in my office, it was not going to be good news, right? And I come into this new job and the phone would ring and I see on the caller ID it's the CEO, and the heart would start racing because that's how it used to be. And I was making assumptions, right? And those assumptions were no longer true. Most of the time when we make assumptions, they're not true. And that book, without going overboard, truly has been life changing to me. Right? I work really hard to do those four things, to make no assumptions, to take nothing personal, to always do my best. And your best is going to be different from day to day, right? The day after surgery, my best wasn't really much. Right? My best today is a little better than it was four weeks ago. And to be impeccable with your word, which is some people may say, oh, that just means tell the truth.
But when you break down the Latin of impeccable, it means do no harm. So it also means don't talk about people, don't spread gossip, those kinds of things. Excuse me. And I've worked really hard to follow those four agreements. And it has been life changing. I think it's put my life, despite all the challenges of living with cancer for eleven years. I'm also able to say that these have been the best eleven years of my life. Because I met my wife and we got married and we have grandkids and we've been to weddings and baby births. And when I look at all the amazing things that are happening in eleven years, including the cancer, they have been, no hesitation the best eleven years of my life. I'm not making any commission on promoting it. I don't know the author. But it also brought to light, too. And this is, I think, really relevant to today's world when you say the whole take nothing personal and you see what's going on in politics and on social media. I challenge anybody to tell me that. People who especially can hide behind the divine and spread hate and negativity tell me that those people are happy.
People tell me that those are people living a life filled with love and joy. And you know the answer to that, right? So what that means is, sadly, we're in a world right now with a lot of people who are really hurting and really unhappy. And the way it manifests itself is by trolling and all the stuff that we see going on. You can't tell me, pick your person, I'm not taking political sides here, but pick your person. And who behaves this way? And tell me, can they possibly be living a life of joy, a life of love and behave in that manner? And I don't think there's any way you can convince me that they are. So you don't take things personal, you don't make any assumptions, and you'll lead a happier life. I have, yeah.
Thank you. I'd forgotten I'd read that book a good 20 something years ago. I'm going to read it again. It's such a good book. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. And yeah, to your point, we have a 16 year old, and we're about to be 16 and a 13 year old, and I'm constantly telling similar things. Just see what comes out of the person, whatever comes out. And Wayne Dyer has this example. He says when you squeeze the orange, what comes out? Orange juice because that's what's inside. And when pressure comes up, people respond with what they have inside. And yeah, it's interesting. I'm curious to see where people want to go with this, but I even told people at times because I voted on both sides of the political spectrum over my life. And I've always said, for me, I'm more about the person first, the party second. And admittedly, in the United States, I think we can do that because if our middle is a pretty well developed so a middle left and a middle right is not too far apart. My wife's from Peru, my parents from Trinidad, an extreme left and extreme right.
It's a big deal. You might choose the party sometimes because it can be that big of a difference.
Sure. And I tell you a big place that this has helped me. One of the challenges when you have the health challenges that I have is cancer patients. And anybody listening to this has been through it knows you live your life from scan to scan because the scan for me, which is every three months, tells you how things are going right. And I see posted every day in the support groups. I have a scan next week and I'm freaking out and we call it. There's actually a term for it called scanxiety. The anxiety over your next scan. And one of the things that I would say I've come close to mastering is that overcoming that scanxiety. Because what I've learned and the book kind of helped me here. Is it's making an assumption if I'm freaking out about a test, maybe it could be a college test. In this case, you're talking about a diagnostic test. Guess what my freaking out and having major anxiety will have. Guess how much impact on the results of that scan. Zero. But you know what it will do? It's going to ruin today. It's going to ruin tomorrow, and it's going to ruin every single day until I get those results.
Do I want to ruin the next seven days? That's not going to impact the results. Now, have I mastered not having a little anxiety sitting in the room waiting for the doctor to walk through the door? Haven't gotten that one down yet. But I would tell you that I'm not going to let that ruin a great day that I could have at work or in the evening spending time with my wife or my family. The results are going to be what they're going to be, and the thoughts running through my head won't have any impact on those results at all. All they're going to do is ruin today and the days leading up. And that goes back to making assumptions. I'm assuming the results are going to be bad, that kind of thing.
It's funny, funny the timing of this. I did a blood test last week, just routine blood test, did my colonoscopy thing, and that came out good, negative, clean. But then with the blood thing, I got a call yesterday, hey, we need you to come back and do your blood. I just did last week. I'm like, okay, is there something going on? Or unfortunately, the person wasn't clear enough to just simply say, oh, we lost it. Because that would have been nice to know last night. But I was like, I put it aside. I spoke with my daughter this morning. She said, I didn't tell anybody because I didn't want the family freaking out, because again, I literally had no idea what that means. If we need to come in for more blood, I'm not sure. And my daughter, she said, you know, didn't that freak you out? I said, Look, I said, I don't know where I got this. Probably from a lot of stuff I've read. I said, but every day my heart beats and I don't beat it. So something, God, force, universe, whatever does that, and I don't ask for that. I don't know if I deserve it or not.
That's a different conversation. But it happens whether I try to do it or not. I said, Someday it's not going to, no matter what the heck I try to do. I said, so in the meanwhile, kind of serenity prayer 101, I can't control it, so I'm not going to eat at my present moments. And just like you said, somebody said, wait, it's easier for you. Granted, I'm sure it was probably easier for me on that one than when you're thinking about with the scan. But again, the concept still holds. If you eat up all your moments, all you have done is eating up all your moments. Absolutely. Thank you so much. So much. Here. So what do you mind sharing? Where can people learn more lee about your email@example.com?
We've got close to 200 episodes out there for anybody that's been touched by cancer in any way, whether you're a caregiver, you're a survivor, you're a patient. And I think we've probably covered almost every type of cancer out there as well. So if you or someone you know is looking for some information, inspiration and hope, send them over to weavecancershow.com and they have quite a library to pick from.
Awesome. Thank you so much. First of all, put that in the show notes. And I always put people's LinkedIn profile too, just because sometimes people hear stuff from people and they want to connect with them. So any thoughts you'd leave the audience with before we finish?
I think we've covered it. I appreciate the opportunity. Way to share my why share my story. I'm always open to connecting with folks who I haven't had the pleasure of meeting yet. You can find me on LinkedIn at LinkedIn. Comley. Sylvester and that's Stein. And more than happy to connect with anyone and help in any way I can.
Awesome. Thank you so much for coming out and sharing with us today. Late pleasure and for all of you listening. As always, I look forward to helping you impact more people and make more money in less time doing what you do best so you can better enjoy your family, your friends and your life. Thanks so much for listening. You.
VP Consulting Services | Birkman Certified Professional | Career Coach | Outplacement Services | Podcast Host
Lee has been battling stage 4 colon cancer for 11 years. In 2015 he created the WE Have Cancer podcast to provide information, inspiration and hope to those touched by cancer. After seven years and almost 200 episodes Lee has placed the show on hiatus, though it is still available wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts.