Telephone: 724-787-4451

Not If, How!

Not If, How!

By Greg Kozera- Learned Leadership LLC–

Sitting in my wheelchair last December not being able to put pressure on either leg, it was difficult to visualize running again. My goal wasn’t to just to walk. It was to run again. The ultimate goal is to run a half marathon in December 2020. My surgeon said there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do eventually following the surgery. The specialist who diagnosed my problem in the hospital told me, “Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you are too old.” Having discussions with my physical therapists the question was never if I could run again. The question was how can I return to running. What actions needed to be taken to make this possible? Everything changed. We didn’t waste time debating or evaluating the possibility. The focus was on specific actions that would move me to my goal.

The therapists reviewed my Doctor’s evaluation and put the plan together. They then supervised my therapy which started at three days a week. My job was to do the work during therapy and in between sessions. I always slipped in a few extra reps or a little more time when I was on the bike. Mark, my primary physical therapist loves to make me sweat and so do I. My strength increased. My range of motion increased. I started walking distances and got up to 2 miles. I started running short distances during my walks in March. My daughter gave me a little more incentive when she signed me up for a virtual 5K (3.1 miles). It had to be finished by May 4th. Last Saturday (May 2nd) I ran my first 5K since last October. It was a slow race for me. I finished and sent the after-race photo to friends and family.

The reason I share my story is to give you hope in these challenging times. Anything is possible. I give all the credit to my doctors, nurses, therapists, encouragement from family, friends and most important my God. I did a follow up with my surgeon recently. He asked how I was doing. I responded, “I just ran 2.4 miles before I got here and plan to run a 5K in 2 weeks.” Doc is a great guy. He surprised me when he said, “Had you asked me in December if it would possible to run a 5K in May, I would have told you, No Way.” I smiled and said, “You do good work!” The big reason for success is asking, “How can we…”

We are hearing a lot of about restarting the economy versus continued lockdowns or shut downs. This is not an either-or question. Great leaders understand the question is always not “if we can” but “how can we?” The question everyone especially government and health care leaders need to be asking is, “How can we open our businesses, states and the country safely? This changes how we think. It fosters creative thinking. It is a positive step. A lot of time is wasted by debating “if we can” or “if we should.” There isn’t an option. Imagine if we stayed in lockdown for two years until conditions were perfect and the virus was gone. There wouldn’t be an economy. We would all have much bigger problems than a virus. When we ask the question, “How can we?” our powerful subconscious mind goes to work and begins presenting us with all the reasons we can have a vibrant economy and keep people healthy. There are no magic answers. We have a country with smart creative people.

This is the way industry creates a safety culture. When I was a Regional Manager, the CEO of our biggest customer was passionate about safety. He believed everyone should come home from work without an injury. His safety target was ZERO injuries for his people AND all their contractors including my company. This was unheard of. There were over 1,500 employees on his project. They came from many companies working outside in all weather, many working around chemicals and high pressures. My people complained, “That’s impossible.” As leaders we asked, “If it was possible how would we start? What can we do that will create a safer work place?” The CEO was right! All the CEO’s employees and ALL of his contractors including my company worked 1 Million hours without an injury! He held a huge picnic for everyone involved to celebrate. Working accident and injury free became the norm. The CEO decided zero injuries was the only option. We believed and decided how to do it.

As business people we should not be asking, “Can my business survive until January 2, 2021? We need to decide that we will survive and ask, “How will my business survive? What actions do I need to take now to make us survivors?” In any challenge, we can find opportunity if we look for it. My wife and I asked those questions about our business. There are no easy answers. We didn’t waste any time asking “if we could”. We are now working on how we will.

We can go back to work, open up the country and protect people. We are smart. We are creative. Destroying the economy with an extended shutdown will cost lives from depression, drugs and alcohol. How many small businesses will be destroyed, jobs lost and hardships created if we don’t get back to business. The question isn’t any different than when I was in the wheelchair. How can we get back to work and protect workers, the public and the vulnerable like people in nursing homes? We can work together to focus on and find solutions for all of our problems. What products are we buying from China that we can make here? We may be surprised to find that we can manufacture and sell them cheaper than we can buy them from China and create jobs in our Region.

Anything is possible. We can change the future.

© 2020 Learned Leadership LLC

Opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Northeast ONG